Meet Jax

Jax Smith and Edem K. Garro are co-curating the Open Floor “Weaving Through Life.” For more info, head to the event page on facebook or email us at wovenomaha@gmail.com.

Hi, my name is Jacquline Smith aka Jax and I am a bi-racial, heterosexual, cis-gender female from Nebraska. My twin sister and I were raised by my single, white, lesbian mother in a small white town (Beatrice/Lincoln) surrounded by white friends and white family members. I did not meet my black side of the family until I was 13yrs old. We moved to Omaha my freshman year where attended a predominately white high school (Burke). Today, the majority of people I interact with on a daily basis are white (with the exception of my job at the UNION).

I’ve chosen to emphasize whiteness, because it has shaped my perception of feminism. At a very young age, I learned that one’s race, sexual preference, and socioeconomic status, plays a significant role on how others view/treat an individual– THESE aspects of my being (non-white, poor, daughter of a lesbian) have always seemed to be more of a detriment to my existence than my gender. So when I speak about feminism, intersectionality is always at the heart of it.

I am a teacher, artist (stencil, paint, sketch), and community organizer. As an artist, my work mostly consists of the female form, both it’s beauty and complexity, as well as an exploration of my own multiplicity. As a teacher (Montessori Co-Op and the UNION), I encourage my students to use art to think freely, to learn about themselves, to engage each other, and to explore ideas about everyday life and experiences. As a community organizer (Nasty Women Collective) I co-create platforms by showcasing the work of local artists, in order to help raise awareness and funds for the issues we care about.

Within this past year, activism has become an important part of my life. I believe it is important to use your passions, talents, resources, and privileges to better the world we live in. For me, the Woven project has been a part of that. It is a way to bring people, from all walks of life, together; to interact with one another; to deconstruct and create something new. As a co-curator of the Woven project, the part I found the most enriching were the brainstorming sessions. The different perspectives of the co-curators helped broaden our sense of what intersectional feminism is and the importance of strengthening and shaping that foundation. Which in turn, has expanded the breadth of the project and what it could become. As a result of the discussions, I have chosen to focus on the importance of self-care.

Too often we feel the world pulling us in so many directions. We are just one click away from another horrific tragedy. We try and juggle the demands our daily lives, while struggling to maintain our relationships with loved ones, and endlessly fulfill commitments to a countless number of causes, rallies, marches, and charities. As each thread of our being is tugged upon, we begin to unravel. The fabric of our existence begins to weaken. This is why it is so important to take time to mend yourself. To make time for self-care.

Victoria: On fiber and feminism

I am a recent convert to the fiber arts. Even though UNL Womanhouse made a very large house out of fabric, I was still focused on the events and discussions and interactions as the “art,” rather than the form. This time around, I’m more susceptible to fibers’ lure of just being: while painting (my art learning) has to try and try and try for something that is both material and metaphorical, fiber is inherently both. It is art and craft, functional and philosophical, quiet and radical in its own unassuming world of makers and thinkers.

I could bring many parallels from fiber arts into feminism, but it is this being both that suits the particular endeavor of Woven so well. We all live in this world, we know what is happening: our feminisms need to stretch and take refuge, radicalize and normalize, be very, very bold, and very, very still. I want Woven to be a space for all of these conditions to be togethernot a place of comfort necessarily, but of non-judgement, of complicated non-binary existence. I truly believe it’s only when we lift the fear of doing/thinking/acting in the “wrong way” that we start to do things right. When our insecure egos stop pushing themselves forward to prove themselves, we can finally be present.

And this is where fiber arts meets feminism for me: in it’s unpretentious presence. It’s what I want my feminism to look like and how I want my activism to be ingrained in the daily. I crave a place to sit and learn and listen and work alongside hands and minds that put things together differently than I do. For me, that is the space where I can be challenged and accept the ongoing, personal work I need to do to change.

burned pages

Meet Camille

Hi! I’m Camille – I’m a white, cisgender lady from the Midwest with a love for art, reading and podcasts. My family is scattered across the cities of Minnesota, Texas, Illinois, Arizona and Iowa – and I see how these places affect my opinions and experiences. I am also influenced by my upbringing in Baptist, Evangelical and Nondenominational church communities, and my artwork draws upon all of these factors. You can read more about that on my personal website.

So, why am I in Omaha? Well, I attended graduate school in Lincoln, finished in 2014, and then moved to Omaha because I truly like living here. Omaha provides a lot of support for practicing artists, and there is an active community of creative people making cool projects happen all over the city.

Woven is a project that will be temporary, but I’m optimistic about its potential for long-term impact through storytelling and relationships. That was my experience in the preceding project, “UNL Womanhouse: The House That Feminism Built.” In the process of collaborating for UNL Womanhouse, new friendships were formed and bonds were strengthened, and the impact on me lasts to this day.

Before I engaged with feminist ideas and talked to to self-identifying feminists, I had a vague stereotype of angry, men-hating women in my head, but I also sensed individual empowerment that I wanted for myself. I listened to peers and mentors share how feminism applied to their everyday lives, heard their stories, and observed how feminism could inform school, family, and social responsibilities throughout the course of the project, which made the concepts more tangible. It gave me a sense of confidence that helped me creatively and personally.

The biggest takeaway: realizing that women enact misogynistic rules upon themselves and each other. Instead, it is important to push back against the larger social norms imposed on women by (mostly) white, cisgender males in power. I think these ideas are passed on both consciously and subconsciously, harming everyone. Becoming aware of these norms changed the way I move through the world. I stopped imposing those rules on others and myself.

At the same time, through dialogue and research, my perspective slowly broadened to see how feminism applies to issues of race, class, sexual orientation, education, religion, and on. These all influence one’s experience of the structures of power that are beyond any one person’s making, but directly impact every individual for better or worse. I believe that being aware of these structures informs how we can collectively, intentionally reshape them with many hands working towards equity. Awareness cannot come from one voice. Many voices from many corners of the city can highlight the ways in which space must be made for every person to thrive.