With just two hours and a short phrase containing the word “she” for inspiration, women around Corvallis combine words and images to form the She Project. The She Project, which began in 2005, is headed by local artist and educator Lauren Ohlgren. The Project is in its ninth year and is showing in the Corvallis-Benton County Library main meeting room for the month of June.
Here’s how it works: every woman who participates receives a short phrase by email the Friday before Mother’s Day. They have two hours on their honor to come up with a piece inspired by the phrase that fits in an 8×10 frame. The women turn in their responses the next day. Ohlgren gathers them for the June show.
“There’s such a rawness in the way women do them,” said Ohlgren. “They’re done so spontaneously. They’re very real.”
Spontaneity is key. “The whole idea was to get that immediate response to a grouping of words. I wanted to get their responses to the words before their brain kicks in.”
All the women are also working on their responses, if not together, at least at the same time, creating a universal, powerful urgency.
“The important thing was that everybody was doing this at the same time,” Ohlgren said.
The artist who turned me on to the She Project, Lill Ahrens, said that the Project was very important to her career. She hated what she did the first year but she turned it in anyway. When she later decided to try sculpture for the Project, she found her niche.
“This was my first mini-diorama and I was off and running on mini-diorama,” said Ahrens. “Every year I get new theme from Lauren which sparks a series of mini-diorama.”
Over 120 women, artists and writers, participated in the Project this year. In the nine years it’s been around, Ohlgren has delivered over 1000 phrases and gotten back 1000 responses.
After this year though, the Project will take a break for a couple years. Ohlgren said that both she and the Project need to regroup and reenergize. She considered stopping the Project all together.
“I realized it meant too much to people so we decided to keep doing it,” she said. “But it needed a break. I don’t want it to get watered down.”
Check out The She Project—before it goes on hiatus—at the main meeting room of the Corvallis-Benton County Library on Monroe and 6th. Call ahead to make sure there isn’t a meeting in the room though: (541) 766-6793. More pictures from past Projects are available on The She Project website www.sheproject.com/index.html. The library also has two copies of The She Project : how She inspired a community by Ohlgren. It’s a beautiful collection of stories and pictures from the first year of the project.
By Lana Jones