Happy International Women’s Day! To celebrate, I wanted to make a brief post about various art by women that inspire me.
“Your Best American Girl” (2016) by Mitski
This song is a jam, with rocking guitar crescendos and soulful vocals. But look deeper, and you’ll find a powerful story of reckoning with cross-cultural identity and self-acceptance in the midst of a cherished but ill-fated romance. Definitely one to blast from your speakers while thinking about how awesome women are.
Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962), directed by Agnes Varda
One of my all-time favorite films, Cleo from 5 to 7 proves French New Wave wasn’t just for boys. Following a beautiful pop singer in real-time as she awaits the results of a serious medical test, the film contemplates existence, death, and meaning through a feminist lens. I’m sure you’re thinking this sounds dreary. But, with beautiful camerawork of 1960s Paris, a playful spirit, and an ultimate journey of self-discovery, rejection of cultural ideals of women, and affirmation of life, Cleo from 5 to 7 is a can’t-miss film and landmark of film history. And it was all made by a woman, the prolific, inimitable Agnes Varda.
Passing (1929) by Nella Larsen
In a college English department, or at least in mine, nothing surpassed Modernism in terms of cool. But get those thoughts of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Eliot out of your head. No, no, we’re talking Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, and Nella Larsen. Larsen, in particular, blazed the trail as a Black feminist author coming out of the Harlem Renaissance. Her novel, Passing, has recently gotten the recognition it deserves as a classic of American literature. Psychological and personal, while still touching on larger cultural issues, the short novel follows Irene, a biracial woman identifying as Black, and her fraught relationship with a childhood friend who “passes” as white. Definitely read this novel before catching the film adaptation later this year. For more on art by Black women, check out my post on Black female filmmakers.
Journey (2012), produced/co-designed by Robin Hunicke
When someone says a video game can’t be art, point to Journey. This hour-long game follows a be-scarfed hero and their magical journey to a mountain top. Minimalist yet exquisite, Journey takes you on a timeless adventure through glittering sands, ancient ruins, and snowy peaks. Produced by Robin Hunicke, a professor of video game design and champion of indie games, Journey shows why we need more women in the game industry. For more feminist video games, click here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my picks! Share your own recommendations in the comments below.