Virginia Woolf

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.” —Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf (1882-1928) was an English writer and journalist, widely considered one of the most distinguished writers of the 20th century. An early feminist, she attacked the double standards of the day in her writing, and her voice, still admired nearly a century later, is still strong. Her influential, stream of consciouness-styled work has been translated into fifty different languages. Some of her most famous books are: Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and Orlando. She was known also as a biting critic and journalist, widely respected in amongst the London literary circles of her day.

 

Diane Arbus

“The thing that’s important to know is that you never know. You are always sort of feeling your way.” —Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus (1923-1971) was an American photographer, who is best known for her  black-and-white portraits of marginalized people, often thought as bizarre or unattractive by mainstream society. Diane and her husband were a successful team in fashion photography before she branched out on her own, wandering around the city, photographing the interesting New Yorkers she found on the fringes. She went to great lengths to meet her subjects and get the shot thats that she wanted, and her hard work paid off. She became admired as an artist as well as a photographer as she exhibited her work at the Museum of Modern Art and others. Diane Arbus is considered the most important female photographer of her generation and her work remains as groundbreaking and beloved today as it was then.

 

Amelia Earhart

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control the procedure. The process is its own reward.”

—Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart Pilot (1897- 1939) was an American pilot who made several flight records, including being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. A fierce advocate for women, she helped form the The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female aviators. She also acted as a university aeronautical engineer advisor and acted as a career counsellor to female students.  Amelia’s bright life was cut short when she disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in her attempt to become the first woman pilot to circumnavigate the earth.

 

Dolores del Río

“Take care of your inner beauty, your spiritual beauty, and that will reflect in your face. We have the face we created over the years. Every bad deed, every bad fault will show on your face. God can give us beauty and genes can give us our features, but whether that beauty remains or changes is determined by our thoughts and deeds.”—Dolores del Río

Dolores del Río (1904 1983) was a Mexican actress, who became the first Latin American Hollywood star. Her starred in silent films as well as sound films, in which she worked hard to perfect her English.  As her Hollywood fame began to decline, she moved back to Mexico where she became an important fixture of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, which was now in full force. Throughout her long career, which also included radio, television, and theatre, she was admired internationally as a cinematic icon, the face of a Latina femme fetal. 

 

Nellie Bly

“I’ve always had the feeling that nothing is impossible if one applies a certain amount of energy in the right direction. If you want to do it, you can do it.”
― Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly (1864 – 1922) was an American journalist known for her investigative and undercover reporting. Though at first she found difficulty being hired as a female reporter, she took unusual risks to get the job. Nellie earned acclaim when she feigned insanity in order to expose the conditions of asylum patients at Blackwell’s Island in New York City. Her investigation resulted in several mental health care reforms. She continued her career as a stunt journalist, going undercover in various guises to expose corruption and injustice in jails, factories, and state legislature. Nellie achieved further fame after her newspaper sent her on a trip around the world in the fictional footsteps laid out in Jules Verne’s book, Around the World in Eighty Days. She did it in seventy-two, establishing a new world record. Nellie Bly was a spirited pioneer in her field, remembered most for launching a new kind of investigative journalism.

Pearl S. Buck

“The truth is always exciting. Speak it, then. Life is dull without it.”

—Pearl S. Buck

Pearl S. Buck (1892 – 1973) was an American writer and novelist.  The daughter of missionaries, she spent the first 40 years of her life in China so she was perfectly posed to describe the thus-hidden life of China to the west through her novel The Good Earth , which became was the best-selling fiction book in the United States in 1931 and 1932 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932. Later she became the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

After returning to the United States in 1935 as an immensely famous figure, she became an outspoken advocate for the rights of women and minority groups. Pearl also campaigned for the rights of Asian and mixed-race orphans, who were considered un-adoptable by existing adoption services. She established Welcome House, the first international inter-rational adoption agency and the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, which provides sponsorships for thousands of Asian children overseas.

 

Martha Graham

“We are all of us, unique – each a unique pattern of creativity and if we do not fulfill it, it is lost for all time.”— Martha Graham

Martha Graham (1894-1991) was an American modern dancer and choreographer. Her style, the Graham technique, reshaped American dance and is still taught worldwide. In 1926, she established her own dance company in New York City and developed an innovative, non-traditional technique that spoke to more taboo forms of movement and emotional expression. She danced well into her 70s and choreographed until her death in 1991, leaving the dance world forever changed.

 

 

Miné Okubo

“In the camps, I had the opportunity to study the human race from the cradle to the grave, and to see what happens to people when reduced to one status and one condition. Cameras and photographs were not permitted in the camps, so I recorded everything in sketches, drawings and paintings.” Miné Okubo 

 

Miné Okubo (1912-2001) was an American artist and writer. She is best known for her book Citizen 13660, a collection of 189 drawings and accompanying text chronicling her experiences in Japanese American internment camps during World War II. Still in print, it was the first book on the camp experience to be written by an internee. It remains a widely cited document in histories of the Japanese in America.

“I am a realist with a creative mind. I hope that things can be learned from this tragic episode, for I believe it could happen again.”

Coretta Scott King

“Struggle is a never ending process. freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.” —Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King (1927-2006) was an important Civil Rights activist and the wife/widow of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.  After his death, she continued to eloquently advocate for non-violence and equal rights for all people, regardless of race or gender. She has been called the First Lady of Civil Rights.

You can hear some of her own powerful words on this podcast.

Artist’s note:  After the emboldened white supremacist march and attack over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, I want to make a statement against racism. But Coretta’s words speak stronger than mine could. We can’t just rest on our laurels and think everything should be fine because others have fought the fight before us….It’s our generation’s responsibility to fight against hatred and bigotry too. Obviously, these things don’t just go away. 

Julia Morgan

“Never turn down a job because you think it’s too small; you don’t know where it can lead.” —Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan (1872-1957) America’s first truly independent female architect, left a legacy of over 700 buildings, many of which are now designated landmarks, in cities throughout California, as well as in Hawaii, Utah, and Illinois, her most famous being Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California.

But her works were not limited to lavish buildings. As well as designing for the wealthy, she worked with many different clients in her her varied career. She designed several centers for the YWCA as well as private clubs and churches. One of the hallmarks of her varied career is that she worked with many different clients, not just the wealthy. She was willing to work with moderate budgets , creating less expensive family homes with open areas and large windows to give the impression of more space, using indigenous materials (progressive for her day) and changing the scale of her designs to work with uneven topography. She tried to give a careful solution to all of her clients, whether they were wealthy or not. In her way, she became an equal in her field (to the men who were dominating it so far) by treating all her clients equally. And with that attitude, she was able to leave an unforgettable mark.

“My buildings will be my legacy… they will speak for me long after I’m gone.” —Julia Morgan