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Leanne

A written list of women's names on a desk top with a keyboard
Creativity, Inspiration, Writing

100 Women Whom I Admire

In celebration of International Women’s Day I wrote a list.  I thought that I’d write a few names, but then it became longer…and longer.

Here is a list of 100 living women that I admire, both professionally and artistically.

This list is not exhaustive. I could easily write down 500 more names. I already have half of next year’s list swimming in my head. If you are reading this list, and you think that you should be on it, yes – you probably should be. Feel free to add your name and links in the comments below.

These are women who I think that everyone should know about. Some of them I know personally, some of them I do not. The only common thread here is that they are all inspire me. They inspire me to do more, be more, care more, and think more.

100 Women for International Women’s Day

  1. Mushroom suit inventor Jae Rhim Lee delivered my favourite TED talk of all time.
  2. Artist and rabble rouser Judy Chicago has been pulling women’s stories from history and has been resisting and persisting longer than most of us
  3. Photo journalist Christine Germano
  4. Surface designer Vikki Wiercinski of Mezzaluna Studio
  5.  Designer, artist, and Olympic metal designer Corrine Hunt
  6. Journalist, author and podcaster Sarah Vowell
  7. Artist Camille Engman
  8. Thought leader and civic designer Dana Chisholm
  9. Typographer, lettering artist and amazing personal project maker Jessica Hische
  10. MOMA Senior Design Curator, design salon host, writer and speaker Paola Antonelli
  11. Queen of Shitty Robots Simone Giertz whose humour smartly shows us that anyone can experiment with robotics
  12. Yoko Ono (enough said)
  13. Designer, typographer, and valentine-maker Marian Bantjes
  14. Design leader, educator, record keeper, Outlet owner and illustrator Kate Bingaman-Burt.
  15. I want to read everything by writer Rebecca Solnit.
  16. Designer, editor and writer Jessica Helfand
  17. My frequent artistic collaborator, educator and poet Laura Farina
  18. Buffy Sainte-Marie, a legend
  19. Shelia Sampath, the founder of The Public Design Studio, a design studio devoted to social justice and change
  20. Designer, publisher and brand-change advocate Anne Miltenburg
  21. Book publicist, writer and fatshion icon Cynara Geissler
  22. Writer, director and filmmaker Mina Shum
  23. Musician Cyndi Lauper 
  24. Podcaster, educator, brand designer and writer Debbie Millman
  25. Textile artist and educator Katherine Soucie
  26. Colette Patterns founder Sarai Mitnick who used her user experience background to start a sewing pattern company
  27. Artist and illustrator Molly Crabapple
  28. Lizzy Karp, event producer, host, speaker
  29. Design critic, writer, and educator Alice Tremlow
  30. Filmmaker, director, photographer and curator Faythe Lavine 
  31. Design writer and critic Anne Quito
  32. The Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw
  33. Choreographer Vanessa Goodman 
  34. Artist and community space maker Candy Chang
  35. Artist and community activist Andrea Creamer
  36. Author, technical editor, designer, photographer Mandy Moore (who I co-authored Yarn Bombing with)
  37. Musician PJ Harvey
  38. Comic artist and creativity coach Jessica Abel
  39. Good witch Anne Banner, owner of Salmagundi West
  40. Namita Gupta Wiggers, co-founder of the Critical Craft Forum
  41. Project H design educator and advocator, bringing design to rural areas Emily Pilloton
  42. Freelance arts and culture writer Nathalie Atkinson
  43. Antoinette Carroll, Designer and owner of Creative Reaction Lab, a design firm focused on creating equity-focused community design.
  44. Writer Joan Didion (I recommend watch the new documentary on her life, The Centre Will Not Hold)
  45. Printmaker and educator Jen Hewitt
  46. TV writer and poet Jennica Harper
  47. Illustrator and artist Lisa Congdon (if you are not reading her blog, you should be!)
  48. Healer, photographer and writer Susannah Conway
  49. Writer Claire Vey Watkins
  50. Rock star Kim Gordon
  51. Artist, cartoonist, cabaret performer and musician Dame Darcy
  52. Cyclist, bicycle advocate and publisher Elly Blue
  53. Product designer Diane Espiritu
  54. Ceramist Maggie Boyd
  55. Writer and tarot artist Michelle Tea
  56. Bust Magazine Publisher, author and knitter Debbie Stoller
  57. Force of nature Tavi Gevinson
  58. Storytelling quilt artist Marion Coleman
  59. Journalist and writer Jackie Wong
  60. Illustrator and surface designer Erin Gibbs
  61. Artist Geninne
  62. Paper artist and community art advocate Rachel Ashe
  63. Writer and design educator Erin Ashenhurst
  64. Textile artist Sonja Philip who started her sewing journey with 100 acts of making
  65. Craftivist and author Betsy Greer
  66. Adult camp counsellor, maker, writer and editor Kim Werker
  67. Novelist, cook and blogger Felicia Sullivan
  68. Writer Roxane Gay
  69. Printmaker and surface designer Lotta Jansdotter
  70. Entrepreneur and writer Rena Tom
  71. Cookbook author, science writer, and funny woman Emily Wight
  72. Punk rocker and painter Jean Smith (of Mecca Normal)
  73. Making advocate, Vancouver Mini Maker Faire founder, and designer Emily Smith
  74. Blogger and product designer Joy Cho
  75. Embroidery artist and author Jenny Hart
  76. Artist Aram Han Sifuentes, creator of many things including the Protest Banner Lending Library
  77. Sarah Clugage, founder of Dilettante Army
  78. Publisher of Design Sponge and author Grace Bonney
  79. Actor Sandra Oh, the coolest girl in school
  80. Jen Simmons, design advocate, and front-end coder – expert in CSS grid
  81. Writer and critic Alissa Walker, who writes about walking in LA
  82. Comic artist and writer Lynda Barry 
  83. Business owners, entrepreneurs, web designers, early feminist bloggers Emira Meares and Lauren Bacon
  84. Writer, podcaster and writing cheerleader Rachael Herron
  85. Writer Miriam Toews
  86. Designer and gardener Gayla Trail
  87. Poet and writer Susan Musgrave
  88. Designer Kelli Anderson
  89. Illustrator Jill Bliss
  90. Musician Kathleen Hanna
  91. Chef, nutritionist and blogger Sarah Britton of My New Roots
  92. Comic artist and modern truth teller Mari Andrew
  93. Michelle Obama (obviously.)
  94. Comic artist and memoirist Ayun Halliday 
  95. Tattoo artist Sweet Sue Tattoo Sue Jeiven
  96. TV writing mastermind Shonda Rhimes
  97. Journalist and speaker Samaah Jaffer
  98. Designer Betsy Johnson
  99. Comedian Ali Wong
  100. Apple designer Susan Kare

Who inspires you? As an act of radical self-care, I recommend writing your own list and sharing it with the women you know.

 

A man wearing a hat that says Love Your Neighbour
Creativity, Interventions, Quote, Resist

Using Art to Resist

“A reminder that all acts of making are by their very definition acts of resistance, and they are political. Even if you don’t think so.” — Karie Westerman

Creative Resistance Resources

Artist Interviews, Writing

New Writing: A Wardrobe for Wellness

One of my greatest writing joys of the past few years was being able to contributing to Works That Work, a magazine of unexpected creativity. Works That Work published articles focused on the impact of design, and the many ways that we perceive and react towards design.

Changing the Hospital Experience through Fashion

I wrote a final article for Issue No. X. My profile “A Wardrobe for Wellness” explores the work of Molly Bonnell, an emerging designer. During her studies at Parsons’ School of Design, Molly designed a line of fashion called ‘Hospital Hacks.’ The line has been designed to facilitate medical treatments. Her clothing subverts the idea that patients must wear clothing that do not work for them. It strives to reclaim positive experiences of dignity, comfort, and pride in the patient experience.

I expect to hear great things about Molly and her work in the future. You can read the full story on how she developed Hospital Hacks online at Works That Work.

The final issue No. X can be ordered here, along with remaining back issues.

Fundamental Rights Photo by Angelo Wagan on Unsplash
Personal Essay

On Making 2018 Count

2017 was confusing, maddening, wonderful, and bittersweet. It was a year that challenged me to be more conscious – that we must still fight for democracy, equality, and even the idea of a collective, hopeful future. It was a year where I came face to face with my white, educated, Canadian, middle-class privilege. I learned when to speak out when it was necessary, and when it was important to hold back and to let others speak for themselves. It was a year to acknowledge and listen to other voices.

I spent a great deal of the spring glued to the news, absorbing the fear and hate and bravery that I saw happening in the US, and here at home in Canada. I learned a lot from my coworker – an outspoken, whip-smart Hijab-wearing journalist. We talked about her experiences of hate and discrimination and traded thought pieces on feminism. I went to the Women’s March in Vancouver to yell at the newly installed Trump Tower. I bought Rebecca Solnit’s The Mother of All Questions.

I saw the bravery of health care professionals and regular citizens in my city working to combat an overdose epidemic, often putting the needs of others before themselves. I had more friends get displaced by my city’s housing crisis. I wept when our local government was overturned and politicians started talking about shelter, treatment, economic-equality, and support.

I left an exciting but all-consuming day job to pursue work that would align more with my creative needs. I spoke about art and activism in libraries and bookstores. I stayed at a potter’s house on a Gulf Island. I skyped with far-away friends and willed them close. I sewed a dress and cut out the fabric pieces in order to sew another. I knit a few pink hats.

I went to Regina and learned about the odd history of Canadian letterpress circus posters. I took photos of weather-beaten signage. I returned home and bought a $100 painting from an indie rock legend.

I was interviewed for a local paper on my opinion of activist t-shirts. I applied for a grant. I published two articles in Works that Work– one on gameplay for astronauts and the other on fashion that works in hospitals. I organized a Vancouver Design Week event on design and civic issues at Vancouver City Hall.

In October, I wrote in a little walk-up in Montreal’s little Italy while attending the World Design Summit. I read Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist. I ate warm pastry embedded with bits of candied ginger. I visited a friend’s bar and listened to him play records under the slowest disco ball in the world (moving at 1/16th of a second). My heart broke and opened a little during the dawn of #MeToo. I saw absurdist Dadaist performance art in a room filled with birdcages and Christmas lights.

In November, I penned 32,000 words of a terribly silly NaNoWriMo novel about feminist witches. I thought about my relatives who fought in the great wars and what they sacrificed. I visited Salmagundi to have my tarot cards read (the future is coming, and that’s all that I can share with you for now).

I finished the year with the resolve that I can and must do some things differently in order to contribute to the kind of world that I want to experience.

While I have two book-length projects on the go, I miss the connection that I receive from blogging on a consistent basis. So, for 2018, it is my intention to return to writing regular posts on art, craft, design, activism, feminism, storytelling, and, of course, profiles of the many artists and makers that inspire me. I hope that it will inspire you too.

May this year provide you with the tools that you need to make the change that you want to see in the world. We’re all here together. Let’s make it count.

Writing

New Writing: Zero-Gravity Games

Last winter, when North America seemed to be a more accessible, science-focused place, I was able to pick up the phone and chat with scientists from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency) on their medical research on the International Space Station. The results of these conversations, along with some interviews with game system designers, was this new article on the importance on play in space for Works That Work magazine: https://worksthatwork.com/9/zero-gravity-games-how-astronauts-play-in-space

Each of the scientists that I spoke with stressed that the ability to look out the window and see the round orb of our earth; it helps astronauts keep a healthy perspective of always having the world as a touch-point so that they don’t feel adrift in the universe.

No matter how far they go, astronauts need to maintain a healthy attachment to the earth.  It is essential to their mental health to know that know that they can call their loved ones anytime, and that they have time to rest. Astronauts always get the weekends off to relax and regroup.

Good advice for astronauts, and for the rest of us.

 

Kim Werker and Leanne Prain wearing pussy hats at the Vancouver Womens' March
Events

International Women’s Day Talk

Knitting and activism go hand-in-hand.

UBC Bookstore, Be a Knit ActivistOn International Women’s Day, I will be speaking on the topic of feminism, art and activism.

Be Bold for Change
March 8, 2017, 5 pm
UBC Bookstore, The University of British Columbia
Book signing to follow

Prior to my talk, the bookstore will host knitting lessons. I encourage knitters (or knitters in the making) to craft while I talk.

Find out more about the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/139446109907260

If you are in the area drop by, knit some stitches, and say hello!