InterUrban ArtHouse’s Influence on the Creative Spirit of UMKC

By Allani Gordon

While the Who Does She Think She Is? Art Exhibition ended a couple of weeks ago, we still want to highlight our university’s relationship with our fellow collaborator, the InterUrban ArtHouse, beyond their participation in our annual art show.

Before the show even took place in the InterUrban ArtHouse, the space’s founder and artistic director Nicole Emanuel had already been showing her loyalty to UMKC’s creative community. Nicole served as one of the first featured artists for the Who Does She Think She Is? Art Exhibition, and has been showing her support for the event ever since. It’s extremely fitting that the all-female show now regularly takes place in InterUrban ArtHouse, as Nicole’s dedication to the local artist community is a symbol of the perseverance and resilience of all female artists.

Wolfe Brack, the InterUrban ArtHouse’s operations manager, also does great work alongside the Women’s Center for Who Does She Think She Is?. Wolfe has an established history with UMKC’s creative life, as his first solo show took place at the UMKC African American Culture House. With the help of our fellow Women’s Center member and HerArt Project founder, Arzie Umali, Wolfe was able to curate his show on our campus. Twenty years later and Wolfe still has a profound memory of the show’s influence on him as an artist. In my interview with Wolfe, he stated that “having that show at UMKC showed me that my art was valued and bolstered my confidence enough to keep showing it.” Wolfe continues to pay homage to UMKC as he collaborates and curates with the Women’s Center and the HerArt project.

It’s important to recognize the efforts of our local organizations and their involvement with UMKC. InterUrban ArtHouse is a non-profit organization that strives to help maintain and evolve creative life not just in Kansas City, but here on our campus too.

Meet the Artist: Lynn Norris

By Elise Wantling

Lynn Norris is one of our wonderful artists whose art was featured in our art exhibition co-hosted with InterUrban ArtHouse titled Who Does She Think She Is? I had the pleasure of interviewing Lynn and learning a bit more about her and her art. Lynn is a three-dimensional artist who sews, weaves, and makes jewelry, pottery, and collages. Occasionally, she dabbles in two-dimensional art, which she describes as black and white doodles that “look like a machine just vomited parts up, and it is punctuated by faces and strange creatures that do not exist in real life”. Her work typically features lots of bright and bold color choices.

Lynn has always made art, but began using art as a form of therapy in 2004 at the KC Veterans Center, where she partook in an art therapy group on Friday mornings. Lynn is a survivor of military sexual trauma and copes with PTSD, and uses her art to help with this.

Lynn served in the US Navy from 1983-1987 and is a proud veteran. She was stationed at Pearl Harbor and Barber’s Point Naval Air base. She began by maintaining grounds and conducting VIP tours of the Arizona Memorial, then worked as a security guard at the ASWOC (Anti-Submarine Warfare Operations Center). She eventually became a Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Petty officer and worked in the base photo lab.

Though she enjoyed art, she admits she wasn’t the best at drawing. She started collecting free magazines from the VA Center and noticed they would make great collage material, since they had the colorful and pretty photos. She was taking an abstract art class with a friend through the Raytown school district at the time, and consulted the art teacher, Dennis Helsel. He agreed with her that making collages might be easier for her than drawing. He helped her “figure out how to pull it off” as she says. The first two collages Lynn made were made of totally random clippings. For the third collage she decided she wanted to make one look like a stained glass window, and that was a jumping off point for her. She divided the clippings according to color, then did colored sections highlighted by a paint pen. She’s been using that technique ever since and has made many beautiful pieces inspired by stained glass windows.

One symptom of Lynn’s PTSD is that she has trouble feeling safe, and to deal with that she became obsessively organized and tidy. Her collages are a break from this. Instead of having strict order, she is able to incorporate randomness and chaos into her art. Just the colors are sorted, other than that there is no logic to her arrangements. She even chooses the titles of the pieces by clipping phrases from the magazines and then drawing them out of a hat. The collages have allowed Lynn to let go of her obsessive-compulsiveness and enjoy being in the moment. In her collages, Lynn has found some freedom while also being able to indulge her artistic side.

You can see Lynn’s work, and the work of many other talented artist, in our online tour of the Who Does She Think She Is? Art show. You can also check out more of Lynn’s work on her website, https://mankopowerudcuc.wixsite.com/lessdemented?fbclid=IwAR07lDkfdD9dWYOSnJyzJFqSjnMPpcMSHHS8E_AXJ_SxGrHwwoRob9oGOAI

Meet Us On The Street- What Is It?

By Haley Dean

If you have been attending UMKC for at least a year, I’m sure you have seen the chalking on the sidewalks that happens in April. Did you know that’s actually an international event? Meet Us On The Street is an international program for anti-street harassment. Participants everywhere spread the message about gender-based street harassment and why it needs to stop.

What is gender-based street harassment?
According to stopstreetharassment.org, gender-based street harassment defined is as follows:

“Gender-based street harassment is unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation.”

If you’ve ever been catcalled, whistled at, groped, or stalked, you have experienced gender-based street harassment. Gender-based street harassment can make the streets feel unsafe for everybody who walks on them.

Why is the program in April?

Meet Us On The Street is held every year for a week in April, because April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. It is the perfect time to bring awareness to the issue.

How can YOU participate in Meet Us On The Street and help spread the word?

The Women’s Center participates in Meet Us On The Street every year. This year we will be holding it as an online campaign for the entire week of the 20th. Take a look at our social media during that week to see what we are doing to spread the word. We will be chalking and writing messages and posting our creations on our social media with the hashtag #StopStreetHarassment. You can join us in spreading the word, too! Make your own creations and post them with the hashtag, or share our posts on social media. The Meet Us On The Street official website has a list of ideas for messages if you need help creating one.

Women’s Center Update

On Friday, March 13, the UM System university announced that all classes will be taught online and all campus events canceled for the remainder of the semester.

This, unfortunately, applies to the UMKC Women’s Center as well and we are canceling all remaining events for the spring semester.  This breaks our hearts, but it’s necessary to prioritize community safety right now.

Additionally, while the Women’s Center remains open, but we are putting social distancing procedures into place, so please call or email ahead if you’re planning to visit. We’re also working on setting up a Zoom account, so stay turned for more information on that.

So Long and Farewell!

By Maggie Pool

Since the beginning of this academic year, I have been an office assistant at UMKC’s Women’s Center. My time here has proven not only my aptitude for learning more about my passions, such as feminism, but also how much power I have in spreading that knowledge to the people around me.

One of my responsibilities was writing a weekly blog post for the Women’s Center website.

“What do I need to write about?” I asked.

“Anything about women.”

As broad as that prompt was, it allowed me to freely explore realms about women in fields that I am already deeply ingrained in, like film, for example. I became fascinated over the gender inequalities surrounding Oscar nominations, especially after this year featured an explosive amount of incredible female directors and female-driven film projects. I explored the history of fallen Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein, who has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for two felony sex crimes. I dove into film industry history with Dorothy Arzner, who was the only woman director to successfully transition into the era of talkies from silent cinema. All of these topics filled me with greater wonder and love for the world of cinema, while also expanding my knowledge of women’s influence in cinema.

Alongside graduate assistant Indra Mursid, I had the honor of creating a brand new Women’s Center program. Indra and I teamed up to start a Menstrual Products Drive to raise awareness about the expenses of menstrual products, the hardships women go through during periods, the Pink Tax, and how many schools are trying to make products more accessible. We held the drives in UMKC’s residence halls, and we were pleasantly surprised to see students excited about our program by donating products for others to use. The ultimate goal was to have products available in every women’s and gender-neutral bathroom on campus. Raising awareness about menstrual cycles makes the subject less taboo. That will hopefully make it more possible in the future for women to have better access to menstrual products and better support systems during menstrual cycles.

My time working at the Women’s Center has been one of my favorite working experiences yet. I’ve told the staff they can’t get rid of me that easily! I will be back for events and to study in the amazing supportive environment that is the Women’s Center. I thank everyone so much for the fun and wonderful experience that this has been! So long and farewell!

Indra’s Experience at the Women’s Center

By Indrasari Mursid

For the past 4 ½ months, I have been the graduate assistant at the Center and throughout that time it has shown me what I’m capable of and what my limits were. Additionally, how little I knew about women (beyond my knowledge of being a Women’s and Gender Studies minor as an undergraduate) in industries like theater and film, sport communication, and business thanks to my incredible co-workers and the events we put on throughout the fall semester.

Throughout the semester, I took photographs at various events, managed social media accounts, assisted in creating programs, created event fliers, and managed the Healing Arts program throughout campus. Managing Healing Arts with workshops provided by A Window Between Worlds proved more to me how impactful art-making for leisure was as far as coping with daily stressors of being a college student amongst other identities. As an artist, I found release in leisurely art-making and that’s how I found the field of Art Therapy in high school.

As an Art Therapy major during my undergraduate career, I had seen how transformative intentional art-making was in a supervised art therapy session related to individual experiences of their domestic life, interpersonal and romantic relationships, trauma, family, sexuality and sex, cultural and religious identities, etc. Facilitating Healing Arts workshops at Hospital Hill, replenishing Stepping Stones for Healing Arts corners around campus, and managing I Can, We Can and Shrink Your Stress gave me an inadvertent, small taste of what it might be like for me as an aspiring art therapist to facilitate an art therapy session in groups or individually. These workshops, events, and corners have affirmed why I want to be an art therapist in the future.

Not only did my experience as a graduate assistant affirm my goal of becoming an art therapist after I obtain my licensed professional counselor (LPC) license, but it affirmed my love for advocating for others especially with my involvement in Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, I Can, We Can, “I Am Enough” photo campaign, Women Who Lead, and reaching out to organizations that also advocate for others like League of Women Voters, MOCSA, Barrier Babes, UMKC’s Counseling Services, UMKC LGBTQIA+ Affairs, and Violence Prevention and Response Program. I have already decided as a licensed professional counselor, I would like to work for a non-profit organization or at least for a company that truly advocates for their patients and employees.

Unfortunately,  I am leaving at the end of the fall semester to pursue other educational opportunities, but I am so grateful for what I have learned, the friendships I made during the process, and the hard skills that will be an asset to me in my future counseling career and in other jobs up until my counseling career. Working at the Women’s Center was truly a learning experience of what I am capable of and what I still have to improve on, but it has cemented my love for counseling, art, and advocating for human rights. I hope to combine all of those interests into my counseling practice.

My Time As An Honorary “Roo”

By Skye VanLanduyt

I’m sad my time at the UMKC Women’s Center is coming to a close. Although I’m not a traditional UMKC student, the Women’s Center welcomed me as their blog editor for this semester. I wish more people in our community knew about the programs, resources, and services the Women’s Center provides.

I loved getting to interact with students, staff, and members of the community on a regular daily basis. However, I will treasure my one-to-one meetings with our Assistant Director, Arzie Umali. She provided me with valuable career development skills, advice, and compassion. I may have graduated with a B.A in English, but I never thought of myself as being “qualified” or “good enough” to be a writer. While studying abroad as an undergrad, a professor told me I was “unfit to be an English major.” Given this was a professor, their words greatly impacted my self-confidence. I started unnecessarily worrying over something as simple as writing an email. Two years later, I can say as an undergraduate, I published eight pieces in my school’s literary magazine. As an intern for the Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City, I’ve kept governments’ accountable and ensured more women become appointees.

Now, I can say I am an honorary “Roo.” It has been a pleasure to be the blog editor for the fall 2019 semester at the Women’s Center. I’ve had the opportunity to staff the front desk and participate in Walk A Mile In Her Shoes®, the UMKC Women’s Center Wine Tasting, and The Clothesline Project. All of these programs and experiences have inspired me to pay closer attention to women right here in our community. It seems silly I let one person’s opinion of me affect how I saw myself. I let a lot of opportunities pass me by, either because I was too scared to try, or because I didn’t see myself as worthy enough. Arzie saw my potential, worth, and capabilities as a writer and young woman when I couldn’t see it for myself. I can’t thank her or the Women’s Center enough for encouraging me to see myself as a strong, qualified, worthy woman. I know I will take what I learned this semester with me for the rest of my life.

I’ve always enjoyed writing about women and LGBTQIA issues, but getting to write and help others write for a larger audience, has been really rewarding. My time as a blog editor for the Women’s Center might be over, but I hope to encourage and inspire other women just as the Women’s Center has inspired me. I know my writing career and commitment to continue fighting for women in the non-profit sector has just begun.

Work Study Student Reflects on Her Time at the Women’s Center

By Adriana Suarez

Working at the Women’s Center for my first semester in college has been an eye opening experience! I have enjoyed the Women’s Center for multiple reasons. The women’s center has allowed me to have the opportunity to be a little more open minded in considering events in not only my own life but in the life of others. In short, the women’s center cultured me. Working at the women’s center, I have worked with a variety of different personalities that I hold closely to my heart. Honestly, the people I worked with have been amazing, understanding, and helpful. The experiences I had at the women’s center opened my mind to see problems

I didn’t consider beforehand. I never knew so many women in our area are in need of the shelters. I have been fortunate to be able to help some of those women by providing them with resources the women’s center offers. Lastly, I have had an amazing time attending the events that the Women’s Center holds for UMKC’s students. The programs have been as small as the Roo up event and as big as the Women who lead.

I feel like from each of these events, I have not only helped make an impact on our campus but I have also become an informed student. The events we hold are a great experience and I hope more people come out to attend in the next semester! I feel as though I am making a difference with each event that I work because I do see the impact it has on UMKC community whether we reach a few students or we reach thirty. Lastly, the work environment that the women’s center has, definitely has taught me about work ethic. This position has definitely been a new experience to me and it has provided me great opportunity for growth and I have learned skills that I can implement in future jobs but will also continue to grow as I stay here longer.

Film Student Reflects on Her Time At The Women’s Center

By Maggie Pool

At the beginning of the semester, I had no idea my life’s journey would lead me to UMKC Women’s Center. My year started out unexpectedly rough, and I wasn’t sure how the rest of my semester would turn out. Fortunately, I was immediately welcomed into the Center’s working family made up of interns, office assistants, Indra, our graduate assistant, and our fearless leaders, Arzie and Brenda. I always felt welcomed, safe, and cared about. Indra would ask me every day how I was doing and would precisely pick up our conversations from where they left off.

If I’m being honest, though, I wasn’t exactly sure what the Women’s Center did for UMKC, so it was very interesting to learn everybody’s roles coming in. Learning about all the different projects everyone was doing for the Women’s Center and where their passions lied when it came to women’s rights struck a chord with me. I realized that the fight for women’s rights could be found anywhere in society. For example, some focused more on women’s sports, where other’s found greater enthusiasm in supporting women in the arts. It’s inspiring to see how anyone with any passion can channel those feelings into advocating for women’s rights.

I, unexpectedly, found a pocket in my life to create a project for the Women’s Center. Other than working at the Women’s Center, I’m also an RA at UMKC’s Johnson Hall. Indra and I paired up with Residential Life to make UMKC’s first ever Menstrual Products Drive. The drive took place over the course of a month during Wing Wars, an annual competition held at the residence halls. Each residence hall received a box and scored points for donated menstrual products. The goal was to receive as many donations as possible to then be placed in gender neutral bathrooms on campus. We hope to expand on this project in the future. It was incredible to have such an impact on the Women’s Center my very first semester here! I am grateful for the experience and for meeting all the different and amazing women of the Women’s Center.

The Vagina Monologues are right around the corner!

By Michelle Lawson

The Vagina Monologues is a tradition here at the Women’s Center, and we are getting ready for our annual performance coming up on February 27th. This year we are excited to announce that we have a massive cast of 41 passionate, and strong women, who are ready to take on the Vagina Monologues. Our cast consist of women from all walks of life, from veteran performers to Vagina newbies. These Students, alumni, and community members all have one thing in common, their dedication to ensuring women’s voices are heard. And that’s really what the monologues are all about, creating a platform for women’s voices, and stories to be heard.

The Vagina Monologues are just one aspect of V-day, which is a global movement to end gender based violence started by Eve Ensler (who wrote the monologues). This movement started because women were sick of the way they were treated, they were sick of the way they were overlooked, abused, and neglected. This play is here to nurture, to listen, and to advocate for women. That is why I am so proud to be able to work on this project. And I am bringing the, energy, passion, and love that women deserve with me. As every day passes I am becoming more and more excited to bring this piece to an audience. I am excited to fill a room with hundreds of women of all different backgrounds to talk about Vaginas.

I strongly encourage that you put February 27th into your calendars, and make an effort to join us in this experience. I can promise that there will be laughter, sadness, anger, vulgarity, community, and hope. Hope for the future in a time where we all need as much as we can get.