February 28, 2012

An unusual (un)conference: Women Who Rock 2012

News and Information

For its second “(un)conference,” the UW-based Women Who Rock Collective is expanding, going multimedia and bringing in new community friends as it continues to explore the unheralded roles of women — especially women of color — in music.

But dont expect them to settle down or rock any less, because thats not part of the plan. This years theme says as much: “Making Scenes and Building Communities.”

It all takes place Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3, at Washington Hall, 153 14th Ave. in Seattle, and is completely open to the public.

The Women Who Rock Collective holds its second '(un)conference' March 2-3.

The Women Who Rock Collective holds its second "(un)conference" March 2-3.

There will be two keynote speakers: Alice Bag, author of the book “Violence Girl: From East L.A. Rage to Hollywood Stage — a Chicana Punk Story”; and Medusa, known as the Godmother of West Coast Hip Hop.

The gathering will host a Women Who Rock Film Festival from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, March 2. On Saturday, March 3, events will run from 8:30 a.m. to midnight.

The collective also is hosting a public conversation “bridging punk, rock and hip hop” with Bag (lead singer of The Bags), Medusa and Carla Desantis Black from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday, March 1, in 120 Communications.

This years Women Who Rock gathering is being organized by three faculty members: Michelle Habell-Pallán, associate professor of gender, women and sexuality studies; Sonnet Retman, associate professor of American ethnic studies; and Angelica Macklin, multimedia producer for the College of Educations National Center for Quality Teaching and Learning. Also providing key assistance was GWSS graduate student Monica de la Torre.

Habell-Pallán summed it all up: “Were trying to help retell the story of popular music in the United States, from the perspective this time of women.” In other words, as conference notes state, Women Who Rock is creating an “alternative genealogy of rock” — and about time, too, organizers might add.

It also has a serious academic side, including UW digital media production courses both in winter and spring, taught by Macklin, where students will learn to create their own documentaries.

What do they mean by an “(un)conference”? Their notes state, “(A) participant-driven form of gathering. We intend to create an open structure through which transformative conversations might emerge.”

This year, Women Who Rock is partnering with several “fierce community organizations” such as the grassroots group the Ladies First Collective, publicity notes state. “The event includes a Ladies First showcase that bridges punk, hip hop and son jarocho, featuring performances by Militant Child and My Parade and a community jam facilitated by the Seattle Fandango Project.”

And this year, Women Who Rock is expanding into video and audio. The group invited submissions from activists, artists, scholars, filmmakers and more. “The community responded with art, film and music, workshops designed to share new forms of mixing and mastering media,” notes state. They add that this years gathering, Women Who Rock “continues to explore the meanings of women, rock, hip hop, music, space, gender, race, class  and sexuality” through workshops and film screenings.

In addition to all this, the Women Who Rock Collective have begun a digital archive and oral history project on women in Pacific Northwest music, film and art that will be held in the future by UW Libraries and made accessible to the public. Interviews will be conducted during the two-day gathering.

“If people can come away knowing a little more than they did about the participation of women in music, thats great,” Habell-Pallán said. And if they find inspiration for work of their own, “Thats wonderful, too.”

Playwright Gretta Harley is one of these. Habell-Pallán said. “She presented last year and was so inspired by the conversations that she decided she needed to go off and do her own project. Harleys writing a play about her experiences in the Northwest music scene that Habell-Pallán said will run at Seattles A Contemporary Theater next season.

Advance notes say the (un)conference is a D.I.W.O. event, meaning “do it with others.” And participants should bring “instruments, paint brushes, beat, ideas, t-shirts for screen printing, recording tools, knitting, art supplies, jarana and dancing shoes.”

The event is sponsored by the Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies Program, the Simpson Center for the Humanities, the Graduate School and the Diversity Research Institute. The collective also got support from Lulu “Luzviminda” Carpenter, Ladies First community organizer, and Hidmo at Washington Hall.

You dont have to be a woman to participate, but you should be ready to get creative, and to, well, rock.