Tag Archives: Women’s History Month

Artists challenge definitions of a ‘woman’s place’


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning

BY ANGELA MATUA

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning is presenting an exhibit featuring 10 female artists titled “In Situ: Women Artists in Place.”

Named after the Latin word for “in place,” the exhibit, featuring emerging and established artists who work and/or live in the tri-state area, engages notions of a “woman’s place.”

The artists grapple with this definition using a number of mediums including traditional oil-on-canvas paintings to found object installations.

Margaret Vendryes, the curator for the exhibit and a participant in New York’s art scene for more than 25 years, said she chose the theme of this exhibit to celebrate women’s history month. The exhibit questions the belief that women should occupy a gender-specific physical or psychological space.

“Many cultures, ours included, continue to believe that women have a particular ‘place’ where they belong,” said Vendryes. “Women artists challenge that by being individuals who create their own place and many are off that traditional grid that was once considered ‘right.’”

Vendryes was familiar with each artist’s work previously through her job as a fine arts professor at York College and her experience as an artist participating in group art shows.

Vendryes said these artists are role models and she hopes that the works displayed at the Miller Gallery, where the art is being showcased, inspires visitors.

“These women are contributors to the fabric of New York City and they are a credit to their profession and their gender,” Vendryes said. “I want visitors to be inspired and encouraged to aim high personally and professionally. They are role models and we can never have too many of their caliber.”

As the only professional fine arts exhibition space in the Jamaica community, Vendryes believes that the Miller Gallery should be used to “set a standard” and inspire other institutions to elevate their missions.

The exhibit will be on display until May 28 and people will have a chance to meet the artists on two separate occasions. The first session will take place on Friday, April 17, and the second session will take place on Friday, May 1.

For more information on the exhibit and the artists, visit jcal.org.

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Op-Ed: Empowering women


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER NILY ROZIC

Women’s History Month marks my third month as an assemblymember. It is a time to recognize the women who have come before to make this world a better place. While we have many great women to celebrate, we have more work ahead. At a time when polarization is defining many of today’s headlines, it is more important than ever to discuss how women’s voices alter the conversation. How can we work together to make our voices stronger? To borrow a phrase from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, how do we make sure that we are all getting off the sidelines? How do we make sure we are not waiting in a never-ending queue or that we are equal partners in the policy and decision making process?

We have made progress in the number of women holding elected office, but women remain severely underrepresented in our political institutions. Women still only make up 21 percent of the New York State Legislature and 18 percent of Congress, so it is clear that something is missing. That gap will be filled by the next generation of female leaders, and we must do what we can to encourage them to get involved.

Women are underrepresented not because we cannot raise the money or talk to voters, but because we are less likely to even run in the first place. On average, a woman is asked to run for office seven times before she decides to run. More role models like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are needed to show young women they can aim high. There have been shining examples of this locally, particularly Congressmember Grace Meng’s historic victory this past November — a huge victory for Queens women!

I ran for office to show young women that they can do it too — that women could wake up every day, look in the mirror and know they can run and win. Mothers, aunts, sisters and daughters are good for our government and our nation.

The fight for equality will not be won simply by having more female legislators. While New York has passed many laws to ensure women’s equality, we still have many steps to take. The Women’s Equality Act proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo will shine a light on many of the problems faced by New York women and take a big step forward on issues of pay equality and reproductive rights. The Women’s Equality Act is an effort that I will continue fighting for, as it is clear that women’s perspectives lead to better understanding, better conversation, and eventually better laws.

There are also many times when women’s issues, such as reproductive rights, are discussed without input from female legislators or a discussion of how women are actually impacted. This scenario played out in Congress as House Republicans attempted to restrict access to birth control under President Barack Obama’s health care reform. Hormonal contraceptives are only available for women, yet there was not one woman on the panel invited to discuss the impact of the legislation. Underrepresentation is not always that obvious, however. The imbalance of women in public office creates a lack of female voices at times they are most needed. The simple act of more women running for office will change this dynamic, and it is important that we encourage young women to run.

Women’s History Month is about empowerment, and nothing is more empowering than knowing that no office is off limits. Politics has long been a field in which women could not imagine themselves participating, and thankfully it is changing. As the youngest female legislator in the New York State Assembly, I see firsthand the contributions that women are making in government.

I also know that as long as we continue to do good work and advocate for common sense policy, young women will play a significant role in helping our communities prosper.

Assemblymember Nily Rozic was elected to the 25th Assembly District in November 2012, representing neighborhoods in northeast Queens, including Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Hillcrest, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens, Bayside and Douglaston.