By Jenny Green
International Women Artists’ Salon
New York City
Nearly thirty nations were given voice at the International Women Artists’ Salon’s fourth annual tribute to women artists from across the world, throughout time, to celebrate to Women’s History Month on March 8, 2015.
Monologues, songs and even samba were used to pay tribute to the legacy of cultural riches created by women around the world and sustained today by the women and the city of New York in the Salon sYmphoNY event. The multi-disciplinary event featured women artists of all ages from Scotland to Singapore and Nigeria to Native America in the Great Room of the South Oxford Space in Brooklyn.
“It was totally amazing. I was so inspired,” enthused Tiwa Ibirogba, who was representing the nation of Nigeria, via the work of novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi. For Tiwa, the highlight of the sYmphoNY was the recital of a letter from President Obama, endorsing equal opportunities for women.
President Obama had written to Yvette Heyliger who was part of a contingent from the League of Professional Theatre Women. The League’s International Committee performed a collection of works selected by their members. ‘In Celebration of the Eternal Female Voice’ presented readings from such historical figures as Lynne Fontanne and Lina Kostenko.
The IWAS collaborated with the League of Professional Theatre Women, the Optimistiks, and the ART New York in putting together the event which honored women’s work world-wide.
Among the women honorees were:
AUSTRIA: Maria Anna (Nannerl) Mozart. There was another Mozart, a forgotten genius – Nannerl, the sister of Amadeus. A prodigy, keyboard virtuoso and composer, she performed throughout Europe with her brother to equal acclaim, but her work and her story faded away, lost to history. Sylvia Milo’s play, The Other Mozart, brings Nannerl story to life. Visit theOtherMozart.com
Honored by: Sylvia Milo – An actress, playwright and producer. Her play, The Other Mozart, (“Strikingly beautiful” – NY Times) is currently touring in the US and in Europe. She played Bob Dylan in the OBIE Award-winning The West Village Fragments, Hamlet in Hamlet — an all-female version of the play, which she adapted and directed herself, she starred and co-wrote Seating Arrangements for the Flea Theater, among others.
PHILIPPINES: Natividad Almeda-Lopez (8 September 1892 – 22 January 1977) was the first female lawyer in the Philippines, passing the bar in 1913. She was also the first woman to defend a woman in a court of law. She has been described as a “beacon in the feminist movement”. She is also a suffragist. She saved a lot of lives of women and chil- dren, through the foundation, Gota de Leche (Goat’s Milk), which provided food and milk during the epidemic which spread in the Philippines as one of the devastating impacts of WWII.
Honored by: Marivir Montebon is a journalist and writer in New York City. She is the publisher of OSM! Online magazine www.justcliqit.com which will be three years on March 18, 2015. She has published her third book, “Biting the Big Apple: Memoirs of a Journalist Turned Immigrant”. (Editor’s Note: Montebon was not present during the event due to health reasons, nevertheless submitted her honored artist/feminist as part of the program).
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Julia Alvarez (born March 27, 1950) is a Dominican-American poet, novelist, and essayist. Born in New York of Dominican descent, she was raised in the Dominican Republic until age 10 when her family was forced to flee political persecution. Alvarez rose to prominence with the novels How the García Girls Lost Their Accents (1991) and In the Time of the Butterflies (1994). Alvarez’s works are influenced by her experiences as a Dominican in the United States, and focus heavily on issues of assimilation and identity.
Honored by: Laysha Duran – Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in the Bronx, she has been writing since she first picked up an R.L. Stine book and dancing before she learned how to walk. Aside from dancing, acting, and writing she also works on her jewelry line Tsukasa and Ana and hopes to get her MBA and grow her Jewelry business. A contributor to Manhattan with a Twist, News Cult, and Fit by Karma, follow her @ayumitakashi
NIGERIA: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi (born 15 September 1977) is a Nigerian novelist and short story writer. She has been called “the most prominent” of a “procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [that] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature”.
Honored by: Tiwa Ibirogba grew up in Northamptonshire England, to Nigerian parents. She moved to New York City two years ago to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Tiwa is enjoying soaking up all the Big Apples’ energy before she decides to go home.
NATIVE AMERICA: Paula Gunn Allen (1939-2008) was born in Albuquerque, and grew up in Cubero, New Mexico, bordering the Laguna Pueblo reservation. She earned a PhD at the University of New Mexico and worked as a professor- researching tribal religions. Allen stated many Native American tribes were “gynocratic”, with women making the principal decisions, and that other tribes believed in absolute balance between male and female, with neither side gaining dominance. Books include The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions (1986), and Grandmothers of the Light (1991).
Honored by: Dorothy Krakauer – International artist and curator Dorothy Krakauer was born on the Indian Reserva- tions Nations in Montana. She studied oil painting in Tokyo, Japan, and received a Bachelor of Arts from UMass Boston. Dorothy works in oils, watercolors, pencils, charcoal, pastels and photography, and is the recipient of several international awards. Her artwork is currently in the IWAS Salon Solo Producers’ Club; Montserrat International Salon 2015; and Studio 26 in New York. Visit dororthykrakauer.com.
There were also visual art contributions from Marla Mossman, with a photographic essay of her travels along the Silk Road, and a variety of musicians shared their sound, including Kalen Lister and Eleanor Dubinsky as Jenny D Green played host, on behalf of The OPTimistiks Collective, which collaborated in mounting the event.
As well as feeding the artistic soul, there was an international array of nourishment from lavender-infused cupcakes to pomegranate-based cocktails.
Proceeds from this global celebration of women’s artistry went to The Flag Project of the Ladies Trekking Club, which has carried a flag to Mt Kilimanjaro bearing the names of women striving for educational equality for all children.
Details of this and other projects of the International Women Artists’ Salon, including their weekly Radio show, on City World Radio Network, can be found at https://internationalwomenartistssalon.wordpress.com/
(Featured photo is singer Kalen Lister. Photos by Orly Benun and Conseula Moralishvili)