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Archive for the ‘A Room of One’s Own’ Category

When I first learned, through one of Paula Maggios’s tweets, about the Virginia Woolf inspired art exhibit in Las Vegas, I shifted my calendar around so that I could visit the gallery as soon as possible. I then learned that two of my colleagues from the College of Southern Nevada are a part of the community of women whose work is on display at the Left of Center Art Gallery as part of the “A Room of One’s Own” All Women’s Art Exhibit, and so I went to the gallery immediately!

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The gallery provides a space for women artists to create, discuss, and display their art. This specific exhibit features both literary and visual art pieces. Some of the pieces directly reference Woolf, such as the piece “Freedom” by Yvette Mangual, which quotes “A Room of One’s Own”:

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“Freedom” by Yvette Mangual

Some pieces seemed to allude to Woolf’s misty, Modernist aesthetic, such as Elizabeth Blau-Ogilvie’s gorgeous piece, “Glacial Pour” which gave me visions of James’s, Cam’s and Mr. Ramsay’s final boat ride in To the Lighthouse:

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“Glacial Pour” by Elizabeth Blau-Ogilvie

Dr. Karen Laing and Professor Erica Vital-Lazare are two of the 26 women artists whose works are on display in the Woolf inspired exhibit. After an inspired visit to the gallery, I interviewed Karen and Erica to learn about the ways that Virginia Woolf has inspired them as artists, and to gather their views on being woman artists.

Karen Laing is an activist and artist who teaches English composition and literature at the College of Southern Nevada. My interview with Karen is featured below:

Karen, your poem, “Thanks Sharon” reflects on oppression and resistance. In what ways does your work speak to and for women?

Among my deepest desires for the contribution my work makes in the never-ending conversation about what it means to be human is the hope that women locate ourselves in the center of every discussion, armed with a voice as authentic and indispensable to the outcomes present and prophetic as it is sufficient to the challenges reality places before us. I hope my life and art unleash the initiative of the creator within us so that we create a world worthy of our best and healing of our worst.

Karen, in what ways has Virginia Woolf’s work influenced you? 

Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own inspired me to create spaces in which I could listen for and attend to my heart’s desires. It soon became apparent that for this to be more consistently and sustainably possible, I would need to encourage others to find and forge similar spaces and permissions of their own.

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“Future Primitive” on display at the Left of Center Gallery by artist Lolita Develay.

Erica Vital-Lazare teaches creative writing at the College of Southern Nevada where she is the editor-in-chief of the Red Rock Review literary journal. Our interview is located below:

Erica, you work as a Professor, artist, and editor within the Las Vegas community, so you have a unique view of women artists in Sin City. In what ways do you think that Woolf’s ideas in “A Room of One’s Own” connect to today’s women artists?

In 1929 when Woolf was asked to write about women who write, she raised the artful and sanctioned notables—the pluck of Jane Austen and the blunt-edged realism of George Eliot with the intent of taking the discussion further than those points of comfort to address the gap between woman-art and its creation and recognition. The gap she addresses is parity. The bridge she dares to construct deconstructs. In a time when women are chattel she makes public the keys to artistic freedom when she says a woman must have these things of her own: her own money and her own space within the canon. Agency. Nearly 90 years after Woolf penned “A Room of One’s Own”, women-artists build their own, even though sometimes it just might mean they must first burn down a few houses.

In what ways has Virginia Woolf’s work influenced your own writing?

Virginia Woolf’s fearlessness as a woman-artist in an era when capitulating and cowing under the weight of gender was so deeply embedded in the culture that furniture was specifically designed and appointed in the homes of finer society to catch our feinting and fainting-fragile selves is a wonder and an inspiration to me.  I know many women writers in many genres who think of her and the essay as they carve out space for themselves.

If you are in the Las Vegas area, I highly recommend making a trip to the Left of Center Gallery to enjoy some moving art, as well as to support women artists. The exhibit is free and will continue until March 31. Read more about the exhibit here.

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A Virginia Woolf Word Portrait arrived this morning. Created by Akron artist John Sokol, an admirer of Woolf and her writing, the portrait is entirely made up of Woolf’s words from A Room of One’s Own. Across her forehead: “But, you may say, we asked you to speak about women and fiction”. And so she did. Best. Christmas. Present. Ever. 

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Aaron Gell will edit the male-centered blog, Beta Male.

A recent article by Jia Tolentino on the feminist blog Jezebel.com titled, “Sheesh, There’s a Reason Women Are ‘Totally Crushing It’ at the Confessional Essay” channels Woolf several times as Tolentino analyzes the future existence of a “new pop-up blog at New York Magazine, a six-week project called Beta Male.”

This new “pop-up blog” will highlight men’s writing, (and presumably, celebrate “beta males”) with a particular interest in the male confessional essay.

The editor of the new blog, Aaron Gell, who is the executive director of Maxim.com, sent out a call for submissions which Leah Finnegan published at Genius.com. Gell calls for men to “demonstrate” that they too can be “introspective” like women writers:

Among the many areas in which women are just totally crushing it lately (sheesh, women!) is the confessional essay. We would like to demonstrate that men can be introspective and self-aware, too. So by all means, whatever you pitch me, try to include a personal essay idea or two. These can be about sex and relationships, family, work, friendships, race, art, beauty, obsession, the body, war, childhood celebrity crushes, parenthood, butt play and/or shoes.

Tolentino alludes to (and links to) Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own several times as she questions the “outlets available for men to confess things about their personal lives online” and the confessional nature of women’s writing. Tolentino writes:

And as we are now in a cultural moment where people are—thankfully—interested in learning about social structures and what life is like for people who have suffered greater hardships, we have, to mixed effect, progressed on the personal essay front from “A Room of One’s Own” into sort of “A Room of One’s Own, Wallpapered With Identity and the Particular Difficult Things It Brings.”

Do men need a new room of their own in which to write and publish?

Or is the whole world their room?

Read Tolentino’s full post here.

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By Emily K. Michael

Dear Mrs. Woolf, I hope you will not mind bending time to receive my letter. I have wanted to write to you since the day I closed A Room of One’s Own and realized that you could…

Source: Blackbird Habits: A Letter to Virginia Woolf | BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog

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In the closing lines of Mrs. Dalloway (1925), Virginia Woolf wrote these lines for Peter Walsh: “It is Clarissa, he said. For there she was.”Virginia Woolf in words

A variation on that theme popped into my head last Saturday when I attended a party at Pure Intentions, an organic wheat grass grower in Akron, Ohio. As I opened the door into the building, the first thing I saw was Woolf.

“Oh, it’s Virginia,” I said aloud, for on the wall facing the doorway was a large, unique and haunting portrait of Woolf with eyes that followed me wherever I went.

What made the heavy framed portrait even more mesmerizing was the fact that her features, facial contours, hair and clothing were all formed from the text of A Room of One’s Own (1929).

The portrait’s appropriate title, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, suggested so many weighty layers of meaning that my own head felt filled with a tumbling jumble of words and their various meanings.

Kathy Evans, owner and operator of the wheat grass business and its School of Energy, said someone gave her the portrait. She explained that she hung it above an overstuffed chair so that Woolf could look down on the intelligent folks who settled in for a good read.

I wished I had asked more questions about the Woolf portrait, but I thought I would be able to Google it and find one for myself. So far, no luck.

Perhaps I will have to go back to Pure Intentions for another look and more questions. For I just can’t get the Woolf face made of words out of my head.

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In celebration of Virginia Woolf’s birthday, Sarah Blake will perform A Room of One’sWaterstone's Own at Waterstone’s Piccadilly in London on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, at 7 p.m. Sadly, though, the event is sold out. But you can place your name on a waiting list by emailing cabinetsofcuriosity@talktalk.net.

The free performance will take the audience back to the 1928 lecture that forms the basis of the argument that “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write.”

Read an interview with Blake about adapting Woolf’s polemic for performance and an article in The New Statesmen about women’s ongoing fight for a place of their own.

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Did Virginia Woolf identify as a feminist? That was one of the questions I raised in a paper I presented at the 24th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, which will be included in the Selected Papers from the conference, published in May 2015.

So imagine my satisfaction when during a visit to my local library, I spotted Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (1929) smack in the middle of a section of feminist standards, sandwiched between Steinem and Ensler.

No surprise there. Room is a feminist classic mentioned daily in writing both personal and public. It also appears regularly on lists of books everyone must read and lists of books that have changed the world. It’s mentioned in stories about life-changing books. And it has inspired a women-centered foundation and provided the name for bookstores.

But I doubt Woolf had any inkling that would be the case 73 years after her death.

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Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” is the skinny white-spined volume tenth from the left.

 

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