I AM A WOMAN WHO. A different kind of self portrait.

DECEMBER 10, 11 2016

I AM A WOMAN WHO uses portrait photography and confessional or free writing to explore the threads that connect women to other women in the world, no matter what their backgrounds or experiences.

The experience of I AM A WOMAN WHO inspires the release of raw, uncensored truths captured in the moment through stream-of-consciousness writing coupled with imagery that serves as both catalyst and canvas. Artist and educator Jill Valle says, “I see it as an opportunity for expression, empowerment, healing, celebration and universal connection in a fun, playful and visually compelling way.”

When Valle originally started doing this project, she wanted to uncover a visual and heart-centered way that explains what connects us as women, despite our differences. “There are so many commonalities,” she says. “I think women can look at their scrawled papers of affirmation and say, ‘These words aren’t just mine, they’re every woman’s.’”

Each approximately hour sitting includes free writing and time with Valle to talk through the introspections and discuss universal truths expressed by women. She then paints the final phrases with India ink and photographs each subject against their own words.

“The beauty of the process is that people try to plan out what to say, but it’s meant to be organic and in the moment,” explains Valle. “When they finally write, it ends up being full of contradictions — words that are powerful, celebratory, then full of hurt. That speaks to the nature of being human; we’re a whole host of contradictions and that’s OK.”

Poet and/the Bench in Mill Valley, CA, is hosting I AM A WOMAN WHO as part of a weekend event around BRCA and breast cancer support. “Whether you are a survivor, previvor, sister, mother, lover, daughter, friend, care-taker, we are excited to provide a platform for women in our community,” says proprietor and curator Bonnie Powers. “Jill explains that I AM A WOMAN WHO gives women a way to access and express their deepest truths while allowing for whatever emerges in the free writing process. We wanted to give women who have been impacted or touched by BRCA or breast cancer a chance to connect their experience with those of women globally. You’re not alone.”

Bonnie’s husband, Jeffrey Levin, proprietor and jeweler adds, “These are issues near to our hearts. Bonnie, two of her siblings and her father all carry the BRCA2 mutation. Bonnie had a prophylactic double mastectomy and oophorectomy 3 years ago and is a melanoma survivor. Bonnie’s sister is a two-time breast cancer survivor. It has always been our mission that Poet and/the Bench would be a way to connect to community and give back. This is one potent way.”
I AM A WOMAN WHO takes place December 10 and 11 at Poet and/the Bench in Mill Valley. If you are interested in booking an I AM A WOMAN WHO session, please click here. Sign ups will be in order of receipt of payment until slots fill. We will follow up with further details soonest regarding booking the day/time of the session.

We are embracing this extremely difficult subject matter to spread support and knowledge and strength in unity and community.
~ Bonnie & Jeffrey