I Slay: 11 Women Artists &
Writers To Get Us Into Formation

Sydney G. James, “Keeping it Together” Self Portrait, (House of Mirrors series); multi-media on decorative mirror; 18 x 24 inches.

Seriously, it’s 2016 y’all. Many women are tired of playing games. To be a rebel woman, in the simplest of terms, means to speak for herself, of and for her life, honestly. “Over the years I’ve trained myself to wipe the sorry off almost every work e-mail I write; otherwise each might begin, Sorry for the delay, Sorry for the confusion, Sorry for whatever,” says Maggie Nelson. The rebel woman gives no…unnecessary apologies. She has survived but is intent on living. There’s a difference between the two: the scamper and hustle of surviving is exhausting, even in the mundane. Simone de Beauvoir said of domestic work in The Second Sex, “Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.” Granted Beauvoir was of a generation (and of a certain class) where domesticity and traditional feminine roles were entrenched in one another; the subscription that we only need to do “just enough to make it” is tired. Rebel women are over the gender constructs, are tired of being tired. The following excerpted works speak to the nuance of the rebel woman, in their quietude and raucous; one who lives in her own memory, her body, who faces her darkness, with little to no pause.


Chitra Ganesh, “The Hook,” 2009; unique artist proof, silkscreen & mono print; 22 x 28 inches.

“Boys are just boys after all, but sometimes girls really seem to be the turn of a pale wrist, or the sudden jut of a hip, or a clutch of very dark hair falling across a freckled forehead. I’m not saying that’s what they really are. I’m just saying sometimes it seems that way, and that those details (a thigh mole, a full face flush, a scar the precise shape and size of a cashew nut) are so many hooks waiting to land you.”

Zadie Smith


Tamara Alves, “Find What You Love And Let It Kill You.”

From Meredith Talusan’s “When Home Is Between Different Countries and Genders”:

When I find myself or others silenced or overlooked, I’m tempted to keep quiet because I know that’s what’s expected of me. That’s when I consult the self of my past, who tells me: “If you were still a boy, you would not allow yourself to be quiet.” And so I find myself speaking.
On days when I feel pressure to present myself in conventionally feminine ways simply to be noticed, that young Filipino boy tells me: “You don’t have to dress for anyone other than yourself.”

Featured at Buzzfeed.


Shirin Neshat, Speechless, 1996; gelatin silver print and ink.

“Life was neither something you defended by hiding nor surrendered calmly on other people’s terms, but something you lived bravely, out in the open, and that if you had to lose it, you should lose it on your own terms.”

Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker


From Grey’s Anatomy.

From “When They Ask About Your Summer” by Safia Jama:

Tell them how you went to a wedding

Alone and that your whole family was there.

Tell them how the bride cried through the ceremony,

How she cried right through her silk gown

And that she washed the hall with her tears,

And tell them that she was the most honest bride

You have ever seen, ruining her makeup as sail boats

Lazed by in the harbor. When they ask about your work,

How it’s going, tell them a person needs to lie

Around a lot in order to remain sane. Tell them this,

And then ask them a question or two that will slip

Through the worm hole in their gut and poke

A pinky through to see if the answer is true.

Featured at The Safia Jama Experience.

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Ghada Amer, “Who killed Les demoiselles d’Avignon,” 2010; acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas; 72 x 64 inches.

“My mother shares her Borsht recipe” by Gala Mukomolova:

I tell her you’re visiting, she asks about the soup. A silence
passed down, a knotted up gold chain.

A secret: the place between my mother’s legs
                                             spun my hair as I descended.

Flour creased, child on her hip, she stood before a man she loved
said choose.

Can I show her the meal on my floor where you sit?
Pear juice dripping down your chin and puddling in my own mouth?

Imagine the smell of this kitchen: Beets, bay leaf, coriander,
                                                                                               broth. Slow cooked.

No mention of the room in me where you live, curled,
hunger like a dog at the door.

We made each other then we began to eat
from separate plates.

On the fridge, her borsht recipe: cut the cabbage beautifully

Featured at PANK Magazine.


Santigold, “Girls,” 2013.

“Long ago in China, knot-makers tied string into buttons and frogs, and rope into bell pulls. There was one knot so complicated that it blinded the knot-maker. Finally an emperor outlawed this cruel knot, and the nobles could not order it anymore. If I had lived in China, I would have been an outlaw knot-maker.”

Maxine Hong Kingston, The Warrior Woman

Except, All Of Us

“From Victorian literature to contemporary essays, poetry to pop culture TV shows, the following excerpts illustrate how the seeds for violence are planted, and the deep recesses where they take root.”

Queer As Verb

7 Trans & Non-Binary Artists Doing the Work
Trans Issue 2015