A diverse group of local artists, community members and students got together at Cafe Berlin on March 8, International Women's Day, for “Womxn: art in all its forms.” The night celebrated local and female art, giving voice to minorities and marginalized groups.
The event was organized by the MU Association of Latinx American Students, who created an all-female committee to put “Womxn” together. Maria Briceno, vice president of ALAS, had the original idea of showcasing local work by female artists and giving a voice to women across campus and Columbia.
“I’m an art history and sociology major and I got the idea from my art classes,” Briceno said. “I noticed that there are not a lot of female artists [in my art classes], and there are not a lot of female artists in Columbia that are appreciated or have a space to show their work.”
Along with the ALAS executive board, Briceno reached out to the MU Art Department and used social media to find female-identifying artists willing to perform. “Womxn” counted with live poetry, comedy, storytelling in Spanish and a guest speaker. The photographer Valérie Berta-Morales was invited to talk about her most recent project “We,” where she photographs and tells the stories of people from marginalized groups.
“Her work is all about diversity and empowering people of color in general,” Briceno said. “I think her message really wrapped around the whole idea of diversity and respect that we were aiming for.”
One of the performers of the night was Wilson Minshall, a graduate student at MU who read an original poem along with a soundbar performance.
“I don’t really disclose my poetry very often; it’s a very personal thing,” Wilson said. “I grew up with the stigma of being a male body person that you’re not supposed to write poetry, keep journals and things of this nature. So my art is my way of resisting this stigma. It’s a way of presenting a positive message on allowing one’s self to express their identity in one medium or across several media.”
Ginna Salaman, author and MU graduate student, also performed on stage. She read fragments in Spanish taken from two of her three books that tell stories of the latinx community.
“We have a lot of political tension and racism going on,” Salaman said. “We need to be aware of what’s happening and fight against it. It’s our responsibility to make this world not really a better one, but one that at least gives us dignity and justice.”
Although this is the first edition of “Womxn,” Briceno hopes it will become an annual event that goes beyond the MU campus.
“I hope that people take in the whole message of the night: Women artists are here and they’re not appreciated enough,” Briceno said. “This is the time to appreciate them. Buy locally, support local artists and just take care of each other in the community.”
Edited by Janae McKenzie | firstname.lastname@example.org