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The Art Gallery of Female Empowerment

Right in the middle of New York in the Diane Von Furstenberg flagship store on Washington Street, stands an exhibit dedicated to all the powerful women in the world. There are 37 large-scale portraits that include Michelle Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga, Barbra Streisand, Jacqueline Kennedy, Diane Ross, Malala Yousafzai, Cleopatra, Mother Teresa, Barbie, Rosa Parks, and more. It celebrates the influential female leaders who have made a mark on the world.

Diane Von Furstenberg is a Belgian fashion designer well known for her iconic wrap dresses and her brand D.V.F. Furstenberg collaborated with a 43-year-old Alabama artist, Ashley Longshore, who is a well-celebrated artist known for her vibrant and colorful artworks.

According to WWD, these two artists came together when Furstenberg had a vision for showcasing all the achievements women have achieved in the fields of science, literature, entertainment, and philanthropy. They both believed that these women have not received enough attention for the amazing accomplishments they had been able to achieve as women in a male-dominated world.

Specially for this exhibit, Longshore took the signature brightly-colored prints of D.V.F. to create these hip and trendy artworks. According to Vanity Fair, Longshore states that whole purpose of the work is to allow the viewers to see themselves in each portrait. She created all 37 portraits in just two weeks so that the opening of the exhibit coincided with International Women’s Day, March 8th.

Through her works, Longshore brings out the personalities of each and every woman. In one particular portrait of Furstenberg, we see that the background incorporates artwork of women Furstenberg personally found inspirational.  In another, the Statue of Liberty covers the background of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s portrait which symbolizes the liberty and justice that Ginsburg has fought for throughout her career. Malala Yousafzai’s portrait was especially important to Longshore as she always saw Malala as “an incredible woman with an incredible story.” She added monarch butterflies to the portrait as a mesmerizing homage to the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Though I have never had the chance to lay my eyes on these iconic pieces, just looking at the photos has made me feel as though I was part of this great empowering movement.  Everything stands out – the colors, the patterns, the women, and the artistry in each piece. Longshore captures these women at influential moments. Each and every one of these portraits represent the powerful and formidable personalities of each woman. Collectively, these portraits stand together as a force that embraces you and as the viewer, you feel powerful too. As Furstenberg so accurately stated, “There is nothing more inspiring than looking at women who dared.”

Michelle is an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania'22. She is planning to major in Biology as a Pre-Med. Her favorite hobbies include drinking tea, taking terrible pics, and trying to find the next best TV show to watch.
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