by Clio le Faye

Hello! I’m Clio (aka Olivia Trimble), a second generation sign painter and muralist living in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This month we are talking about what has led us to where we are today in our journey as feminists. I’ve reached out to three of the most badass artists that I know to see what they have to say about it.

I’ve always been inspired by strong women. It started with my mom and my grandma who are both hardworking and creative ladies. My love for art and support from my family helped me begin to shape my views on feminism. In high school I realized being an artist was an opportunity to be seen as an equal and display my point of view as a woman. The first artist that really captured my attention was Fafi. Fafi is a French graffiti artist who showcases very feminine characters who blur the lines of sexy and strong. She brought such a large feminine voice to a very male dominated medium. I love that about her. I knew from that point that I wanted to join the female art movement and make a voice for myself and other people who feel the same way.

There have been several times when I’ve been discouraged or not taken seriously because I’m a woman and I use that as an opportunity to fight back. For example, I had a teacher in college who pretty much told me I should find a different major because I wasn’t going to be successful as an artist. Just before the semester was over I ignored him and applied for an art scholarship which I won over 800 other students.

ARTIST: Monica Jordan

I’ve always been a feminist…I suppose what has evolved has been my explicit recognition of my beliefs as “feminism” as I’ve gotten older. Growing up in rural Arkansas, feminism was somewhat of bad word, mostly stemming from misunderstanding I think. The dictionary defines a feminist simply as a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. It’s only called feminism because women are the oppressed — the movement aims to bring women up to the same level as men, not grant them more opportunities or rights.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg” and “Thelma & Louise” were two portraits I had been envisioning for a long while, with no real intention other than paying tribute or “fan-girling” as I sometimes do.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg is one of my heros. She was the first tenured female professor of law at Colombia University, and the second female Supreme Court Justice, “RBG” is an intellectual icon, an intergenerational spirit, notorious for her dissents — her first official act as Supreme Court Justice was dissenting.

ARTIST: Stacy Bowers

I think I’ve always been a feminist, whether or not I knew that was the word for it at the time. I grew up reading a lot of books that had strong girl leads, and my best friend was a tomboy. We played in the dirt, built fortresses, and didn’t back down from fights. I remember when boys started to physically pick on me in middle school, I’d fight them back. I had a very close group of girlfriends all through middle and high school, and we supported each other. We were the outcasts: the art nerds, the writers, the anime club, the dyed hair-havers, the baggy jeans wearers. We admired and supported each other. I’m lucky to have had a family that raised me to believe that I could be whatever I wanted to be as long as I kept learning, worked hard and stayed true to myself.

My feminism probably evolved first from my drive to take care of myself, be the strongest I could be, and let no one stand in my way into a broader, societal, universal push for change. I think a lot of people’s journeys through feminism probably start that way, looking within yourself and looking for fairness and justice and then seeing that you and your issues are part of much bigger issues, many of which don’t even directly affect you as an individual, but are part of the broader feminist struggle and therefore part of your fight.