I’m going to take the opportunity to reflect a little bit. Women in Design: New Mexico exists to Inspire and Empower women in design professions. So often we emphasize and focus on professions because that’s who we mostly represent – professionals in the building and planning industries. Our members are architects, engineers, landscape architects, interior designers, contractors, and graphic designers. We provide networking opportunities for these professionals and try to provide resources for women that have careers in what still tend to be male-dominated fields. Why do we do this? For many reasons, but one is because we believe that women can do so very much to make this community, this state, this world a better place. Empowered design professionals can promote positive change, can connect the dots and people to get things done, can find the opportunities to use their unique skillsets to do more for the world than simply gaining a paycheck. (And, hopefully, WiD:NM will help them feel empowered to get the paycheck they deserve along the way too.)
But last night, WiD:NM hosted a different kind of event and celebrated a different kind of creativity in women than what our typical design professions usually call for. We partnered with 516 Arts to allow the curators (four amazing women) and several of the female artists to talk about their exhibition From the Ground Up: Design Here + Now. I was excited when this opportunity arose; however I was not prepared for just how provoking the night would be. As I stood there listening to the artists’ humble explanations of their creations, their processes, and the fascinating stories behind their explorations, I was struck by how much talent our community has. I suspect that many of us have other creative facets and could just have easily shown our own side projects (or even main projects), with stories just as fascinating to share.
As design professionals, we have titles such as architect, engineer, project manager, and urban planner. But how often do those really encompass all of who we are creatively? I, for example, am an architect. That’s my title, but currently the majority of my work falls in the interior design category, and I am a (somewhat schizophrenically) a crafter. I dabble in whatever comes to mind when I get the overwhelming urge to make something with my hands. Last night, Danielle Rae Miller had a hard time classifying herself as one thing, calling herself an artist, a designer, a crafter. In truth she is all three. Sara Stewart presented her thought-provoking architectural thesis work, not through architectural drawings and 3d models, but through abstract drawings conveying the feelings, senses, and overall experience that spaces have the ability to bring us.
I love how blurred the lines can be between architecture, art, craft, and also designer, artist, architect. I am so grateful for opportunities like our event last night that show us how the objects and the creators can be so much more than what their titles convey. It seems to me that understanding and celebrating these can lead to better design and better creators. If all of our WiD:NM members had the confidence to celebrate their own creative thought and expression, in whatever medium it comes, what an opportunity that would be for the greater world! I am honored to be a part of such a dynamic community with such creatively talented and empowered members. Consider me inspired.
P.S. Huge thanks go to 516 ARTS for allowing us to be a part of their exhibition, to its curators Katya Crawford, Viviette Hunt, Kristen Shaw, and Mira Woodson for their generous explanations of the exhibit and support of the artists, and to artists Amanda Robinson, Danielle Rae Miller, Emi Ozawa, Jennifer Vasher, and Sara Stewart who took the time to share their process with us. If you missed our event last night and haven’t had a chance to see the entire exhibit, I highly encourage you to visit 516 ARTS soon.