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Dismantling the barricades for women in art


FROM ISADORA Duncan, Billie Holiday and Georgia O'Keeffe to Toni Morrison and Meryl Streep, there is a rich tradition of women in the arts. But female artists today still lack support, says Lauren Haywood, photographer and fiction writer and an Oakland Mills resident.

Haywood talks about "stumbling blocks" created by society and those created by female artists themselves. Sexism, racism, classism and what Haywood calls "internalized sexism" can hinder the progression of a female artist's career, she said.

For the past year, Haywood has been running a local support group for female artists as part of No Limits for Women in the Arts, a national network of female artists. On Sunday, she is sponsoring a daylong motivational workshop for female artists led by Marilyn Banner, a Bethesda-based installation artist.

"Everyone has their own specific blocks that keep them from calling the gallery or sending their work off to a magazine or whatever," said Haywood, who books performances for One World Coffeehouse at Owen Brown Interfaith Center. Some female artists, especially some older ones, she said, are hesitant about self-promotion and commitment to their work.

They limit themselves.

No Limits is designed to support female artists, art critics and art administrators by providing local arenas for the women to meet for two or three hours once or twice a month. During these meetings, they share their concerns and share their work.

Participants pay a fee, and sessions are run by trained group leaders, like Haywood, who have attended at least two national workshops. About 50 such groups exist.

Haywood started attending a No Limits group run by Banner in Bethesda more than three years ago. "It was really phenomenal," she said.

"Until I joined No Limits in 1997, I felt isolated, frustrated, and out of sync with my own creative process," Haywood has written.

In the 1980s, Haywood earned a bachelor's degree in photography from Maryland Institute, College of Art and began writing while there. After working as a photographer's assistant for a couple of years, she had a baby and soon become a stay-at-home mom. Photography fell by the wayside. She credits the sessions at No Limits with helping her get her career back on track.

Haywood's No Limits group is small: three women in addition to herself. The members range in age from their 40s to 60s. The group is open to members of all ages - even teen-agers. None of the groups usually grows larger than 10 members, so each woman has time to be heard, she says.

At Sunday's workshop, "we will hit the three major questions," Haywood said. "The three major questions are: 'What is your largest vision for yourself as an artist?' and 'What is your next step?' and 'Where does it get hard?'"

When she says "hard," she is talking about those stumbling blocks.

"We help guide people through their blocks," she said.

Sunday's Marilyn Banner workshop will be held from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Haywood's home, 9584 Basket Ring Road, Columbia.

The fee is on a sliding scale of $75 to $150 ($50 to $100 for full-time students). Participants are asked to bring a lunch, and dinner is included in the fee.

Information or registration: 410-964-0825.

Flea markets

Two east Columbia community associations are sponsoring flea markets Saturday. Long Reach community members will sell used children's items, including clothes, toys and furniture at their community association's Kids Clothes Swap from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The event will be held on the Long Reach Village Center parking lot on Tamar Drive. The rain date is Sept. 23. Attendance is free. There is a $15 fee to sell at the event, and participants must register by calling 410-730-8113.

Kings Contrivance Community Association is sponsoring a Community Flea Market from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday on the former Friendly's parking lot on Guilford Road at the entrance to the village center.

The event is free, and there is a $5 fee to sell. Vendor space must be reserved in advance at Amherst House, 7251 Eden Brook Drive in the village center.

Information: 410-381-9600.

Back to school

Jeffers Hill Elementary School is holding a back-to-school night with a PTA meeting and curriculum presentations from 6:45 p.m. to 8 p.m. today. Parents will have the opportunity to meet teachers, including four interns from the Johns Hopkins University. They are fourth-grade teacher interns Theresa Cole and Bonnie Whaley, third-grade intern Barbara Helm-Fox and Mary Zimbelman, who works with the fifth grade.

Jeffers Hill Elementary School is at 6000 Tamar Drive in Columbia.

Information: 410-313-6872.

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