Monthly Archives: October 2019

The 2019 Woke 100: And So Many More Black Women to Honor


Debbie says:

Essence Magazine has published it’s “2019 Woke 100” list of black women “women who exemplify the true meaning of being change agents and power players.”

I started by trying to see how many of the names were familiar to me. If you do the same, you’ll find household names that almost everyone knows (Michelle Obama! Simone Biles!). You may also find people whose paths you’ve crossed (I found a couple), people whose work you know, people whose work you want to know. Two women I’d never heard of who particularly struck me are Shirley Raines, who does “makeovers, haircuts and manicures to the homeless community of L.A.’s skid row—all while mothering six kids, holding down a full-time job and cooking for 400 to 600 people each week” and Jodie Patterson, who not only came to terms with her 3-year-old’s gender change but writes and speaks about what she’s learned.

Two things about this list are especially notable:

First, its range. Along with the activists, politicians, athletes and entertainers whom you might expect to find here, there are scientists, attorneys, and corporate VPs. And much more.  Trans women, and people of mixed race/ethnicity, are represented.

Second, how many woke black women doing great work are not on it. Granted that the online list only goes to 94 of 100, I can easily name more than 6 people I would consider including. The authors don’t say anything about how the list was put together (or how the order was chosen); that really doesn’t matter, because everyone on it has a biography that makes it clear she deserves to be on it. I’m just pleased to see that a list of 100 isn’t remotely big enough to cover the territory.

Make no mistake: some of this may be a flowering of black women, but most of it is a better lens. This is the third annual Woke 100 list from Essence (and some of the names I was thinking of show up in the previous two years). Here are the 2017 and 2018 lists. We live in a world where much of the power structure wants to silence and disappear black women, and yet we have to celebrate this opposite trend: naming, claiming, showcasing, and honoring.


The Fabulous Subtle and Confrontational Art of Dorian Katz

Laurie says:

I’ve been a fan of my friend Dorian Katz‘s work for a long time. It can seem deceptively simple and childlike until you pay attention. Then you realize that you are looking a a remarkably high quality of art that confronts a remarkable array of social bigotry and phobias.  Ones that damage many lives. Her avatar is Popper the Pony.

She recently created 2 superb zines. One about Popper’s first visit to the Whitney Biennial – The Pony’s 1st Whitney (the biennial) & Other Art Mischief. You can buy the zines and lots of other work here.

She says: This was my first time at a Whitney Biennial. At home in the San Francisco Bay Area, visiting survey shows on what’s important locally leave me with overwhelming feelings of despair. On the subway to the Biennial, I began sketching and writing my feelings about visiting this important show. I stopped to sketch and write frequently during my museum visit. This was the start of A Pony’s First Whitney: the Biennial.

And what an outrageous visit it was!

The second is This Zine Does Not Meet Community Standards, a collaboration between Dorian and other artists.

She says: We chose the title, This Zine Does Not Meet Community Standards, to mock Instagram’s generic response when they censor people. Our community is queer artists and sex workers.

My friend, Buck Deerborn and I were discussing that we meet people who have never heard of Sesta-Fosta, a law that claimed to reduce online sex trafficking. Sesta-Fosta is really a censorship law. It endangers Sex Workers physical safety and livelihoods. We decided to make a zine with a few friends to discuss it’s impact, online censorship more broadly & what sex workers like about their job.

I think this quote from Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa in Art Practical  says a lot about Dorian’s work.

Though Katz’s visual works evoke a visceral response, it is also the durational and participatory context of their presentation—as described in the examples above—that enables a fuller engagement. The strength and efficacy of her images lie in their ability to serendipitously penetrate the viewer’s psyche and body—whether while sitting on the bus, or riding the slow waves of sleep or lovemaking. Their depiction of radical genders and sexual practices does the important work of keeping our beloved and dystopian Bay Area queer, which has increasingly proven to be a challenge given the region’s drastic demographic shifts since the early 2010s.8 The sexual synaesthetics and utopian imagery that characterize Katz’s drawings offer relief in the midst of dark times, making her art practice a politicized form of art therapy, as well as queer culture preservation.

Dorian’s instagram account is here. You should really check it out.