Even in this moment of alleged post-feminism, how is it that social media, beauty, and branding still affect women of a certain age?
Kristen Watson and Mary Admasian had decided they were fed up with “age appropriate” clothing and hair dyes. They wanted to know: if we’re supposedly in a movement of “post women’s empowerment,” why is it that so many women still feel pressure to wear makeup, dye their hair, and brand themselves? The SHE Project – Part 1 seeks to respond to these questions.
These multidisciplinary artists put their brains and paintbrushes together in order to create a show that represents the journey of self-discovery related to appearance, and how women reconcile with that journey from youth to seniority. The SHE Project- Part 1 is a collaborative art exhibit that comments on the self-image, self-confidence, and self-actualization of women, and the significant effect that the beauty industry has on women becoming consumers.
“I had been struggling in my own life,” Watson told Take. “I had just turned 40, and I was struggling to find the right clothing that I liked, and hairstyles that I liked, and I just felt like I was sort of at the crux of a shift in how I was presenting myself publicly.” This conversation between Watson and Admasian was the initial inspiration for the SHE Project – Part 1. What makes this exhibit particularly appealing is that it represents what so many women in America are experiencing every single day in regard to their physical appearance and self-confidence – it is overwhelmingly relatable. Watson and Admasian respond to these feelings through the artistic use of mirrors, cosmetics, and “natural elements.”
There’s also a huge element to their exhibit that focuses on the ingredients that are found in most female beauty products. “[The project] morphed into the whole toxic ingredient proponent of hair care products and makeup,” Admasian explains, “and that all of these multinational corporations are producing unregulated, toxic substances that are literally cancer causing and extremely toxic to everyone that uses them.” One of their pieces, rəˈflekt, does, in fact, literally, reflect the toxins that are found in so many of the products that women use every single day.
But Watson and Admasian want the public to realize something important about their work: “[This project] isn’t a public service announcement.” Watson explains. “It’s not trying to steer people towards as certain choice. To me, it’s just about – here’s what I’m seeing in my life, here’s what I’m dealing with as a woman, and here’s what I’m saying.” Indeed, The SHE Project – Part 1, is not a call to action, but instead, a resource of education and inspiration.
Kristen Watson and Mary Admasian are Vermont-based multimedia artists. Check out The SHE Project – Part 1 now through October 28th at the LL Gallery at University of Vermont. Be sure to follow Kristen and Mary for all SHE related updates.