Metropolitan-area Photographers Spotlight Women’s Strength and Hudson County Dignitaries Honor Women who make a Difference
By Sally Deering
On March 8th, on a visit to my cell phone provider to pay my bill, the young man behind the counter handed me my receipt and said with a smile, “Happy Woman’s Day!” Not sure I was hearing correctly, I naturally replied, “Wha?” He repeated, “Happy Woman’s Day! You know, March being Women’s History Month, today is National Women’s Day.”
Feeling rather guilty for not remembering March is Women’s History Month, I began to think about all the great women I have admired. Then I realized, Women’s History Month is not just about thinking nice thoughts about Eleanor Roosevelt (whom I greatly admire); it’s about honoring women everywhere who are out there every day contributing to the fabric of our society.
The Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, which hosts 14 arts events a year in the Brennan Gallery at the William J. Brennan Court House in Jersey City, is presenting an exhibit to remind us of the importance of Women’s History Month. Meredith Lippman and Eileen Gaughan of the Cultural Affairs office curated an exhibit of 38 photographs for “In her Strength,” an exhibit by 24 photographers that illustrate women’s courage, energy, tenacity and fortitude. The photos shows women in reflection, with their families, marching for equality, rock climbing, boxing and participating in all sorts of activities. Each of the photos holds a special meaning to the artist which is evident in these candid photos of women in both private and public moments.
“The amazing qualities that women possess often go unnoticed,” Lippman says. “The photographers have captured images of women from around the globe and across ethnic and racial boundaries.”
Artists featured in the exhibit are Heidi Sussman, Gloria Bernard, Tamarra Mohapatra, Debbie Guedalia, Gwen Charles, Tamara Fitzpatrick, Sharon Harvey, Beatrice Mady, Monica Holder, Mildred Kerr, Noncy Ori, Melida Rodas, Kaitlyn Chow, Leona Seufert, India Blake, Roberta Smith, Heidi Sussman, Trang Tran, Kat Wolfe, Mary Pugh Clark, Faruz Ugdah, Lydia Frank, Roslyn Rose and Heather Kurdyla. Many of the artists are professionals and some are on their way, like Heather Kurdyla, 22, of Kearny, a photography major at New Jersey City University. Kurdyla’s images are photographs of photos of her great-grandmother Josephine Perna juxtaposed on things she once owned.
“I found some of her belongings and these old photos of her and I wanted to document her life through her belongings,” Kurdyla says. “She was born in 1911 and I thought about all the things she lived through. I was very close to her.”
For 20 years, Robyn Rose of Hoboken was a professional printmaker and used etchings in a lot of her work. She became more involved in photography, doing Polaroid transfers and then started working with Photoshop. Her photograph, “The Suffragettes,” incorporates vintage images of Suffragettes in a time in women’s history that has had a resounding affect on Rose as an artist.
“The Suffragette piece has some personal connection to me,” Rose says. “My sister lives in the Rochester area and we’ve gone to historical spots there where there were Suffragette meetings, protests and jailings. I’ve been an ardent feminist since the 70s.”
Debbie Guedalia’s two images in “In her Strength” include a photograph titled “The Bridge,” and “Letter to my Children.” Both works use photography to translate her personal psychological landscape, Guedalia says. “Letter to my Children’ is a visual diary of her trip to Poland in August 2010. It contains thirteen color triptychs (three images placed next to each other to create one image) taken over six days of traveling. The triptychs attempt to map out the present-past-present visual world that hides beneath the surface of the landscapes of Krakow, Warsaw, Lubin, Aushwitz-Birkenau, Madjanek, Plaszow and the Lepudowo forest in Poland, she says. They also represent three generations of her family photographed in the memories of those environments and time-frame.
“I created a narrative space that never actually happened, but that the camera has recorded,” Guedalia says. “The image ‘The Bridge’ was photographed in Krakow on the bridge that overlooks the Vistula River. All three images contain archival photographs: a sign in Krakow that reads: ‘Jews Forbidden Entry’; our guide holding up a book containing a picture of the bridge on which we were standing; and a third image of a girl on the bridge carrying a chair that must be a family heirloom during the evacuation of the Jews. I created these works in an attempt to understand what happened over sixty years ago; and yet, today I still find incomprehensible.”
Feminism abounds in the photographs featured in the “In her Strength” show, which runs through March 25th. Women photographers ranging in age from early 20s to early 90s are represented and the exhibit is a great way to introduce your budding feminists to women who have made a difference.
Our History is Our Strength
Once a year, Hudson County rolls out the red carpet to pay tribute to local women who make an amazing contribution to the quality of life here in Hudson. This year’s program is called “Our History is our Strength” and will spotlight local activists who are usually behind the scenes. It will be held on Tuesday, March 22 at 6:30 pm, in the Theodore Conrad Rotunda and is dedicated to the memory of the late Honorable Shirley Tolentino, JSC, who served on the bench in the Justice William Brennan Court House.
Twenty-five women will be honored for their community service, commitment to social activism and contribution to the quality-of life of all the people who make this side of the Hudson their home. They are: Bernice Lord, senior citizen activist; Cathy Macchi of the Hudson County Office on Aging; Maureen Walliser of Hudson County Enterprises; Rosalyn A. Browne, community activist; Monique Smith-Andrews, community activist for women cancer survivors; Dr. Ofelia Garcia, community activist; Alfa Demmeliash, Executive Director of Rising Tides Capital; and Joan Rosen for career service to the Bayonne Public Schools.
Also being honored are Bali Macchio of the Windmill Alliance; Christina Ellis, Educator, Holy Family Academy; Joyce Adams, health care activist; Netta Meltzer, community activist; Rose Gunther, community activist; Eleanor Mueller, activist for St. Joseph’s School for the Blind; Jeanette Peña, Union City Educator ; Catharina S. Wolf of the Wrap 4 A Smile foundation; Dr. Madeline Zak, community activist; Rose Marie Evaristo, community activist; Jaclyn Cherubini, Director of the Hoboken Shelter; Shirley M. Dennis, community activist; Rosemary McFadden, Jersey City Deputy Mayor; Carol Kravitz, artist and teacher; Jennifer Cullen, community activist; Elaine Nicoliello, community activist; and Elizabeth Irmia-Ferrer, West New York educator.
The program’s MC will be Freeholder Doreen McAndrew DiDomenico, who also chairs the Women’s History Month committee. The St. Dominick Academy Dominoes under the musical direction of Joseph Napoli will sing and special presentations will be given by Ana Tolentino, who will reflect on the influence her late mother had on her life and career; Alisa Reid, a student at P.S. No. 40 in Jersey City who will give a recitation on Sojourner Truth; and Dr. Carmela Karnoutsos, a retired Professor of History at New Jersey City University who will highlight the lives of local women leaders of the past.
“This is a way for us to honor the contribution women have made to the Hudson County community,” say Bill LaRosa, Director of Hudson County Cultural & Heritage Affairs. “Women are doing tremendous things here.”
The Brennan Gallery
Justice William Brennan Court House
583 Newark Avenue
Contacts: Eileen Gaughan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meredith Lippman: email@example.com