EDITOR’S NOTE: Laundry Day workshops began in 2018 as a grassroots arts movement in Charlotte at the home of Andrea Downs. On August 3, a workshop was held at the Mint Museum Uptown. In the wake of that event, we asked founder Andrea to share her thoughts on how her work has evolved.
“Laundry Day Tip: Correct the voice in your head that says your story is not important to share.”
– @womenslaundry Instagram post in the fall of 2018
Eight months after I had started inviting women to participate in Airing Out the “Dirty” Laundry, I jotted this tip down on a scrap piece of paper from my glove compartment and posted it on social media one evening before a Laundry Day. Looking back on it now, this tip might be the perfect illustration of the purpose of Airing Out the “Dirty” Laundry and the unforeseeable and beautifully abundant outcomes of starting a project that has become a movement.
I couldn’t have imagined the real value of what I saw as simply just holding space and creating opportunities for women to share stories and experiences through visual storytelling.
Most Laundry Days I wasn’t certain if one person or 50 might appear in my family room or whatever community space that someone was sharing with me. I had to learn to trust that whether there was one person or fifty people in the room, whoever was there was supposed to be there.
As a thorough planner of all things (feel free to verify this with my husband, Jesse), I could tell my head that this was part of the process. But, it took some time for my heart to catch up to the idea that I had to give people time to see and trust me and the safe, brave spaces that we are creating together.
On one hand, I couldn’t have imagined the strong connections and friendships that would emerge between Laundry Day participants. I also couldn’t have imagined the friendships, partnerships and strong connections with artists, nonprofits, museums, community festivals, neighbors, studios/galleries, universities, organizations, complete strangers, banks, entrepreneurs, and just really badass local people that I would not have met otherwise.
If I listed the people that have helped me understand what community actually looks like, I would certainly surpass my word limit with just a list of names. I trust that you know who you are, so please ask the person closest to you for a hug and know that it’s from me. I see, love, and truly appreciate you.
I also couldn’t have imagined that in just two years, 400 women would participate and be willing to speak up and speak out and trust and believe that they do have a story to tell.
So, when’s all of this over? Friends, I can promise you that this is just the beginning. Regardless of the physical location I call home, I will continue creating this space for as long as folks have stories to share. The invitation is always open for you to participate and engage.
Stay connected by clicking here www.aotdl.org and stay tuned for The Mint Museum Uptown reopening, where the full collection of women’s stories is currently joined together for the first time on the 5th Floor.
“Thank you for keeping the door open and the biscuits in the oven.” – Lynnsy Logue
About Airing Out the “Dirty” Laundry
Andrea Downs is a visual artist, activist, community arts organizer, and educator. She is the founder of “Airing Out the ‘Dirty’ Laundry,” an ongoing community arts movement that responds to the silencing of women*, by creating space to share experiences through visual storytelling. They hold space for all women across the intersections of race, age, color, disability, faith, religion, ancestry, national origin, citizenship, social class, economic class, ethnicity, gender identity and gender expression.
Get the Down Low on Laundry Days
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It was a beautiful afternoon on the 5th Floor of The Mint Museum for some powerful story-sharing…beginning with a Virtual Laundry Day in partnership with Brave Step and followed by a filming of local dancer, Camerin Watson as she unveiled her new performance piece, “White Laundry” in collaboration with Airing Out the “Dirty” Laundry and videographer, Kevin Patterson. Please tune in for the premiere at Asheville Fringe’s Virtual Showcase this Wednesday at 7:30pm. Register today http://www.ashevillefringe.org/fringe-digital-summer #airingoutthedirtylaundry #womensstories #womensvoices #cltiscreative #charlotteartist #cltartist #visualstorytelling #weallhaveastory #speakup #speakout
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