When I was approached to do The Awakenings Project in December 2016, I legit thought it was a one time thing. I thought it was artistic one-time thing that I would be involved with to tell my kids about. The artist was a friend of mine, and I loved photograph, so I said yes.
And as of this posting, The Awakenings Project has expanded to three cities, and completed two artist-subject photography cycles with over a 150 participants. From the creative spark of the artist, Marissa Southards, an entire populace of women have come together for one purpose: strength and identification.
A friend of mine that has sat for this project in its first cycle (A1 or Awakenings 1) described this populace as a ‘tribe of warrior women.’ These women that decided to define themselves in the face of the labels that societies heap on us…and even those that we heap and give to ourselves or other people.
The glorious thing about The Awakenings Project, is the diversity. It’s diverse not in the cheeky, corporate shoving of diversity. But diversity as in the differences seen and unseen. Every woman involved has a story. No two stories are alike. The racial makeups and socioeconomic backgrounds of the women involved.
The fact that she as that woman, I as that woman, we as women, get to choose which word that is? Monumental.
It is this organic community that is being built and sustained by literally blog posts, social media shares, and the audacity of the photographer with her keen eye, and clear lenses. Her boldness has encouraged us to be bold. With that, of each woman, with each word, we forge and have forged this community, this place where we can affirm the magic in one another.
In this American society, there are still places where affirmation is contingent on size and color, the community acknowledges those differences and celebrates them. One of the goals of any community to acknowledge differences, not glaze over them or whitewash them away–that cheapens the value of diversity. That cannot be so, will not be so in any sustainable community.
Within this community, we have crafted a single voice out of a choir of them. We have made music where there was tears. The project aims to uplift, affirm and edify all that we as women embody: the dynamic nature of women shown as a dictionary on the female form. The artist calls is ‘body as canvas’. How awesome is that?
I’ve sat for this project twice now, with my words being #Oracle for A1 and #Ambition for *A2. From those 2 cycles, what I have seen form is what I believe God sees when He plants trees, seeing the need at the beginning of anything. There must be space, ground and time. But above all, there must be a cultivated environment.
The Awakenings Project has done that. It has provided space to be ourselves even for that moment, declaring what our truth is.
It has been ground that we may settle our feet in unafraid, as our warrior mothers, Amazons, pioneer mothers, and past-life Queens have.
It has given us as those whom participate, record, and support to see what roots look like when they are protected and sustained in order to grow in purpose, unaffected by those that think the three should be a shrub.
Nothing encompasses my feeling watching this form than the new inner circle mantra, actually written by me, and accepted by the collective. That is:
I AM SHE.
SHE ARE WE.
Space, ground and time–all you need to be Awakened. We are all connected.
*A2 is the second cycle of The Awakenings Project, which wrapped in August 2017. A3 is to be announced. If you would like more information on the project please see http://www.southardsartstudio.com or The Awakenings Project on WordPress and Facebook. Thank you.