Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Women's March inspires artwork!

Love,  not hate. 
I recognize that there are many people out there that don't get the Women's March. It didn't directly impact their lives and they found the interruption in their social media news feeds more of an annoyance than a touching movement. To those that weren't there, you may never understand the true impact this march had on me personally and that's fine. As an American, each one of us is entitled to our own views and opinions. As an artist, I believe that the right to express ourselves peacefully is incredibly important and that right is one of the many reasons that I chose to join the Women's March.

Agree with it or not, this post isn't about opinions. This post is about me, an artist and a person who wants to bring more positive energy into this world. I spent a lot of time unhappy and angry in my past but over the last decade, I have discovered who I am and what I believe in.

On Saturday, I decided to take myself to the Texas State Capital building in Austin, TX because I wanted to be part of this march. I thought I would take a few photos, say hello to a few friends who I knew were attending and take myself out for a solo lunch date. My partner and best friend, Chris was away on business, so I didn't have him by my side, as he would usually be for events such as this. After arriving at the Capital, I was amazing at the growing crowd. Not only was the lawn filled with women, but men and children, every ethnicity and people of all shapes and sizes were mingling together. The energy was electric.
The Pussy Cat tote bag. $15 each.
50% of each sale will be donated to Hope Alliance.
As it happened, the crowd grew and I was never able to actually connect with the friends I expected to see, but happily ran into an unexpected friend who also attended solo. We both decided it was meant to be and went with our fate, spending the day together, walking among strangers to show solidarity.

After the event was over, I felt like I was flying, the energy and confidence that this crowd had created was pulsing through me. I immediately came home and started painting and focusing on what I wanted to do next. Of course, I wrote my representatives (you can do it as well) and took the actions that I feel every citizen who wants their voice heard should, but I was left with a need to do more.

It was then that I realized I needed to create something special. Inspired by the hundreds of 'Pussy Hats' at the march, I created my 'Pussy Cat in a Pussyhat' tote bag and reached out to a local non-profit that I know and love, Hope Alliance Crisis Center. I will be donating 50% from the sale of each Pussy Cat tote bag to Hope Alliance Crisis Center in an effort to raise awareness and donations for their incredible services.

Hope Alliance offers support to family and sexual abuse victims and is one that personally helped me through some of the toughest years in my own life. After my assault, I was able to seek counseling and find compassion in a support group, which in turn changed my life.

The Women's March in Austin, TX.
While I felt the Women's March was empowering and motivating, I have seen some rather negative comments and have even been asked why I felt it was so important to get involved. To me, this March felt natural, I felt a calling to attend and looking back, I would not change a thing. As a person who has been marginalized and is viewed as a statistic to some, I felt the need to show my support for programs like Planned Parenthood that work to provide care to women. I felt the need to show my support to the LGBT community, who may be at risk of losing their rights under our new administration. I felt the need to show my love to our minority community, who fight every day to be viewed as equal. I felt the need to speak up because, due to my first amendment rights, I can. I deserve to be heard as much as every other citizen.  I didn't march to protest the new president, I marched so that he and every leader of our country will hear my voice. I deserve an administration that works to protect my beliefs, so I took action and marched with millions of others who felt the same. I marched peacefully, happily and proudly and I will continue to make sure my voice is heard.

If you didn't like the March, that's okay too. It's your right. Have an opinion, that's cool, but keep the hate to yourself. I am all about Peace and Love and the real focus here is that I am working to raise donations to better the lives of my fellow citizens!

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art |  Owner | Artist

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Learn more about Hope Alliance Crisis Center here.

A few of my favorite photos from the Women's March on Austin.