Raising Up Womens’ Artistry, Uniting the West Village with Global Collaborators

By Hannah Reimann

One of the most striking silver linings of our pandemic time is the power of women taking on everything from essential city work, childcare, fatal and near-fatal illness, nurturing those suffering from racial injustice, providing domestic balance and the ability to create new artistic expression when it appeared all had been lost or, at very least, put on hold in 2020 and 2021. 

HEIDI RUSSELL AND AXR with a photograph by Maria Fernanda Hubeaut and a sculpture by Maria Dusamp at the Spring Forward exhibit. Photo credit: Linda Morales.

A vivid and memorable example of this power, Spring Forward, the March 2021 exhibit in Revelation Gallery at St. John’s in the Village, burst forth just as winter began to thaw, providing hope and promise. Featuring 50 international women artists who create in all media—painting, drawing, pastel, photography, sculpture, video installation, hand made Japanese manga masks and pottery—the exhibit has something for everyone to appreciate.

The brain—and lovechild—of curators, Heidi E. Russell and Arantxa X. Rodriguez (AXR), Spring Forward drew in-person crowds of 20 people every hour at its opening and closing nights, doors wide open for air circulation, everyone in masks as per COVID-19 protocols. On the walls hung images of BLM, a team of nurses walking triumphantly towards an eager camera, surreal and nude women in masks, the tender face of Breonna Taylor, abstract works reflecting strength, vulnerability, the release of pain, the re-emergence of camaraderie and connection. A large tongue perched on a pedestal. Some works are deeply personal, some hauntingly symbolic, some playful and provocative. The quality and presentation are excellent.

Russell founded International Women Artists Salon (IWAS) in 2008 to provide opportunities for women to do things they haven’t done before, to “change the system within the system,” promote events and service that create equal opportunity, equal pay, diversity and global connection via local, grass-roots collaboration. A fine art photographer living in the Village, she invited AXR to invite half of the artists, some of whom live or come from abroad. She also invited local Village artists, creating a broad demographic of women and widely varied work. AXR had similar dreams of elevating other artists while pushing her career forward by moving to New York in 2017. She brought on a designer from her native Mexico City, Mar Nieves, to create high-quality graphics for the show. This is a collaboration for which everyone worked quickly, industriously and to dazzling effect. WestView News’ own Dusty Berke put Russell in touch with St. John’s and the Spring Forward team organized its forces.

The virtual exhibit of these fifty pieces accompanied by a paragraph about each of the artists remains online for your viewing pleasure and can be found at the link below. 

There is also a beautiful video portrait of all 50 artists speaking about their work. 

In addition to the remarkable outpouring of love and enthusiasm for this exhibit, sales were made throughout the month, benefiting both St. John’s and the artists.


Online Exhibit: 

The artists represented in this exhibit are: Amada Cartoons, Amanda Smith, Andrea Young, Annie Yan, Araceli de la Parra, Asta Roth, Barbara Clark, Caitlin Lynch, Carla Maldonado, Caroline Villard, Collette Tompkins, Daria Zhest, Divine Williams, Dorothy Krakauer, Dulce Lamarca, Elaina Delehant, Elisa Salas, Eliza Boyer, Emily Toder, Eva Mueller, Evelin Stermitz, Francesca Dalla Benetta, Heidi Russell, Janet Restino, Jennie Yip, Jennifer Weber, LaTonia Shanee Allen, Laura Sala, Linda Morales, Lisa McCleary, Maria Elena Valdes, Maria Dusamp, Maria Fernanda Hubeaut, Maria Taveras, Marianna Peragallo, Michelle Girardello, Myra Kooy, Orly Benun, Oxana Kovalchuk, Paola Estrella, Rica Takashima, Sadia Fakih, Tina Kindermann, Vanessa Alvarez Diaz, Vera Tse, and Yanin Ruibal.

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