SWAN Day in the ‘Burgh
“Everyone has an untold story behind closed doors. Try to understand that people are not always as they first seem.”
The quote above is the thematic inspiration for the 7th annual SWAN Day Pittsburgh. SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) is an international holiday that showcases and celebrates diverse female artists from multiple disciplines. In the past seven years, there have been 1,200 SWAN Day events in 24 countries. This year’s SWAN Day Pittsburgh is like never before, featuring WORLD PREMIERE works by local female musicians, choreographers, theatre artists, filmmakers, visual artists, live painters, and more.
Hosting this year’s SWAN Day, once again, is No Name Players, a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for local theatre artists (and artists beyond) with an interest in works that speak to their own creative, eclectic style, in order to enrich and educate audiences. No Name Players’ team-based, dynamic mentality makes for well-rounded productions, which is why they’ve featured over 200 female artists on SWAN Day since 2009.
The featured female artists come from diverse backgrounds. Aimee Manion, for example, studied biology and anthropology, the inspirational foundation for her murals, portraits, and fine art. Science and evolution fuel her creativity as she playfully explores the questions and mysteries of life that extend from the deep sea to outer space; alien worlds to geology; as well as technology, industrialization, biochemistry and more. One of her more recent paintings is shown on the right. The painting, called “CNS Informational Regurgitation,” is a mix of oil, acrylic ink, colored pencil, collage, and polycrylic on wood. As science and creativity collide in a surreal lens, Aimee’s art embodies a timely outlook that suggests art and science are not two exclusive worlds. If the fields could enhance one another, as Aimee lets occur within her art, it opens an entire realm of knowledge potential.
Judith Avers, a singer-songwriter part of this year’s SWAN Day, was raised in Kansas on country music, and has a sweet voice with modern American-folk tones. She has lived and performed all over the country, and has shared her song-writing stories on TEDx, a presentation called “How Writing Songs in 60 Minutes Changed My Life.” Another SWAN Day artist, Pittsburgh native singer-songwriter, Brooke Annibale, has a smoky vocal texture. Her unique earthy tones, infused with pop, creates an alluring sound. Brooke has made three full length albums and one EP; many of her songs were featured on TV shows such as “Pretty Little Liars,” “One Tree Hill,” and “Vampire Diaries.” Last year, Judith and Brooke teamed up to create The Song Jar, a custom songwriting business that takes your stories and sets them to song. They specialize in wedding and engagement songs, but relish in all types of stories.
REED Dance, appearing at SWAN Day, is committed to staying on the pulse of contemporary dance, bringing together multicultural communities while preserving the African experience in an educational environment. Founding Director, Greer Reed, started training at the Pittsburgh Theater Black Dance Ensemble and remains committed to teach young people dance. In 2009, she received an August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble Fellowship to create the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble. The ensemble saw rapid growth and success which inspired a change in name to Reed Dance.
The idea for SWAN day was initiated from a collaboration between WomenArts and Chicago’s WITASWAN (Women in the Audiences Supporting Women Artists Now). Jan Lisa Huttner, film critic and founder of WITASWAN, invited Martha Richards, the executive producer of WomenArts, to speak at an American Association of University Women conference in Bloomington, IL in 2007. While driving and eating pizza, the two discussed ways they could build stronger connections among women artists and gather more women within their audiences. Thus, SWAN Day was born.
The list of amazingly talented and inspirational women artists to be featured on SWAN Day is abundant. Other names include Kahmeela Adams, Brooke Annibale, Judith Avers, Jackie Baker, Laura Barletta, David Bielewicz, Bodiography Contemporary Ballet, Jennifer Buck, Camelia Road, Bridget Carey, Siovhan Christensen, Angela Citrola, Continuum Dance Theater, Ashley Cornwall, Tiara Dinkins, Kaylyn Farneth, Jessica Heberle, Mils James, Jen Krezezcowski, Everett Lowe, Aimee Manion, Jena Oberg, Gayle Pazerski, Bridgette Perdue, Tracey Ramun, Rachna Rajen, Reed Dance, Sherri Roberts, Danielle Rode, Elizabeth L. Ruelas, Texture Contemporary Ballet, Bria Walker, Students from Act One Theatre School and Pittsburgh CAPA, and more!
The event will be held Saturday, March 14, at 8PM, located at The Twentieth Century Club in Oakland. Tickets can be purchased on Showclix; they are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Student tickets can be bought for $10 at the door. Make sure to come out and support some of the best women artists from the ‘Burgh and beyond!