Kimothy Joy has been struck by the way words have been weaponized within the past two years.
Earlier this month at the Dallas Museum of Art, the author, artist and activist, told the audience that her book, “That’s What She Said,” was inspired by the 2016 election. She hopes to empower women and young girls.
“The women in my book, since I have learned about them, have inspired me to show up and be bigger than I ever was before,” Joy said.
“[We were] impressed by the blend of artistry and wise words in the book featuring iconic women in a wide range of disciplines, ranging from historical figures to literary and visual artists, including Frida Kahlo and Yayoi Kusama, who are in the DMA’s collection,” said Carolyn Bess, director of Arts & Letters Live. “We feel Kimothy’s approach will resonate with our audience and the broader community and are excited to have her launch the fall season.”
After permitting herself to return to her art after years of chasing jobs, Joy found her calling in watercolor. She studied and painted about 100 different inspirational women throughout history. Fifty of these women and their inspirational quotes were later turned into this celebratory book.
In choosing her 50 inspirational women, Joy made sure each had three critical elements: a reference photo available, quotes that were validated, and stories that are somewhat documented. Listening to their biographies helped her feel connected to the women she is painting. The quotes were chosen based on what is most relevant in today’s society and their most significant cause and passion.
Many people, especially children, are not aware of how differently women have been treated in history. A mere 14% of figures in US History textbooks are women, often mentioned as sidekicks or in a domestic role. The perception of women for young children is very limited in the classroom; Joy aims to change this.
In the watercolor portraits, Joy can be freer and use broad brushstrokes, then later go in with a pen to add detail to the painting. She typically only uses three to four colors, so that the reader is not distracted from the inspirational quote. Each quote is surrounded in a traditional gold leaf pattern to show reverence and honor to the women. The portrait is painted head-on so that the reader is connected with the subject. In addition, she photographs the paintings, instead of scanning them. This makes the picture less flat, personal and vibrant than most scanned artwork.
SMU student Erin Robinson said Joy’s work has become an inspiration in the past year.
Kimothy Joy’s work caught my eye when I saw her art in the Woman’s March last year,” Robinson said. “Ever since then I’ve been following her growing movement of supporting women.”
Robinson characterized Joy’s new book as refreshing.
“It was cool to have the author share her story because of the passion in which she lives her life. Seeing her talk about her work would inspire the creativity in anyone,” Robison said.