Friday, July 31, 2009

New Stencil by KM Stitchery: This is What a Womanist Looks Like

This is a guest post from everyone’s favourite Gus and queen of the Sunday Shame, Allison McCarthy

KM Stitchery is an Etsy shop run by Lindsay Keating-Moore, a Minneapolis-based artist who designs stencils of womanist/feminist icons.  Lindsay was inspired to start her shop after noticing a trend of popular t-shirts featuring male sociopolitical icons, yet few of the shirts she saw portrayed women. 

 image One of her most recent stencils is especially innovative in its recognition of womanism.  Lindsay uses images and text to provide an image of Alice Walker, who originally coined the term womanism in her book In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens: Womanist Prose.  As a play on the popular “This is what a feminist looks like” slogan, Lindsay’s design will hopefully spark conversations for those wearing the shirts, who may now be able to explain to curious-minded individuals how womanism differs from feminism, as well as the critical work being done by womanists today.

Renee has obviously written quite extensively on womanism, as well as explaining why white feminists should never self-identify as either womanist or pro-womanist. Although there has been controversy within some feminist communities around the distribution of “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirts, I think this stencil brings positive recognition to the womanist movement without the designer attempting to reclaim womanism for white feminists.  Providing Alice Walker’s name beneath the image allows the statement to be credited to Walker rather than to the wearer of the t-shirt. 

Her company is dedicated to promoting green-living, so she uses recycled t-shirts from overstock at thrift stores.   “No need to buy new clothes when there are so many used ones out there that need a home,” she writes.  “Being environmentally friendly and sweatshop free is important to me!”  Likewise, her packing materials and hanging tags are also made from recycled materials.  Like many DIY artists, Lindsay handles all aspects of her business from selecting the recycled t-shirts personally to designing the stencils and then advertising and shipping all of her orders. 

image Currently, the shop features 18 stencils of noted womanist/feminist activists and writers such as: Emma Goldman, Gloria Steinem & Dorothy Pitman Hughes, bell hooks, Simone de Beauvoir, Lucy Stone, Audre Lorde, Susan B Anthony, Angela Davis, Yuri Kochiyama, Victoria Woodhull, Gertrude Stein, Alice Paul, Frida Kahlo, Bella Abzug, Charlotte Brontë, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Gloria E. Anzaldua, and Alice Walker.

“I feel strongly about have stencils of women of color because I believe in diversity and combating racism, and all types of women have struggled for women's rights, not just white women, so of course, a variety of women should be represented,” says Lindsay.  “From what I've read, during second-wave feminism, [feminism] seemed like an exclusive group that was racist and classist; it almost seemed to define feminism as a movement for only upper-middle class white women, a movement that did not include ALL women, only some.  I was reading Ain't I a Woman?  by bell hooks and she spoke to the racism in the feminist movement and the sexism in the civil rights movement.  I tried to imagine what it was like to be a part of both movements but simultaneously feel excluded from both.”

Please check out KMStitchery for great womanist/feminist designs, environmentally sound clothing, and a chance to support an individual artist rather than a clothing corporation.