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Nationwide Art Project Is Making Space For Historic Women In All 50 States

Just before the presidential election in November 2016, Polish-American artist Olek revealed which candidate was getting her vote by hanging a massive portrait of Hillary Clinton over a New Jersey highway. Upon closer inspection, what initially appeared to be a billboard was actually ― in Olek’s signature style ― a 16-by-46-foot neon pink blanket, entirely crocheted by hand. 

Days later, Olek, like the rest of the world, learned that Clinton had lost the election and Donald Trump was to be president of the United States. “I immediately thought, I wish I had done more,” Olek told HuffPost in a phone call. “Then I thought: ‘Wait a second, I still can.’”

Olek, born Agata Oleksiak, moved to the United States from Poland in 2003 and describes herself as a “young American and an old Pole” accordingly. At 38 years old, she is known for her experimental yarn creations, which combine the art of crochet ― with its traditional connotations of domestic “women’s work” ― with the tactics of guerrilla street art.

Her most iconic creations, or “yarn bombs” as they’re often dubbed, include covering the Wall Street bull sculpture with pink and purple camouflage and crocheting a massive fictionalized edition of The New York Times. Olek’s current project is as much about the process of its creation as the final result. 

Titled “Love Across the USA,” the piece will consist of 50 portraits of women who changed American history, displayed throughout all 50 states. “I want to honor women who fought their entire lives to open the doors for women like me,” Olek said. “Women who still don’t have enough space in history books.”

The artist will travel from state to state until 2020, inviting local community members to help create each work. This community collaboration is where the real impact of Olek’s project takes place.

“We’re living in a time when people are stuck to their computers,” she said. “I want to get people out of their homes, out of their habits. Community is so important. I’m getting people together.”

Olek isn’t sure exactly which women she will honor throughout the series, although she mentioned Nina Simone, Sojourner Truth and Michelle Obama as some names on her list. She plans to honor women who are significant to each state, hopefully illuminating some lesser-known heroines who have not been sufficiently recognized on a national stage. 

An inkling of Olek’s idea for the project emerged on election day, when Olek noticed viral photos and videos of women attaching their “I Voted” stickers to Susan B. Anthony’s grave in Rochester, New York. “It made me think, in the year 2020, women will only have been able to vote in this country for 100 years,” Olek said. “I knew I had to start with Susan B. Anthony.” 

In March, coinciding with Women’s History Month, Olek made the trek to Rochester to begin the project. She reached out for volunteers on social media beforehand, inviting crochet masters and novices alike to join her in the process. Over 200 volunteers gathered at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, New York, where Olek held a crochet workshop for anyone interested in learning the basics.

Using donated materials from Red Heart Yarn, each participant constructed a two-by-two-foot square, following a pattern Olek distributed. The squares were then combined to yield a towering portrait of a feminist icon. 

Susan B. Anthony ended up being Olek’s second subject; the first, whose image was hung in early May, depicts abolitionist Harriet Tubman. “I couldn’t choose, I had to do both,” Olek said. Alongside Tubman’s face reads the quote: “Slavery is the next thing to hell,” written against a shocking pink backdrop. Anthony’s portrait, currently in the works, will be revealed later in the month.

“I could not choose between Harriet and Susan,” Olek told HuffPost, adding that she “broke her rule” by choosing two subjects. The artist hopes to create at least one portrait in all 50 states but clearly is not opposed to adapting her mission along the way. 

Olek described her experience working with local crocheters in Rochester as “incredibly powerful.” She described working with collaborators in their 70s, who had been crocheting since before Olek was born, who worked late nights that creeped into mornings. She described working with fathers and sons who had never crocheted before, yet were eager to learn and help. 

The project is open to men and women of all political views. While crocheting together for hours on end, Olek explained, the volunteers often communicate about the many challenges of living in 2017. “We talk about what it means to be a women, what it means to support women,” Olek said. “We talk about health care, family, education. People form new friendships.”

Beyond the physical existence of the works, it is the intimate experience of working with strangers that brings Olek the most pride. “Making pieces in my studio is not the same as going into the world,” she said. “I see the effect, how public art can change people. It’s not only about seeing the piece, but the impact the work has on the community.”

Although the project was triggered in part by the election, Olek doesn’t describe her piece as explicitly political. “I want to go to red states, I want to go everywhere,” she explained. “Often artists don’t go to the smaller places, those are often the places that need us. Those people are equally important to the democracy of this country.”

Eventually, Olek hopes to develop a computer program that can help individuals create their own crochet patterns. Then they too can pay homage to the women who inspire them, by printing patters and crocheting from there. 

When describing how she landed upon her title for the ambitious endeavor, “Love Across the USA,” Olek recalled her experience preparing for the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., this January and deciding which sign to take with her. “I had this older piece in my studio that said, ‘Love Always Wins. Haha Not Really,’” she said.

“But then I realized, the times we live in are really bad. I can’t be sarcastic anymore. I ripped the last line from my piece and took ‘Love Always Wins’ to the march at D.C. I think love is so powerful it can conquer anything.” 

Follow “Love Across the USA” on Facebook to keep updated with Olek’s work and volunteer in your hometown. You can also email LoveAcrossTheUSA@gmail.com to get involved. 

Welcome to Battleground, where art and activism meet.

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— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Nationwide Art Project Is Making Space For Historic Women In All 50 States

Just before the presidential election in November 2016, Polish-American artist Olek revealed which candidate was getting her vote by hanging a massive portrait of Hillary Clinton over a New Jersey highway. Upon closer inspection, what initially appeared to be a billboard was actually ― in Olek’s signature style ― a 16-by-46-foot neon pink blanket, entirely crocheted by hand. 

Days later, Olek, like the rest of the world, learned that Clinton had lost the election and Donald Trump was to be president of the United States. “I immediately thought, I wish I had done more,” Olek told HuffPost in a phone call. “Then I thought: ‘Wait a second, I still can.’”

Olek, born Agata Oleksiak, moved to the United States from Poland in 2003 and describes herself as a “young American and an old Pole” accordingly. At 38 years old, she is known for her experimental yarn creations, which combine the art of crochet ― with its traditional connotations of domestic “women’s work” ― with the tactics of guerrilla street art.

Her most iconic creations, or “yarn bombs” as they’re often dubbed, include covering the Wall Street bull sculpture with pink and purple camouflage and crocheting a massive fictionalized edition of The New York Times. Olek’s current project is as much about the process of its creation as the final result. 

Titled “Love Across the USA,” the piece will consist of 50 portraits of women who changed American history, displayed throughout all 50 states. “I want to honor women who fought their entire lives to open the doors for women like me,” Olek said. “Women who still don’t have enough space in history books.”

The artist will travel from state to state until 2020, inviting local community members to help create each work. This community collaboration is where the real impact of Olek’s project takes place.

“We’re living in a time when people are stuck to their computers,” she said. “I want to get people out of their homes, out of their habits. Community is so important. I’m getting people together.”

Olek isn’t sure exactly which women she will honor throughout the series, although she mentioned Nina Simone, Sojourner Truth and Michelle Obama as some names on her list. She plans to honor women who are significant to each state, hopefully illuminating some lesser-known heroines who have not been sufficiently recognized on a national stage. 

An inkling of Olek’s idea for the project emerged on election day, when Olek noticed viral photos and videos of women attaching their “I Voted” stickers to Susan B. Anthony’s grave in Rochester, New York. “It made me think, in the year 2020, women will only have been able to vote in this country for 100 years,” Olek said. “I knew I had to start with Susan B. Anthony.” 

In March, coinciding with Women’s History Month, Olek made the trek to Rochester to begin the project. She reached out for volunteers on social media beforehand, inviting crochet masters and novices alike to join her in the process. Over 200 volunteers gathered at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, New York, where Olek held a crochet workshop for anyone interested in learning the basics.

Using donated materials from Red Heart Yarn, each participant constructed a two-by-two-foot square, following a pattern Olek distributed. The squares were then combined to yield a towering portrait of a feminist icon. 

Susan B. Anthony ended up being Olek’s second subject; the first, whose image was hung in early May, depicts abolitionist Harriet Tubman. “I couldn’t choose, I had to do both,” Olek said. Alongside Tubman’s face reads the quote: “Slavery is the next thing to hell,” written against a shocking pink backdrop. Anthony’s portrait, currently in the works, will be revealed later in the month.

“I could not choose between Harriet and Susan,” Olek told HuffPost, adding that she “broke her rule” by choosing two subjects. The artist hopes to create at least one portrait in all 50 states but clearly is not opposed to adapting her mission along the way. 

Olek described her experience working with local crocheters in Rochester as “incredibly powerful.” She described working with collaborators in their 70s, who had been crocheting since before Olek was born, who worked late nights that creeped into mornings. She described working with fathers and sons who had never crocheted before, yet were eager to learn and help. 

The project is open to men and women of all political views. While crocheting together for hours on end, Olek explained, the volunteers often communicate about the many challenges of living in 2017. “We talk about what it means to be a women, what it means to support women,” Olek said. “We talk about health care, family, education. People form new friendships.”

Beyond the physical existence of the works, it is the intimate experience of working with strangers that brings Olek the most pride. “Making pieces in my studio is not the same as going into the world,” she said. “I see the effect, how public art can change people. It’s not only about seeing the piece, but the impact the work has on the community.”

Although the project was triggered in part by the election, Olek doesn’t describe her piece as explicitly political. “I want to go to red states, I want to go everywhere,” she explained. “Often artists don’t go to the smaller places, those are often the places that need us. Those people are equally important to the democracy of this country.”

Eventually, Olek hopes to develop a computer program that can help individuals create their own crochet patterns. Then they too can pay homage to the women who inspire them, by printing patters and crocheting from there. 

When describing how she landed upon her title for the ambitious endeavor, “Love Across the USA,” Olek recalled her experience preparing for the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., this January and deciding which sign to take with her. “I had this older piece in my studio that said, ‘Love Always Wins. Haha Not Really,’” she said.

“But then I realized, the times we live in are really bad. I can’t be sarcastic anymore. I ripped the last line from my piece and took ‘Love Always Wins’ to the march at D.C. I think love is so powerful it can conquer anything.” 

Follow “Love Across the USA” on Facebook to keep updated with Olek’s work and volunteer in your hometown. You can also email LoveAcrossTheUSA@gmail.com to get involved. 

Welcome to Battleground, where art and activism meet.

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— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Eva Longoria Got A Call From Her Mother After Recent Pregnancy Rumors

Another day, another female celebrity who’s forced to address pregnancy rumors. 
While on vacation in April, actress Eva Longoria was photographed by paparazzi on the beach. The images, for some reason, sparked rumors that the star w…

Eva Longoria Got A Call From Her Mother After Recent Pregnancy Rumors

Another day, another female celebrity who’s forced to address pregnancy rumors. 
While on vacation in April, actress Eva Longoria was photographed by paparazzi on the beach. The images, for some reason, sparked rumors that the star w…

Report: Donald Trump to Hang Portrait of Electoral College Landslide in White House

President Donald Trump is planning to hang a portrait of his electoral college win over Hillary Clinton in the White House, according to reports.

Democrat Urges Trump To Put Infrastructure Money Where His Mouth Is

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) says President Donald Trump and his administration ought to include direct federal spending in their forthcoming $1 trillion infrastructure plan, rather than rely on tax incentives he said would “enrich wealthy investors with tax giveaways.”

In a letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Wyden urged Trump to fulfill his campaign promises and go big on a plan to rebuild crumbling roads, bridges and waterways. Wyden, the ranking member of the influential Senate Finance Committee, argued that financing infrastructure projects with private investment won’t adequately address the problem.

“I am no opponent of private investment in infrastructure ― with proper oversight on the right kinds of projects, private sector expertise can help accelerate the delivery of high quality public infrastructure,” Wyden said. “But [public-private partnerships] are not a magical solution to a massive, long-running problem ― especially if they are only used to shift costs by levying tolls.” 

Trump said this month his plan is “largely completed” and could be introduced in weeks. It is expected to include only $200 billion in public spending, with the rest of the $1 trillion plan consisting of private tax incentives.

Some states and cities have used public-private partnerships to fund highways and other infrastructure projects. But they have not always delivered.

Last week, the Texas House of Representatives, concerned about new highway tolls, voted down a bill that would have allowed public-private funding for 18 highway projects worth over $30 billion. But top Trump administration officials, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, have spoken favorably of using public-private partnerships for the president’s plan.

Senate Democrats in January introduced their own $1 trillion plan to address the nation’s rapidly aging infrastructure system. It includes mostly direct federal spending, to be paid by closing unspecified tax loopholes.

On Thursday, a coalition of 50 conservative groups ― including Club for Growth, Heritage Action, and Americans for Tax Reform ― issued their own demands for Trump’s infrastructure plan. According to The Hill, the groups emphasized “fiscal responsibility,” empowering states and reforming existing spending, rather than creating new revenue streams to fund infrastructure projects.

In his letter to Mnuchin, however, Wyden argued against such demands.

“Privatization will not solve our infrastructure problems,” he said. “Gutting federal grant programs will not solve our infrastructure problems. America doesn’t need gimmicks, it needs solutions.”

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Democrat Urges Trump To Put Infrastructure Money Where His Mouth Is

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) says President Donald Trump and his administration ought to include direct federal spending in their forthcoming $1 trillion infrastructure plan, rather than rely on tax incentives he said would “enrich wealthy investors with tax giveaways.”

In a letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Wyden urged Trump to fulfill his campaign promises and go big on a plan to rebuild crumbling roads, bridges and waterways. Wyden, the ranking member of the influential Senate Finance Committee, argued that financing infrastructure projects with private investment won’t adequately address the problem.

“I am no opponent of private investment in infrastructure ― with proper oversight on the right kinds of projects, private sector expertise can help accelerate the delivery of high quality public infrastructure,” Wyden said. “But [public-private partnerships] are not a magical solution to a massive, long-running problem ― especially if they are only used to shift costs by levying tolls.” 

Trump said this month his plan is “largely completed” and could be introduced in weeks. It is expected to include only $200 billion in public spending, with the rest of the $1 trillion plan consisting of private tax incentives.

Some states and cities have used public-private partnerships to fund highways and other infrastructure projects. But they have not always delivered.

Last week, the Texas House of Representatives, concerned about new highway tolls, voted down a bill that would have allowed public-private funding for 18 highway projects worth over $30 billion. But top Trump administration officials, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, have spoken favorably of using public-private partnerships for the president’s plan.

Senate Democrats in January introduced their own $1 trillion plan to address the nation’s rapidly aging infrastructure system. It includes mostly direct federal spending, to be paid by closing unspecified tax loopholes.

On Thursday, a coalition of 50 conservative groups ― including Club for Growth, Heritage Action, and Americans for Tax Reform ― issued their own demands for Trump’s infrastructure plan. According to The Hill, the groups emphasized “fiscal responsibility,” empowering states and reforming existing spending, rather than creating new revenue streams to fund infrastructure projects.

In his letter to Mnuchin, however, Wyden argued against such demands.

“Privatization will not solve our infrastructure problems,” he said. “Gutting federal grant programs will not solve our infrastructure problems. America doesn’t need gimmicks, it needs solutions.”

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Amazon to Shelter Homeless in Seattle HQ

Amazon announced on Wednesday that it would build a homeless shelter inside of their Seattle HQ, donating nearly 50,000 square feet to the project.

The US Is Right to Insist on Lower UN Peacekeeping Dues

A consistent theme from the earliest days of the Trump administration was the intent to lower the amount that America pays for United Nations peacekeeping…. Read More

The post The US Is Right to Insist on Lower UN Peacekeeping Dues appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Donald Trump Gets A Different Dessert Than His Guests, And It’s So On Brand

Donald Trump is the guy who gets two scoops of ice cream while serving you only one. 

When reporters from Time sat down to dine with the president at the White House this week, they found Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were served slightly different desserts than they were, among other mealtime discrepancies: 

The waiters know well Trump’s personal preferences. As he settles down, they bring him a Diet Coke, while the rest of us are served water, with the Vice President sitting at one end of the table. With the salad course, Trump is served what appears to be Thousand Island dressing instead of the creamy vinaigrette for his guests. When the chicken arrives, he is the only one given an extra dish of sauce. At the dessert course, he gets two scoops of vanilla ice cream with his chocolate cream pie, instead of the single scoop for everyone else. The tastes of Pence are also tended to. Instead of the pie, he gets a fruit plate.

The change is so on brand: Trump’s is the bigliest dessert by far, though perhaps not as beautiful as chocolate cake with a side of missile strike

“The president likes to use the powers of pageantry to achieve his aims,” Time reporter Zeke Miller observed after the visit, which included a tour of private spaces in the White House. 

We wouldn’t be surprised if this applies to dessert, too. 

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.