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Events, Speaking Engagements, Writing

Turn It Up and Disrupt

Find me at UBC’s International Women’s Day Festival

On March 9th, I’ll be returning to The University of British Columbia to speak about creativity and art and social change. Strangely enough, I’ll be one of the classrooms that I once inhabited as an art history student. Little did I know that one day I’d be back for Turn It Up and Disrupt.

My first talk in the morning will be talk with Q&A on social change and creativity. In the afternoon, Laura Farina and I stage a participatory writing session under our artistic collective called The Imprint. Come write with us!

Fundamental Rights Photo by Angelo Wagan on Unsplash

Workshop | Using Your Creativity for Social Change | Frederic Lasserre 105 (LASR) | 11:15-12:15pm

Author Leanne Prain (Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit, Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery, and Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles) will give a talk about how artists, designers, and other creatives can use their work to activate social or political change.

What can we do as designers, artists, and makers to incite positive change in our communities? How do we make space for creativity, while also expanding our practice to include other voices? How do we know if our work has made impact? How can we scale our practice and share it with others? How can we change history by documenting and unearthing artistic practices? Why does collaboration make us stronger?

Art & Writing Workshop | Invite Her to the Table | Lasserre 105 (LASR) | Drop in from 1:30-4:00pm

Inspired by Judy Chicago’s 1979 visual artwork The Dinner Party, which invited accomplished women from history to fictional dinner party; Invite Her to the Table asks participants to invite women and femmes, to tell us who they value. Through participatory writing, we will invite women that we admire to attend a contemporary dinner party in 2019. We will write on the tablecloths, napkins and place settings – and bring others to the table.

This project is presented by The Imprint, a literary collective in Vancouver that engages citizens through participatory writing projects.  

To find out more about the Festival, and to purchase tickets, visit their website.

Zine image
Creativity, Events, Writing

Art & Activism Talk at the CV Web Posse

I’ll be giving a talk about Activism through Art & Design at the Comox Valley Web Posse on June 28th. As I grew up in the valley, I’m really looking forward to meeting the new creative community there, as it has grown leaps and bounds since I left in the 1990’s.

This is a new talk that I’ve developed over the last year that I hope will spur creatives to think of how to responsibly tackle social justice issues through their creative work. Here is the official description of the event:

Activism Through Art & Design Talk

What can we do as designers, artists, and makers to incite positive change in our communities? How do we make space for creativity, while also expanding our practice to include other voices? How do we know if our work has made impact? How can we scale our practice and share it with others? How can we change history by documenting and unearthing artistic practices? Why does collaboration make us stronger?

Author Leanne Prain will take you on an exploratory tour of how artists and designers can use their work to activate social or political change. By sharing a wide variety of examples from around the world, Leanne will discuss how art can be used to implement civic collaborations, community co-creations, conversation-worthy street art, and covert storytelling. Learn how to implement your creative work in a way that will have true and long-lasting social impact.

This 45-minute talk will be accompanied by large-scale visuals, with a round-table discussion to follow.

NIC, Tyee Hall, Room 203
Cost: $10 includes door prizes
Students: free

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.


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.


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:

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.


Works That Work title page
News, Writing

New writing: Works That Work

Works that Work Magazine, Issue 7

Works that Work Magazine

It’s been quiet on this site for a while, but I have been writing. My article on diversion safes Hiding In Plain Sight is featured in the latest issue of the design magazine Works That Work. I had a lot of fun writing about security devices (catches that can hold money, passports, candy, or even weapons) that look like common household objects.

Other news:

Vancouver’s Our Social Fabric, the non-profit volunteer-run fabric recycling centre, who I profiled for Seamwork Magazine last fall, reopened their doors in a beautiful new space this past weekend! If you are local, be sure to visit one of their sales, or offer to volunteer – they need people to sort lots and lots of fabric.

I’m passionate about building Canada’s small but mighty design community, and I’ve just been elected to the board of the Lower Mainland Chapter of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada as Copywriting Chair. Have opinions on how to make the design society more relevant and accessible to members and non-members? Drop me a line via copywriting (dot) bc (at) gdc (dot) ca.

I recently designed some postcards for Ms. Craftivism Betsy Greer‘s project You Are So Very Beautiful. This collaborative stitching project is now part of Faythe Levine’s curated exhibition CounterCraft: Voices of the Indie Craft Movement, Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton MA.

I was raised in a small island community that has a ton of writers – including Jack Hodgins, Pamela Anderson, Alice Munro (my mother checks her books out at the local library), and Kim Cattrall (her sister was my grade four teacher). Don’t believe me? Find us all included in the new directory Comox Valley Writers and Books 1865-2015.