Artist Statement: Camille Grager for International Women's Day

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When Tirzah International commissioned these watercolor portraits, I was thrilled to get to honor these incredible women through my artwork. I considered their similarities and differences. Their time periods, cultures, and appearances were each so unique, but their commonality is much stronger than any of those: they are each the woman in the ring, "daring greatly" as Teddy Roosevelt put it (in his less gender friendly speech, but we'll forgive him that as the sentiment rings true either way).

As I read each of their stories and pondered how best to represent them, I decided to render them with their  eyes closed. These women have closed their eyes to the limits that the world has placed on them. To close your eyes physically often coincides with opening your eyes spiritually. We close our eyes when we pray, when we contemplate, when we rest and dream, when we imagine, when we look at our own hearts. We can only see the outside, but God looks at the heart, says 1 Samuel 16:7. The best way I could artistically represent the achievements, vision, and strength of these women was to invite the viewer to contemplate what lies in our hearts - what fears and great courage, what scars and huge hopes - may be within each of us, man or woman, that we can dare to pursue to the glory of God and the freedom of all. 

Camille Grager

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