Zenith

This is the final product: a scene from my 40 page screenplay.

Introduction

The Zenith Project is the final project at Freestyle Academy. It is supposed to be the sum of everything I’ve learned from film class. Most of my project will be spent writing a screenplay. I will film and edit one scene from the film. I really enjoy writing screenplays, so this will be fun for me. My screenplay is about a group of basic suburban PTA moms who decide to start a punk rock band. I thought of the idea during the senior narrative project, but I was already busy with my other project. Through this project, I will be taking risks by attempting to write a much longer screenplay. Right now I am envisioning that the final project will be between thirty or forty-five pages. I’ve never written a screenplay of this length before, so this will be something new. This project will show my film skills through my screenplay, the filming of the scene, and the edited scene.

Photos of Progress

Research Paper

I have completed the preliminary research paper which could lead into the rest of my Zenith project. I chose to write it on the topic of women in the arts. This essay still needs to be polished and I plan on fixing it over the rest of the semester. Right now, it is at around a B minus. I am not proud of this. It has a lot of issues, but I am required to include it as part of my Digital Media grade. With revisions, it will be improved. Here is the text, but please know that this is not the final version and it will definitely be improved:

Women in the Arts

If you are a woman, know a woman, or you are just interested in being a decent person, you know by now that women can do anything men can do. However, the work that women create is cast aside as unimportant, insignificant, or attributed to men. The works of women will be forgotten, unless people actively try to draw attention to these works. In this essay, I will answer the question: What are efforts to celebrate and educate others  on art created by women, and how much progress has really been made? While work has been done to bring the works of female writers, musicians, and artists to the spotlight, more work needs to be done to highlight their work. Efforts to highlight their work will provide a deeper understanding of the arts, inspire younger girls to create new work of their own, and will give female artists respect for their work.

Everyone knows at least one female artist. Frida Kahlo’s works have found their way onto tee shirts, backpacks, and even socks. Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings are displayed in prominent museums. While these women are regarded as successful and talented artists, other female artists are less well-known and less respected. Groups all over the world are working to bring female artists to the spotlight and giving them the respect they deserve. Fifty-five women from Chicago met in 1973, with the goal of founding Artemisia. Artemisia is a feminist art collective, named after Artemisia Gentileschi, a 17th century Italian painter who specialized in paintings of powerful women. They created a space where women could teach each other about art without being ignored or belittled. Members of Artemisia appreciated the welcoming environment and appreciated the accepting atmosphere. Thus, the women in Artemisia were motivated to create more art. While there were still disagreements and controversies within the group, Artemisia encouraged Chicago-based female artists to create new work and respect each others’ work. Their organization received attention, and they were able to educate others on the previously unknown female artists in their community.

While Artemisia worked with artists themselves, educators are trying to figure out how to incorporate art by women into their classrooms. While working at CSU Fresno, Judy Chicago noticed that her female students weren’t participating as much as male students were. She decided to create a new arts curriculum for women: the Fresno Feminist Art Program. This program encouraged women to share their own experiences by sitting in a circle as a class. They would then discuss how those experiences related to art. Her classes would encourage critical thinking and a deeper analysis of the arts. As the women in her classes studied more art, they created more meaningful work. Chicago explains how as she developed her curriculum, her students began using their personal experiences to create art. Her students created works about racism, homophobia, body image, and their own experiences of sexual assault (Kennedy). It is evident from the results of Chicago’s class that when women in the arts are highlighted, they produce work that challenges our understanding and expands our perspectives, as well as inspires younger artists to create their own work.

According to a member of the protest art group “the Guerilla Girls,” “We are a bunch of anonymous women artists who started complaining about the art world in 1985, and we did it with posters on the streets of New York. We take the names of dead women artists to keep their memories alive” (“Guerrilla Girls, Going and Going”). The group has been changing since its birth in 1985, but several things have remained the same: the posters that criticize the exclusion of women and artists of color from the art world, and the trademark gorilla masks members of the group wear to keep their identities secret. The posters they’ve been making since 1985 are now hung in museums, but the Guerilla Girls are still fighting for inclusion and respect towards female artists. Their odd and attention-grabbing technique of wearing gorilla masks as they protest has drawn media attention to their group, as well as their message. As their work is now more renowned, it can reach a wider audience. More people can be educated about the exclusion of women and artists of color from the arts. The artists that create their posters, although remaining anonymous, receive praise and attention for the work they create. The Guerilla Girls are able to celebrate art by women and female artists who receive less recognition, as well as encouraging people to be more inclusive towards art by women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

There are many successful female authors who have received the recognition they deserved. Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Virginia Woolf, and Maya Angelou are just a few of a long list of women whose work is often part of English and Literature classes around the world. However, many female writers are still subject to sexism. Their work is often devalued or left out of school curriculums. Many groups are working to bring talented female authors out of the shadows and into the spotlight, and give authors the recognition they deserve. Persephone Books is one such group. In a basement in Clerkenwell in 1998, a group at women were hard at work. Their shared goal was to take out-of-print, lost, forgotten novels by women, and bring them to a wider audience. In 2001, they printed their  first bestseller: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson. This later became a successful film, which pushed Persephone Books into the spotlight. Still getting accustomed to their success and attention, Persephone Books moved to Bloomsbury, and has continued to print books (“About Us”). As they have reintroduced lost books to modern audiences, readers have been able to experience a wider variety of books by women that previously wouldn’t have been possible.

Persephone Books is just one of many institutions dedicated to advancing women in literature. Women’s libraries and bookstores are small in number, but gradually growing. Women’s libraries are located all over the world. The most notable example is the Women’s Library at the London School of Economics. This library contains records of the women’s suffrage movement, as well as the works of feminist writers. It also contains information about issues that affect women, such as human trafficking, workplace equality, world peace movements, and social equality. The library’s goal is to educate women about their history and increase public understanding for the contributions of women (Murphy). Bookstores are also working to promote female authors. The most famous feminist bookstore is Bluestockings in New York City. Bluestockings opened in 1999, and although it has faced changes due to financial distress, it remains a volunteer powered feminist bookstore to this day.  Bluestockings specifically declares itself as a space “that welcomes and empowers all people,” while condemning hatred:

We actively support movements that challenge hierarchy and all systems of oppression, including but not limited to patriarchy, heterosexism, the gender binary, white supremacy and classism, within society as well as our own movements. [….] Additionally, we offer educational programming that promotes centered, strategic, and visionary thinking, towards the realization of a society that is infinitely creative, truly democratic, equitable, ecological, and free. (“Our History”)

Their goal is to empower others, and they have successfully created a space where women and other marginalized people can share their writings. It is an environment where artists receive the respect they deserve.

In music as well as visual arts and literature, women are at a disadvantage. According to the book Women in the Arts: Eccentric Essays II, only 1-2% of pieces played by orchestras in the United States are composed by women. The largest music festival in the world, the Proms, had a woman conduct the last night of the festival for the first time in the festival’s 119 year run.Marin Alsop, the first woman to conduct, said “she was honored to be chosen, but that it was extraordinary that in 2013 there were still events that were ‘first times’ for women” (Women in the Arts: Eccentric Essays II). While Alsop’s achievement is amazing and is evidence of the progress women have made in music, there is still work that needs to be done.  I have played an instrument of some sort since I was four. I have played the harp for the last ten years, and have performed in orchestras for the last six years. From my own personal experience, every orchestra I have worked with has been directed by a man, while women have generally worked with smaller sections of the orchestra, such as only with the harps or violins.

In my current orchestra, most of the pieces we play have been composed by men. As of January 2019, we have had two concerts. At each concert, we perform between four and six songs. Soon Hee Newbold’s piece “Orion and the Scorpion’s Belt” was the only piece performed in the first semester that was composed by a woman. If we assume that the next semester follows the same pattern as in the first, my orchestra will have performed roughly eighteen pieces of music composed by men. Only two pieces composed by women are performed each year by the orchestra. If a student is in my orchestra for all four years of high school and if every year follows this pattern, the student would perform about 72 pieces of work that were composed by men, contrasted with the 8 pieces written by a female composer This is a generous estimate, as there have been certain years in which every piece performed has been composed by a man. Musicians should have the chance to perform works by men and women. This could deepen their understanding of music and expose them to a variety of new pieces. While I appreciate the works I’ve been able to play, there are lesser known pieces by women that we could perform which could become favorite pieces, or pieces that teach us how to become better performers.

Women aren’t only at a disadvantage in classical music. While many women achieve success in pop music, in music creation and production, men vastly outnumber women. Francesca Seni, a fellow student at Freestyle Academy, conducted research about the status of women in music last year. She discovered that male music producers outnumber female music producers 49 to one:

Infographic by Francesca Seni

As Seni’s research shows, women are underrepresented as compared to their male counterparts in the creation, performance, and education of music. Between 2012 and 2017, female performers were only responsible for twenty two percent of music on the Billboard Hot 100 list. Male undergraduate students at Julliard outnumber female undergraduate students (Seni). What this shows is that women are talented enough to be featured in these institutions. However, their work is ignored or devalued. At Julliard specifically, male faculty members outnumber female faculty members by more than ten percent. This can create an environment where women are talked over, and may feel intimidated. Female students and staff members may not feel as welcome. To remedy this, the school should hire more female staff members, as well as accept more female students.

While women in the arts are still subject to sexism, many groups are pushing for equality. The Guerilla Girls fight for women through art and outrageous actions that draw more attention to their cause. Persephone Books finds forgotten female authors and brings them to the spotlight again. However, these efforts are still ignored by some. A physical space to highlight the contributions to society from women throughout history could draw more attention to the amazing work women have created. The National Women’s History Museum has been working with elected officials to build a museum about the history of women’s rights and contributions to our culture from women (“Status of Legislation”). Currently, the museum is online only, and has over 300 biographies of notable women and 26 online exhibits. However, having a physical space to honor the contributions of women could show the importance of the museum’s mission. While an online museum is more accessible to many people, a physical museum could be a space to store more records, as well as educating visitors about history in a more engaging way. This space could also be used to highlight art by women. Part of the museum could be an art gallery, which could house the works of notable as well as lesser-known female artists. The museum could house exhibits to educate visitors on female writers, as well as holding important books by women and first edition copies of historical books. The lives of female composers could be studied in exhibits and in books people could read, and a space where concerts could be held could be used to perform works of music by women, performed by women, or conducted by women. The National Women’s History Museum could strengthen female creators, and could continue the progress that women have been making for centuries.

Works Cited:

“About Us.” Persephone Books, Persephone Books,

www.persephonebooks.co.uk/about-us. This is a primary source. This explains the mission and origin of Persephone Books, and is published by Persephone Books itself, so it is a primary source.

Gardner-Huggett, Joanna. “Artemisia challenges the elders: how a women

artists’ cooperative created a community for feminism and art made by women.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies, vol. 33, no. 2, 2012, p. 55+. Student Resources In Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A302595525/SUIC?u=los42754&sid=SUIC&xid=0e378d9f. Accessed 17 Dec. 2018. This article explains how Artemisia was founded, as well as the controversies it faced in its founding. It is fairly unbiased, but is still pro-women in the arts.

“Guerrilla Girls, Going and Going.” NYTimes.com Video Collection, 5 Aug. 2015.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CT425217069/OVIC?u=los42754&sid=OVIC&xid=52f3cb81. Accessed 17 Dec. 2018. This is a primary source, although the identity of the interviewees are kept anonymous. This is an interview with members of Guerilla Girls. It is a bit biased, as it shows a lot of support towards the Guerilla Girls’ mission.

Kennedy, Christopher. “Review: Institutional Time: A Critique of Studio Art Education by Judy Chicago.” Radical Teacher, Winter 2016, p. 78+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A450695074/OVIC?u=los42754&sid=OVIC&xid=2a9eadeb. Accessed 17 Dec. 2018. This is an explanation of Judy Chicago’s work and teaching methods. It is biased towards Judy Chicago, but it is from a reputable source (Opposing Viewpoints in Context.)

Murphy, Gillian. “The Women’s Library.” London School of Economics and Political Science, London School of Economics and Political Science, www.lse.ac.uk/Library/Collections/Collection-highlights/The-Womens-Library. This is the website for the Women’s Library at the London School of Economics. It is a primary source, as it is directly from the library.

Nunn, Pamela Gerrish. “Feminism art history and the high street.” MAKE: The Magazine of Women’s Art, Dec. 1997, p. 20+. Student Resources In Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A262882869/SUIC?u=los42754&sid=SUIC&xid=61e1ced0. Accessed 17 Dec. 2018. This is relatively biased towards feminist artists, as it is an article from a magazine for women artists.

“Our History.” BLUESTOCKINGS, 20 Aug. 2018,

bluestockings.com/about/history/. This is a primary source, as it is directly from the Bluestockings website.

Seni, Francesca. “Gender Diversity in the Music Industry,” 2018, Freestyle

Academy, Infographic in Jpeg. Francesca Seni is a fellow student at

Freestyle Academy. For her Explorations project last year, she

conducted research about the status of women in music. As her

research is raw data about the status of women in popular music

and in music education, it is a primary source.

“Status of Legislation.” National Women’s History Museum,

www.womenshistory.org/advocate/status-legislation. This is a secondary source as it is data about the status of legislation for the National Women’s History Museum, compiled by the National Women’s History Museum.

Rocksborough-Smith, Ian. “Margaret T.G. Burroughs and black public

history in Cold War Chicago.” The Black Scholar, vol. 41, no. 3, 2011, p. 26+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A301964252/OVIC?u=los42754&sid=OVIC&xid=c1a2cca9. Accessed 17 Dec. 2018. This is a secondary source explaining the life of Margaret TG Burroughs. It is relatively unbiased and is from a reputable source (Opposing Viewpoints in Context.)

Women in the Arts : Eccentric Essays II, edited by Barbara Harbach, and

Diane Touliatos-Miles, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/losaltos-ebooks/detail.action?docID=2076570. This is a book about women in the arts, so it is obviously biased towards having more women in the arts. Each essay is written by a different woman, who is qualified in the field she is writing about.