bell hooks entered my life when I was considering leaving Los Angeles and taking a break from acting. I had just guest-starred on the CBS network’s Judging Amy, in a role that was emotionally taxing and left me wondering what next? During my time on the show, which employed a fair amount of women at the time, placed in the presence of strong veteran women actresses. Many of whom spoke to me about seeing beyond my current role in the moment, but discovering what I wanted to represent in each moment of my life going forward. They saw something in me that caused me to stop and reevaluate my course. For the membership of the Women’s Caucus for Art, I’m sure the conversations surrounding what brought us here are similar–identity, representation, racism, and the genderless patriarchy. These are just a few of the intersecting ideologies that hooks both deconstructs and repudiates in her theories.
hook’s Remembered Rapture, a thoughtful book of essays on her life and writing practice, made it into my apartment one day and changed the trajectory of my life. It was her words from Ain’t I A Woman that resonated with me, and made me question how I wanted to show up in the world. hooks’ ideas and generosity with them, shone a light onto the deeply repressed memories of when I dared to be anything I wanted to be.
bell hooks’ words provided a light for our path, and the wisdom to recognize the societal gridlocks of oppression, especially found in images. Images that model for us a sense of place, that may or may not speak to us as women. However, in many ways the most profound insights she left of us with centered around radical love and controlling our own narrative.
If the pandemic has taught us nothing else, it has taught us about seizing the moment, and making an impact. This year the Women’s Caucus for Art is celebrating 50 years of women in the arts. The theme for this year’s conference is Occupy the Moment: Embracing Our History, Enhancing Our Impact. The work of establishing new narratives, while evoking our own liberation, exists outside of the conditions of the male gaze. This is a radical act of self-love.
The upcoming winter 2022 issue of Artlines explores many of hooks’ poweful intersectional themes that were made famous within her scholarship, while inviting feminist artists to utilize their collective power to form community. Especially, as conduits for intergenerational and global connectivity within the arts, and on social landscapes. Therefore, in honor of bell hooks’ legacy, and the WCAs mission of supporting women, I encourage you to make radical love part of your activism.