that? that look there on my face? that is the look of sheer, unadulterated joy. i’ll tell you why. in the span of two weeks, i came across amazing graffiti by wall of femmes not once, but twice. i was in montreal very briefly to meet up with my friend karina, and while we headed towards the gallery art mur we came across some awesome graffiti. was i ever excited! “i have to take a picture of this!” i exclaimed. what a projet! who would stencil rosa luxemberg’s face in montreal in 2012, i wondered. wonder no more, the web address said to me. in these modern times, street art meets the internet, and the lovely link was clearly stencilled alongside some gorgeous portraits of revolutionary babes.
imagine my joy and surprise to stumble upon it in my very own city a whole two weeks later! so much joy. so what is wall of femmes, anyway?
Wall of Femmes is a loose collective of feminists living in Montreal. Our aims are many:
• To promote wider recognition and knowledge of women we admire and find inspirational
• To assert the people’s ownership of public space
• To counter the bombardment by mainstream media of negative, unhealthy, unattainable, sexist and/or objectified images of women in our public space
• To engage in the public discourse and contribute to the unique culture of our city in a meaningful way
consider your mission accomplished. as a queer femme who absolutely loves street art and graffiti, this can only be called a radical act of femmepowerement. it totally made my week to be wandering around my city and see familiar names of incredible women just fills my heart with more joy than i can express. the idea that a young person who lives in this city might go home and google the names of the women whose art, words, and work have changed my life (for the better) leaves me feeling hopeful and excited for all the radical learning potential happening here. even i, who consider myself well-versed in feminist herstory, have discovered some new incredible people grâce à ce projet magnifique. seriously, how did i go so long without hearing about lois long?! sans même parler du fait que, en tant que franglophone, j’adore le double sense de “femme.” for francophones, people might just read “wall of women.” but as a queer bilingual person, i totally see the use of the term as a wink to queer femmes who are often rendered invisible.
this also gives me an occasion to express my love of odetta’s music, because her name and face made me particularly happy. i feel like she’s often overshadowed by other bigger names from the era, but her voice! her story! is just fantastic. i am a huge fan of her music.
Dubbed the “Queen of American folk music” by Martin Luther King Jr in 1961, Odetta Holmes was one of the most influential recording artists of the 20th century and an important voice of the Civil Rights Movement. A powerhouse vocalist who toured well into her 70s, often performing from a wheelchair in later years, she released some 25 albums over her impressive career.
also, there’s a great album odetta covers available online. josephine’s cover of the gallows pole is my personal favourite.
last but not least, i leave you with some other examples of yours truly standing next to graffiti that makes me smile: