Humanitarian, scholar, educator, and author, Dr Tererai Trent is one of the world’s most internationally recognized voices for quality education and women’s empowerment. Distinguished as Oprah Winfrey’s “All-time favorite guest,” Trent is a prominent activist for equal rights to education whose contribution to this cause was born from her own fight against adversity.
Trent was born in Zimbabwe (formally Rhodesia) when poverty, war, and traditional women’s roles denied women the opportunity to attend school. She secretly taught herself to read, and later wrote her dreams, which included getting a bachelor’s degree, a master’s, and a PhD. She then sealed them in a tin can and buried them deep in the ground.
Despite marrying young and having three children by the time she was eighteen, Trent never lost sight of her dreams. Through hard work and belief in her dreams, she eventually earned multiple degrees and a prominent global platform with world leaders, international businesses and audiences where she advocates for universal access to quality education.
Trent has published two books, won the 2018 NAACP Award for Outstanding Literary Work, and improved education for over 6,000 children. A true inspiration, Trent’s motto is “Tinogona,” which means “It is achievable!”
Tall and glorious, Trent’s flower is a beautiful yet durable flame lily. An incredible climbing flower, flame lilies can reach a height of almost 10 feet. As well as being able to rise and thrive in all conditions, flame lilies are also the national flower of Trent’s home nation, Zimbabwe.
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.