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Artists ask "Who Does She Think She Is?" in new documentary

The Everywoman’s Center and the Women of Color Leadership Network will be presenting the film, “Who Does She Think She Is?” tonight at 7 p.m. in the Augusta Savage Gallery in the New Africa House. This event is free to everyone, and the location is also wheelchair accessible.

The documentary focuses on five contemporary female artists of varying ages, who come from all over the United States, and portrays the struggles they face both in the world of art as well as balancing their careers with their lives at home.

The artists featured in the film are Angela Williams, a Broadway actress and mother of two living in New York City, N.Y.; Camille Musser, a painter and mother of two residing in Cambridge, Mass; Janis Wunderlich, a Mormon sculptor and mother of five from Ohio; Maye Torres, a sculptor, painter and mother of three living in New Mexico; and Mayumi Oda, a 60-year-old artist and Japanese immigrant.

Although these women come from different places and have different mediums to display their art, they all share common issues and struggles within their lives, and are therefore very relatable to the many female viewers who also face the challenges of balancing work and family.

Not only do these women struggle with balancing their families and careers, but they also deal with the fact that approximately 98 percent of art shown in major museums and exhibits is done by male artists. As a result, these women must each discover ways in which they can stand out amongst their male counterparts, while so many people disregard their work simply because they are women.

According to Hind Mari, an employee from the Everywoman’s Center, the film is “extremely powerful” and “tells the story of great female artists,” while also portraying the “negotiations between being parents, wives and artists at the same time.”

“The men’s art is more appreciated,” Mari says, pointing out that the women have “less exhibits, and less appreciation for their work.”

The film also includes interviews with other artists, such as Riane Eisler, the author of “The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future;” Maura Reilly of the Sackler Center for Feminist Art-Brooklyn Museum; and the Guerilla Girls, famous feminist artists. Each additional artist adds her own opinions and views of women in the world of art.

The film’s producer, Pamela Tanner Boll, won an Academy Award in 2005 for her film “Born into Brothels: The Kids of Calcutta’s Red Light District.”

“Who Does She Think She Is?” was shown this past spring in Amherst, where it was very well received.

After the screening, Mari commented that “we’re hoping to have a discussion after the film by local artists. They can talk about their struggles.” By doing this, the audience will have a means of interacting with people facing very similar issues to those they viewed in the film.

Julie Holbrook can be reached at jholbroo@student.umass.edu.

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