By the Co-Op Web Team
In this last post for August’s creativity month, the staff at Co-Op Web have contributed to pay tribute to creative women who’ve inspired us, with an emphasis on those who continued to create and inspire well into their 70s, 80s, and 90s.
Temari ball artist
I don’t know her name, but in 2013, she was 92 years old and lived in Japan. Her granddaughter, who goes by the online name NanaAkua, was so inspired by her beautiful work that she photographed hundreds of her grandmother’s finished pieces to share online, and that’s how she touched my heart all the way around the globe. NanaAkua’s grandmother is a Temari ball artist. I have never finished a Temari ball myself, but I am still inspired by the fact that NanaAkua’s grandmother didn’t even learn the intensely detailed, intricate technique until she was in her 60s.
According to Wikipedia: “Temari are highly valued and cherished gifts, symbolizing deep friendship and loyalty. Also, the brilliant colors and threads used are symbolic of wishing the recipient a brilliant and happy life.“
Here’s the story that brought her to me: https://mymodernmet.com/japanese-grandmother-temari/
Women of the Abstract Expressionist Movement
Louise Nevelson, Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Perle Fine, Michael West, Alma Thomas, Joan Mitchell, Mary Abbott, Jay (Mary Joan) DeFeo, Sonia Gechtoff, Grace Hartigan, Judith Godwin and Louise Bourgeois
I’m inspired by the commitment of this era of women. They remained devoted to their creative visions with very few rewards and no support. Plus, their grit in surviving the midcentury art scene is astonishing. From here, the 50s and 60s smug worship of male authority—kicking women out of the factories and fabricating the domestic fantasies still being used to harm us—looks impossible to survive. These women are warriors. They survived it while retaining their artistic visions, often while married and becoming mothers. Some were recognized in the 70s and 80s, but most are still relatively unknown.
Local author Claire Theriot
A local author who inspired me is Claire Theriot, who self-published a children’s book, “Star Eyes Reaches Stylo”, at 95. She was a kindergarten teacher for thirty years and even after she retired, she was still passionate about educating and delighting children. It’s Claire’s determination and perseverance that’s continued to motivate her to live independently with support from family and friends. I think she’s inspiring because not very many people live as long as she has and she’s still making the most of it and keeping her own young, strong spirit alive. She’s a good example!
Word Warrior: Nawal El Saadawi
World-renowned fiction and non-fiction author, physician, psychiatrist, revolutionary and activist for women’s and human rights, Nawal El Saadawi has published well into her eighties. A hero of mine since I was a child, Nawal is still active at 87, and continues to be a beacon of hope and a voice for the countless silent, always at great risk to her own welfare and safety. Creativity has so many destinations. To share beauty, to stretch our imaginations, to explore the human condition and beyond, to bring infinite possibilities into focus. Nawal has used her creativity as a narrative for a larger purpose that has spanned the globe and touched the human condition at the deepest levels.
“Solidarity between women can be a powerful force of change, and can influence future development in ways favourable not only to women but also to men.”
~ Nawal El Saadawi
Shannon E. Franklin
It’s hard to say something about Toni Morrison that hasn’t already been said by those who are much better writers and thinkers than I. She could be raw, she could be funny, and sometimes the layers to her storytelling are so complex that it becomes necessary to read paragraphs and pages repeatedly, sometimes still not fully grasping the meaning. She’s personally inspiring because she’s risen to the ranks of one of the greatest writers in our history, and did so writing for and about the Black experience. Not to mention, she wrote her first novel and one of my favorite books, “The Bluest Eye”, as a 39-year-old mom. In the wake of her death, a number of quotes and video footage have been shared that remind us of her brilliance and indelible imprint on American culture.