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Women on the Rise in Miami

Posted on Wednesday, April 24th, 2013.

In early February, Door-to-Door escaped winter in New York City and went to record interviews with the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, Florida. The museum was a 2012 recipient of a national medal from the Institute for Museum and Library Services. Through the interviews, we got a look at the many wonderful aspects of the museum’s programming. From artists to volunteers; educators to musicians; and students to curators, we heard about how MOCA has worked to make contemporary art accessible for people across Miami.

On our last morning, Jill Hernandez and Anya Wallace, good friends and coworkers, came in to talk about their role in Women on the Rise. As a young woman and art student, Jill had become passionate about feminist art, at one point making a film about the experiences of women in Miami. After graduating from college, she went to work at MOCA. One morning, Jill heard a story on the radio about an increase in the number of young women being detained in juvenile justice centers, and decided that she wanted to start doing programming at some of those centers.

As Jill began going to the detention centers, she was nervous, because she didn’t have a clear-cut plan or agenda. However, “things just happened” as she started to meet the young women there and talk about the artists whose work she would present to them. Their reactions, she says, were the best part, as the girls were bringing a wide range of experiences to their readings of the images. She remembers that the conversations they had “not only showed me what the art could teach the girls, but how the girls challenged what the work is, or what I think about what the work is.” The second year of the program, they received a grant from the Women’s Fund Network, and it began to take off.

Jill Hernandez and Anya Wallace

Jill Hernandez and Anya Wallace

Jill and Anya met later, at a Women’s Studies conference, and found instant friendship. Anya had been working with young women in Savannah, Georgia, and remembered feeling that their meeting was serendipitous. Anya was also surprised by finding someone who shared her feminist perspective “not just on working with girls, but how we connect with them.” Shortly after meeting, Jill offered Anya a position at Women on the Rise. When they began to talk about their favorite memories from their work at the program, it turned out they shared quite a few. Reflecting on their work, Jill said, “I know it feels good to write something. I know it feels good to make something. I want to give girls a space and a reason to do that.”

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