Recognizable across the world, Oprah Winfrey is a global media leader, philanthropist, producer, actress, author, and the world’s first black female billionaire. She has created an unparalleled connection with people around the world, making her one of the most respected and admired figures today.
Most loved as host of The Oprah Winfrey Show for over 25 years, Winfrey inspired people from all walks of life with her honest and emotional approach to entertainment, which she expanded into her television network, OWN, and O, The Oprah Magazine.
During a December 2002 visit with Nelson Mandela, Winfrey pledged to build a school in South Africa and has contributed more than $140 million toward providing education for academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. Graduates of the school have continued on to higher education both in South Africa and at colleges and universities around the world. Winfrey is also a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. In June of 2018, the museum opened “Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture,” an exhibit exploring Winfrey’s life and her talk show’s impact, and featuring artifacts from the set, costumes from her movies, and interactive interviews.
In 2013, Winfrey was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In 2018, she became the first African American woman to be honored with the Golden Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille Award.
Depicted in a fragrant peony, which is known in China as “the king of flowers” as well as a symbol of love, compassion, and prosperity, Winfrey stands proud within the petals as the undisputed queen of success in the face of adversity.
On August 26, Women’s Equality Day 2019, artists Gillie and Marc Schattner are bringing to life a dream, the move towards equal representation in women statues.
In a moment of deep self-reflection, they realized they had been contributing to the lack of women representation in their public art. However, the artists decided they could not sit back and let history repeat itself. Something has to change, and so with their new project, ‘Statues for Equality,’ they have self-funded ten new women statues.
Because of this project, New York is becoming the first city to change the dynamics considerably - as the ten women are launched the percentage of female statues in the city will jump from 3% to 9%. The project will launch at RXR Realty’s iconic Avenue of the Americas.
Joining the ten ‘Statues for Equality’ are portraits of each woman in a groundbreaking new show that expresses diversity and gender equality. Exhibiting alongside their permanent statue sisters at 61 Broadway, NYC, they will be on show for the public for 12 months.
The women are painted on fabric from around the world, just as they as women represent the diversity of womankind, as does the soft materials that embody strength. Each piece has its own texture, shape, and feel.
The women’s faces are depicted in black and white, where each line becomes part of the narrative of the portraits, revealing the fine attention to detail from the artists. However, their hair and clothes are full of color and patterns to challenge the ideals of how women should present themselves in society.
The use of fabric can take literal meaning, as well; even though the material is soft, beautiful, and used as a way to express individuality. Fabric is also a carrier: babies are held close to us in wraps of material; when we cannot hold everything, we us it to transport goods and objects; and it dresses us, for warmth and support.
The metaphor extends into the roles of women, and Gillie and Marc’s clever use of this medium reminds us again how important women are to our lives and the basis of society. Fabric is also another way to show our individuality.
Just as the ten women statues, made out of bronze and standing larger than life, can teach us something about diversity and gender equality, so will these fabric portraits showcase softer, tender moments of intimate and feminine representatives.
For the next 12 months, Gillie and Marc are aiming to paint 100 women, voted for by the public, who inspire greatness in our societies.
#womenforequality will become an extension of #statuesforequality – use the hashtag to vote for the most inspirational women you know, and take a photo with the paintings and statues to share Gillie and Marc’s message of equality.