“There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”-― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
March 1987 – the month devoted to commemorating historic events and contemporary movements of everything female, and the year that started it all. This month marks the start of the recognition of women. In honor of women’s history, VIDA celebrates the work of five diverse women, each with a unique story, and each attempting to express their truest selves and inspire others while doing so.
The exceptional work of artists Shehzil Malik, Belina Wright, Anna Masiul-Gozdecka, Pegah, and Corina Hazlett are highlighted below. These empowering women artists work to ignite change through their artwork.
Shehzil Malik (Pakistan) is a designer and illustrator who focuses on design for social change. Her passion for combining design and social responsibility has led her to collaborate on multiple creative projects centered around women’s rights and identity constructs. She is a Fulbright scholar with an MFA in Visual Communication Design, an Australian Awards Fellow for Human Centred Design, TEDx speaker and a member of the International Development Innovation Network (IDIN).
Belina Wright (USA) is a self-taught, Haitian-American artist who believes her ability to paint is a God-given gift. Her vibrant art is strongly influenced by her Haitian heritage. She paints people in their element, from the extreme to the everyday. Her work depicts tall, stylized women holding baskets with grace and beauty.
Anna Masiul-Gozdecka (Poland) grew up in what she describes as “grey, melancholic” communist Poland. She found artistic escape and inspiration in scientist Maria Sklodowska-Curie, writer Isabel Allende, Frida Kahlo, and Polish artists Teresa Pągowska and Maria Jarema. Anna is a mother and teacher who often organizes events to empower women.
Pegah Lari’s (Iran) paintings weave contemporary and Qajari elements together to create a combination of cultures. Her artworks represent a conflict between the modern and the traditional. Pegah’s dynamic works have been included in many of Tehran’s group exhibitions as well as recent representation in Paris, France.
Corina Hazlett (New Zealand) is an art therapist and teacher who works to create a safe space for women to explore their identities through art. She has worked with young girls in the Child Cancer Foundation on chemotherapy, incarcerated women at the Christchurch Women’s Prison, and an organization providing care to women rescued from human trafficking in Vietnam. She is inspired by the works Frida Kahlo and New Zealand Suffragette Kate Sheppard.
The women of VIDA constantly aspire to invoke change through their artwork, whether that be through advocating women’s rights, as does the infamous Malik, or provided on the clock care to distressed women, as does the notable Hazlett. Their stories now echo through their craft and their craft allows for their influences to be witnessed and understood. Although different in their own standing, these women work collectively to leave historic marks for this celebratory month and for the many to come.