[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n one of Chicago’s more reasonably warm evenings, local residents came out of hibernation to enjoy the work of female artists in honor of International Women’s Day. Voces de Mujeres was presented by the Carlos and Dominguez Fine Arts Gallery in collaboration with Amara Betty Martin. The event took place on March 7 and brought together several local female artists who express themselves in a variety of mediums, such as visual arts, music, spoken word or poetry.
The show highlighted several different women from all over Chicago and helped create more inclusive opportunities for emerging artists of color in Chicago.
“I like the way Amara assembled this show to be bits and pieces of different types of art,” said Desiree Guzman. “Women artists, visual artists, spoken word [artists]…It’s a beautiful celebration of multimedia. It’s weaving not only womanhood but also cultural identity,” she said.
Guzman creates handmade accessories for men and women through her shop Mano y Metal. Some of Guzman’s pieces include bracelets with hand stamped inspirational phrases like ‘Si se puede’ and ‘Well-behaved women seldom make history.’”
“I pull quotes that I grew up admiring. There are a lot of quotes written by women. There are a lot of quotes celebrating Latinidad. I think I try to create pieces that I would like to purchase but don’t have access to,” said Guzman.
The one-night multi-media exhibition included works by hand craft designers, spoken word artists and lives acts by Vivian Garcia and Las Manzanitas, a Ranchera-style trio from Pilsen as well as works by Teresa Magana, Amara Betty Martin, Constance Kostrevski and artist, teacher and community activist Diana Solis.
For Solis, inspiration can come at any time. “[Inspiration] comes from literature, sometimes from talking to people. What I do is I sometimes hear conversations and I imagine kind of an imaginary world or I wonder, ‘what would it be like if this person were an animal? ‘What would it be like if I created them as a creature?’ So these creatures often live inside my head and they find their way to my canvas,” said Solis.
According to Solis, this recognition of women in the Chicago art scene has been a long time coming.
“I think there’s a very strong women’s presence in the arts that is undeniable. Whereas maybe 30 or 40 years ago it was much more difficult for women to put their work out there,” she said.
Denise Ruiz, who designs wallets, purses, clutches and accessories from recycled materials for Madre de Perla Designs, added that this event was a way for women to celebrate other women, whether those women are fellow artists or family members. “It’s a way of honoring ancestors, honoring the beauty of our culture where many times it’s not celebrated, so it’s a way for us to celebrate ourselves,” she said.
The show was meant to celebrate several different women from different backgrounds, who have worked as a community and have often supported and inspired each other.
The fact that the artwork was different based on the artist did not mean that any one piece felt out of place. Instead, it worked because they all had a similar theme: a love for artistic expression and a sense of female camaraderie.