#CityDisneyStyle: Rock The Dots!

Disney Style, Style

dsc08653Happy National Polka Dot Day!  And say hello to the first #citydisneystyle post!🙌🏼  If you follow me on instagram, then you already know that this series is an idea I’ve been toying around with for the past month.  After getting all your great feedback, I’m finally pulling the trigger!

I hope that each month I can tell you more about how to put together a Disney Style outfit that suits your city life.  Instead of following one format, I’ve decided to focus on one topic each month. I’m planning to write up step by step guides, how to style one item multiple ways, and hopefully showing you how to easily transition at-home Disney loungewear clothes into a pulled-together errand outfit!🏃🏻‍♀️

This month, I decided to provide three tips on how to wear one of the most timeless prints around — Minnie polka dots!🔴⚪️⚫️🔴⚪️⚫️

dsc08665Tip 1: Choose interesting basics to pair with your dots.

I love a good pattern mix, but for easy city dressing, I usually pair a pattern or print back to interesting basics.  What do I mean by interesting basics?🤔 It sounds like such a contradiction, Alisa. Well, I’m talking about basic pieces with an unexpected point of interest.  Basics with an intriguing detail that makes them NOT so basic.

Notice in this outfit, that the points of interest in my black coat are the longer streamlined silhouette, slim collars, and distinct pocket details.  For my bag, the mixed metal buckle feels unexpected. And blue tinted aviators actually pick up on the blue in Donald’s hat. These kind of small details help to elevate your basics from literal “basic clothes” to stylish staples that stand the test of time.

dsc08659Tip 2: Mix different styles into your outfit.

Mixing different styles is something I often think about when putting together a #citydisneystyle outfit.  As much as I prefer to have a predictable life and schedule🙄, I try to go for an unexpected mix in my outfits.  And when it comes to styling Disney pieces, mixing fun and bright with more refined items easily transforms Disney clothes into city clothes.

Since I based this outfit on my flouncy Cath Kidston dot skirt, I decided to pair it with more structured items to get that nice mix of feminine and sleek.  Again, my black jacket instantly adds polish with its sharp silhouette and my earrings are minimalistic and streamlined. Both give a nice contrast to a flowy skirt and that contrast is what taps into that “je ne sais quoi” cool city girl mood.

dsc08697.jpgTip 3: Tuck it in!

It’s such a simple styling “hack,” but it has so much pay off.  For skirts or pants that sit at your waist, try to tuck in your top.  Not only does it help keep the shape of your outfit, but doing a French or half tuck will also help you channel that cool Parisian city vibe.  I mean, it’s called a French tuck for a reason!👩🏻‍🎨  Tucking your shirt in ever so slightly will instantly read as effortless and more polished.

Minnie dots are such a playful and timeless print to wear and I hope these three tips will help you wear them with confidence around the city!  Minnie may be girlie and sweet, but she’s also strong and independent. So to style an outfit that speaks to different sides of Minnie’s character was fun and meaningful for me.  And to share this outfit and these tips on National Polka Dot Day is just the icing on the cake!🎂

How do you like to wear your Minnie dots?  Let me know here or over on instagram!

Advertisements

These Paintings Are My Everything: Highlighting Women of Color & Female Empowerment at the Asian Art Museum

Musings, Spotlight, Style

asian art museum san francisco mithila painting feminismThe Asian Art Museum is devoted to connecting art to life.  And with their latest exhibit, Painting Is My Everything: Art from India’s Mithila Regionart and life collide to highlight the strength, power, vulnerability, and resilience of Mithila artists — who, of course, happen to be…MOSTLY WOMEN!  As an exhibit that features women of color, I was ecstatic to partner with the Asian Art Museum to further accentuate the brilliant work and lives of these amazing artists.

3110-2018-0228431696152443144227This domestic art tradition, that has been passed down from mother to daughter for generations, was confined to the interior walls of the most intimate rooms in Mithila.  Word of these intricate murals spread beyond the region and during a severe drought in 1966, Pupul Jayakar, a director of the All India Handicrafts Board, saw an opportunity.    She arranged for women to learn how to paint on paper, enabling those women to sell their own work and gain economic independence — something many women from this region had never experienced.  Jayakar’s plan not only empowered village women, but ultimately sparked the economic resurgence of the region.  Moreover, the newfound artistic and financial success of these artists inherently breaks the boundaries of gender and caste norms.

On the other side of the world, we’ve seen a surge of female empowerment apparel in fast fashion.  Consumers can now physically show their support for gender equality every day while feeling cute and fashionable.💁🏻‍♀️  To emphasize the powerful and unique stories of these female Mithila artists and the subjects of their paintings, I’ve styled female empowerment pieces that coordinate with the exhibit’s colorful and feministically charged paintings.  From almighty deities, to the emotional life stories of the artists, Painting Is My Everything, showcases a myriad of female stories and perspectives that celebrate the resilience and strength of women.

Asian Art Museum Mithila painting feminism Target Vital Voices

Hindi deity Kali, is a fierce mother goddess and represents the force that controls time and divine wisdom that ends all illusion. She is the personification of creative and destructive powers of time and could be interpreted as a representation of women’s assertiveness and power.

One company that recently created feminist apparel in collaboration with Vital Voices is Target.  And in line with the collection’s raison d’etre, Vital Voices “supports fearless women leaders around the world to amplify their voices and increase their impact in their pursuit of economic empowerment, public and political leadership, and the protection of all human rights.”  Each design was created to celebrate the passion, strength, and undeniable power of women.

Asian Art Museum Mithila Painting Target Vital Voices

Artist Mahasundari Devi depicts children painting on sheets of paper instead of on walls, suggesting the shift to personable salable art.

Aside from the power of economic independence, Mithila artists also found power in using painting as a means for personal storytelling and reflection. The artist’s personal perspectives and life experiences often serve as the subjects for their work, which allows their stories to be heard and validated. Through painting, their voices became important narratives rather than being easily dismissed.
Asian Art Museum Mithila Painting Shanilee Kumari Target Vital Voices

Shalinee Kumari pays tribute to the “great goddess” Devi and celebrates women through her use of composition and symbolism.  Here, Devi is shown holding various objects, which are usually associated with other deities. Wielding these various objects conveys Devi’s immense and numerous powers and is position as a mighty goddess that embodies the power of women.

One artist whose paintings are greatly influenced by personal perspective is Shalinee Kumari.  Originally studying geography, Kumari decided to start painting after discovering colorful Madhubani paintings. When she headed to women’s college, she heard about the Mithila Art Institute and applied to be admitted into the program. She is now one of the young female artists who is pushing the boundaries of Mithila painting by using the centuries-old style for personal self-expression.  Her work often focuses on global, personal, and community topics such as climate change, terrorism, and gender equality.

In Daughters are for Others, Kumari comments on social roles of Indian women as daughters, wives, and daughters-in-law. The painting’s title evokes the perspective of the girl’s parents and hints at the emotions of loss and resignation. The tight arrangement of the yellow and orange footprints, which reference the Hindu marriage rite of circumambulation of the sacred fire, feels like an impenetrable wall and creates a domestic space. Confined inside the space are two women whose conjoined form recall images of powerful goddesses. Though the true meaning may not be entirely known, Kumari cleverly combines decorative qualities and serious content to create a tension that makes this painting impactful.

Asian Art Museum Mithila Painting

Devi makes use of a style that was traditionally employed only by members of her caste. It is distinctive for its linear bands filled with dots and for its paper that is coated with an auspicious cow dung wash that recalls a mud wall.

One of the most educated and continually innovative artists among the lower-caste Dusadh community (aka “untouchables”), is Shanti Devi.  Many of her works depict everyday subjects, but she beautifully injects them with new meaning.  In Pregnant Cow, Devi surrounds the cow with blooming flowers, sprouting buds, and multiple bees to convey nature’s bounty and fertility.  In her intention to depict a common subject, Devi has instead instilled powerful meaning into it.

Asian Art Museum Mithila Painting Phenomenal Woman Target Vital Voices

In 1976, Devi traveled to Washington DC to participate in the Smithsonian’s annual Festival of American Folklife.  She subsequently created several paintings that document her experiences through personalizing and transforming iconic monuments such as the Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, and Arlington National Cemetery.

Sita Devi is perhaps one of the most phenomenal women amongst Mithila artists.  She was one of the earliest village artists to paint on paper and her work immediately attracted attention in the 60s. Her paintings received government and private commissions, won national awards, and warranted solo exhibitions.  All of which brought wide-spread attention to Mithila paintings and paved the way for other Mithila artists.  Over the course of her life, she worked tirelessly to develop and uplift her village and community through education and economic empowerment.  She paved the way for many, if not all, the amazing artists featured in this exhibit.

Asian Art Museum Mithila painting female empowerment

Reflective of Bihar’s electoral landscape, female supporters are shown at the bottom of the painting.  In recent elections, women have turned out the vote and are thereby influencing policy changes in the state.  In this painting, Devi shows the powerful influence of the female vote in India.

Dulari Devi is another artist that lived in extreme poverty until she became an accomplished painter.  She worked menial jobs, but her unhappiness with her life began to change when she started to visualize everyday occurrences as paintings.  And with a with a stroke of good fortune, Devi began working in the house of a Mithila artist who would host artist trainings.  Fascinated by the paintings, Devi eventually asked if she too could be trained to paint and thus was the beginning of her new life.  And when strong women unite, the possibilities are extraordinary and endless.

Asian Art Museum Mithila Painting

Baccha Dai Devi’s The Hindi deity Shiva in half-male, half female form, Ardhanarishvara is the combined form of Shiva and Parvati. The right half shows Shiva in his male form and the left represents the female aspect, Parvati.  Ardhanarishvara represents the combination of masculine and female energies of the universe and the unity of opposites. And despite being opposites, the two are inseparable.

The sheer desire to create saleable paintings in and of itself is a powerful act of independence for many of these Mithila artists.  Many were living in extreme poverty and had little to no control over their own lives, so wanting to produce art is a defiant act against strong gender and caste norms.  And whether Mithila artists are painting otherwordly deities or day-to-day life, painting has given them opportunity, choice, freedome; painting has given them everything.  And I felt so honored to help tell their stories and be inspired by their pieces.  It was everything. 😉

Painting Is My Everything will be on display at the Asian Art Museum through December 30, 2018.  For more information about the exhibit and upcoming exhibit events, visit AsianArt.org.

Asian Art Museum Shanilee Kumari

Artist Shalinee Kumari is second from the right wearing a yellow dress standing in front her painting, “Daughters Are For Others.”

Female empowerment shirts partially provided by:
Kidd Bell & Inkcourage

Photographed by:
Colleen Lem

 

Spotlight: Keiki Collection

Musings, Spotlight

IMG_2862

Earlier this month, I hopped over to Hawaii to spend some quality time (read: eating time) with my sister and mom.  Over the weekend, we decided to eat at Scratch Kitchen and Meatery.  Before talking about the Keiki Collection, you have to know something.  If you’re ever in the area, you HAVE to try at least one of  the “Pimp My Grits” dishes from Scratch Kitchen.  Just…ugh…so good.  A quick pic and then we’ll move on:IMG_2848

To walk off this amazing, but super heavy grits, we decided to shop around South Shore Market.  Picked up a copy of Alexa Chung’s It and a pair of delicate rose gold heart earrings, but the best pleasant surprise was running into a small pop-up shop from Keiki Collection.  Keiki Collection is a community of kids that learn how to sell their handmade goods.  But we should honestly call them mini #Girlbosses.💁🏿💁🏾💁🏽💁🏻💁🏼  Sidenote: There are young boys in the group too, but none were there that day.

IMG_2852I remember when I was younger, my mom and I would do the same thing.  We’d figure out what kind of crafts we could make to then sell at school holiday craft fairs.  I loved working away making tons of colorful lanyards and decorating hair claws with Christmas tinsel.  It was so fun to be creative and I felt so “official” when we sold them.  And we probably barely broke even each time because everything was pretty much under $5.  But I love that these girls are creating something that they’re proud of and then learning business skills to sell them.  Things you don’t necessarily learn in school these days.

IMG_2865I was most impressed by one girl that made large macrame hanging pot holders.  They were just so impeccably made!  I was so impressed that I ended up buying one even though I don’t really have a place to put it.😅  But it’s a small price to pay to support a young mini girlboss though, right?🤗

We tried our best to buy a little something from each person.  These girls are learning the basics of business and entrepreneurship and that’s just something we had to support.  And Hawaii in general has a pretty diverse population, but can we take a second to recognize that this was also an ethnically diverse group of girls!!  I mean, COME ON!  It’s just so amazing to see young girls of color learning to be entrepreneurs, creatives, and supportive of one another.  It warms my soouuull.💕

IMG_2863If you can, give Keiki Collection a follow on instagram.  They have occasional pop-ups like this one around the island.  Let them know what they’re doing is impressive and important — not only as a young female, but also as a person of color.

ABW