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Shade Zine
Apryl and AzhaMolly Matalon

Who are the women that inspire you?

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Dazed favourites Petra Collins, Art Hoe Collective, Glacier Girl and Shade Zine talk about the women that inspire them

Sisterhood can be a powerful, magical thing. We’re not just talking literal blood sisters – although, of course, the bond between sisters is some special freaky voodoo shit. We mean metaphorical sisterhood – supporting each other’s creative endeavours and inspiring each other to continually improve and be the best versions of yourself that you can possibly be.

Society frequently codes young girls to view each other as threats, not potential allies. Navigating the complex and messy business of adulthood is difficult for anyone, but the expectations we place on young women and the limited language we give them to communicate their desires makes female solidarity and sisterhood all the more important.

In the spirit of celebrating female collaboration this International Women’s Day, we asked some of our Dazed favourites – Petra Collins, Art Hoe Collective, Glacier Girl and Shade Zine to open up about the women that inspire them. Because, although women are strong on their own, they’re infinitely stronger as a collective – and that’s something we should celebrate.

Petra Collins nominates Anna Collins

Petra Collins: The day Anna was born was one of the happiest days of my life. I remember feeling super excited because I thought she was mine.

Anna Collins: Growing up, we were always working on plays, videos – I don’t think there was a time we weren’t collaborating with each other.

Petra Collins: We've been working creatively together for our entire lives. It’s so fun watching her grow and now being able to work on an adult level. One of my favourite things we collaborated on were three short films about teenage dancers around America called Making Space. Anna interviewed the girls and I directed the shorts around those interviews. I really respect what she does and it was nice to combine our mediums like that. 

Anna Collins: The Making Space road trip was just a really special time. It was the first time Petra has seen me dance in a while, it was the first real thing we worked on together as 'adults' and just being able to see my sister direct and work is the best thing I could ask for. She's so professional and smart and I love her so much. 

Petra Collins: Anna is such a magnificent dancer - her movements are big and otherworldly. Dance is one of my favorite mediums but I'm unable to do it because of my physical ailments. So I get to live it through her - I love watching her move and hopefully soon we will be creating performances together. 

Anna Collins: I’ve spent my whole life learning from Petra but I think the main thing I’ve learned from her is just to be you. That means not caring what other people think, having integrity in everything you do, and doing things for yourself, not anyone else.

Art Hoe Collective nominates Patricia Ellah

Gabby from Art Hoe Collective: Like how so many of these things go now, we me met over social media, Tumblr to be exact. Patricia invited me to meet up in real life in order to work on a photo project and that’s where everything begins.

Patricia Ellah: I seen a selfie they had taken that someone reblogged onto my dashboard and I reached out, I wanted to photograph them! Turns out Gabby was going to be in NY in a couple of weeks so it was perfect timing to plan a shoot.

Gabby from Art Hoe Collective: I've never collaborated with another artist before but I looked at Patricia’s work and I was moved by her ability to capture women of colour in her photos and knew immediately she was someone I wanted to work with.

Patricia Ellah: When Gabby finally got into the city, we had a very loose plan. I told her to come over and that we would work on some headshots. One of my favourite things that Gabby and I have collaborated on was an image where she’s lying on a couch.

Gabby from Art Hoe Collective: I have learned so much from Patricia through conversation and viewing her work. Patricia is so outspoken about the way that black people are represented in film photography. She always points out how when white artists capture the beauty of black people and people of the African diaspora in photography they are lauded and awarded for it, while when we try to capture ourselves we are never met with the same praise. Why? I have learned to ask more questions.

Patricia Ellah: Gabby teaches me to let go; to go out more. I spend a lot of time just deeply absorbed in my work, which really means a lot of time in front of my computer, or with my face in a book. She’s also taught me to let people in, especially people you’ve just met, in real life and online.

Gabby from Art Hoe Collective: We have butted heads on a couple of creative choices. Namely the piece where I have white eyebrows and lashes, Patricia wasn't really feeling it, but I convinced her to take a leap of faith, and it turned out well. I'm glad she put her trust in me.

Patricia Ellah: I don’t think International Women’s day is pointless. At a certain point women were completely uncelebrated, unable to have jobs, and seen simply as possessions. Things like that still occur in countries around the world, and where my family’s from. It’s important to remind women, especially younger women, to celebrate who you are, especially if you are consistently pushed behind the man. Our thoughts and work are valid. 

Gabby from Art Hoe Collective: Until women get the appreciation that they deserve, International Women's Day needs to be a reminder. We are here; we matter. Look at all we've done.

Glacier Girl aka Elizabeth Farrell nominates Constance McDonald

Glacier Girl: Connie came to study for a semester in the UK and messaged to meet up, we fantasised about going to Iceland together… that fantasy became a reality weeks later.

Constance McDonald: We’d followed each other on Instagram when I was living in New Zealand.

Glacier Girl: We became friends instantly. I guess what came out of it was collaborating whenever we were together- whether sharing ideas and references or seeing a glacier for the first time in Iceland.

Constance McDonald: Our collaboration was never really a conscious decision or specific moment, it kind of just sprouted from our friendship and hanging out together.

Glacier Girl: Our trip to Iceland is a highlight: I saw my first glacier! We share so many great memories and experiences from that trip. Everything was so new but it felt as if we’d known each other for years.

Constance McDonald: When we first met I photographed Lizzy in all her glacial blue clothing, some she’d made herself or upcycled. When we set off for Iceland she made me the most beautiful Remember The Glaciers scarf with “Princess Connie” on it, she coined that name for me.

Glacier Girl: Connie shines such a positive light on everything, and that has massively influenced my activism- she’s helped turn my anger into positive action.

Constance McDonald: Lizzie has taught me that the pursuit of knowledge happens every day, and to read, watch and absorb. There are so many girls brought up in a toxic femininity that excludes them from realising their academic, artistic and social potential. Anything that is encouraging and inspiring women to dream and do, I’m all for.

Glacier Girl: Globally, women contribute less yet are impacted more by climate change. Those who can need to work together. Collaboration is so important because when we work together we can communicate even more powerfully and inspire each other to reach our full potential.

Azha and Apryl from Shade Zine nominate each other

Azha: We met at Thrift Town in San Francisco. I recognized her from my astronomy class; she was trying on some green rain boots that looked like frogs when our mutual friend Liz introduced us. I also saved her life one time with a bagel, a bottle of water, and some ibuprofen (famous hangover remedy.)

Apryl: We didn’t start collaborating until one night when we were sitting in a taqueria talking about everything under the sun, hella fiery. That’s kind of when we knew it was our time to create. We had been talking a lot about school and our personal experiences and everything fell into place. That’s when Shade went beyond being a concept.

Azha: Us becoming friends was destined. I hadn’t found my group of people and Apryl was just so sweet and cool like she crafted hella mod podge pins and stuff before that shit was popular. We were both total “Tumblr girls” and decided that we wanted to try and make a joint Tumblr.

Apryl: We live together, we went to school together, we worked together, and we’re always growing together.

Azha: Apryl taught me to be self confident, to not allow other people’s opinions to affect the way that I view myself and to love and to trust someone other myself. I’ve learned the true meaning of friendship. I know that sounds hella corny but solid female creative/artistic friendships like these are so rare. I cherish the late nights that we spend bouncing ideas off of each other.

Apryl: Azha is a supernova star. I’m telling you, like I tell her all the time, she can and will do anything. You might think this is funny but I think just the way she manoeuvres through the world is art. Her room is so indicative of who she is. It’s an art gallery. Azha lives to the fullest and makes every detail meaningful. Her self-expression inspires me. Look at the way this girl dresses and smiles and dances and talks. Azha is one of the most supportive, inspiring artists in my life.

Azha: We disagree all of the time but without disagreeing the shit that we do would not be how it is. You literally need someone to tell you, “Hey that’s not right” otherwise how else can you progress?

Apryl: It’s not like malicious because ultimately we always support and want the best for each other. When we disagree we always regroup and discuss. It’s all about understanding and talking things through. 

Azha: I think it’s important as women to work with each other because often times when people think of photographers, artists, curators, etc they immediately think of men. It’s sick to know and be surrounded by so many amazing creative souls. 

Apryl: I say this often and it is absolutely crucial. Women need to be together and support each other’s creative processes. For Azha and I, it’s very much about our identities as women of colour and how we come together despite so many things that set us apart. It is important to collaborate with women so that we can cultivate strong support for each other and the work we create.