New York Times bestselling author Janet Mock is an American writer, producer, director, advocate for trans rights, and the founder of #GirlsLikeUs, a social media project that empowers trans women. Janet gained prominence as a contributing editor for Marie Claire, and for her inspirational memoirs Redefining Realness and Surpassing Certainty.
Mock made television history this year as the first trans woman of color to write, direct, and produce a series with Ryan Murphy’s FX drama POSE, which has assembled the largest cast of trans actors in a series. Coming out publicly as a transperson in 2011, Mock challenged the media’s representation of trans people, educating the unaware and empowering trans people all over the world.
For her work as a transgender activist, TIME has named Mock as one of the “100 Most Influential People of 2018,” one of the “30 Most Influential People on the Internet,” and one of the “12 New Faces of Black Leadership.” In 2017, Variety named her one of its “Power of Women,” she was featured on Ebony’s Power 100 list, and the PEN Center USA presented her with an Award of Honor during their 27th annual Literary Awards festival. Mock has also received awards and accolades from the American Library Association, The Center for LGBTQ Studies, GLSEN, and the Feminist Press.
In Statues for Equality, Mock is depicted in a plumeria, a fragrant and ornamental flower that grows in shrubs and small trees. A symbol of female sexuality in ancient Mayan culture, plumeria are beloved in Mock’s native Hawaii where they are used to make decorative leis.
On August 26, Women’s Equality Day 2019, artists Gillie and Marc Schattner are bringing to life a dream, the move towards equal representation in women statues.
In a moment of deep self-reflection, they realized they had been contributing to the lack of women representation in their public art. However, the artists decided they could not sit back and let history repeat itself. Something has to change, and so with their new project, ‘Statues for Equality,’ they have self-funded ten new women statues.
Because of this project, New York is becoming the first city to change the dynamics considerably - as the ten women are launched the percentage of female statues in the city will jump from 3% to 9%. The project will launch at RXR Realty’s iconic Avenue of the Americas.
Joining the ten ‘Statues for Equality’ are portraits of each woman in a groundbreaking new show that expresses diversity and gender equality. Exhibiting alongside their permanent statue sisters at 61 Broadway, NYC, they will be on show for the public for 12 months.
The women are painted on fabric from around the world, just as they as women represent the diversity of womankind, as does the soft materials that embody strength. Each piece has its own texture, shape, and feel.
The women’s faces are depicted in black and white, where each line becomes part of the narrative of the portraits, revealing the fine attention to detail from the artists. However, their hair and clothes are full of color and patterns to challenge the ideals of how women should present themselves in society.
The use of fabric can take literal meaning, as well; even though the material is soft, beautiful, and used as a way to express individuality. Fabric is also a carrier: babies are held close to us in wraps of material; when we cannot hold everything, we us it to transport goods and objects; and it dresses us, for warmth and support.
The metaphor extends into the roles of women, and Gillie and Marc’s clever use of this medium reminds us again how important women are to our lives and the basis of society. Fabric is also another way to show our individuality.
Just as the ten women statues, made out of bronze and standing larger than life, can teach us something about diversity and gender equality, so will these fabric portraits showcase softer, tender moments of intimate and feminine representatives.
For the next 12 months, Gillie and Marc are aiming to paint 100 women, voted for by the public, who inspire greatness in our societies.
#womenforequality will become an extension of #statuesforequality – use the hashtag to vote for the most inspirational women you know, and take a photo with the paintings and statues to share Gillie and Marc’s message of equality.