The list of names of local women profiled in the Lives on the Line event at the Oxford Hotel this Friday is a who’s-who of some of the most interesting and inspiring women in Bend. It includes Reverend Heather Starr, who shepherds Bend’s Unitarian congregation and whose partner is genderqueer; Amy Fraley, who started a program that gives under-privileged kids backpacks full of food for weekends so they don’t come to school hungry on Monday; and Rene Mitchell, who runs the nonprofit Art in Public Places and was recently widowed.
These women and dozens of others are the subjects of this out-of-the-ordinary, art-meets-community exhibit that features photographs of the women and short sentences about their most fundamental values and beliefs.
“Everyone has their hopes, their dreams, their struggles and their triumphs,” said Amanda Stuermer, founder of the local nonprofit Shine Global Project, which is sponsoring the one-night exhibit. “We want to show that women of all ages and all backgrounds have a voice and a face and a story to tell.”
The exhibit gets its Lives on the Line name from the way Stuermer and Bend photographer Amanda Conde are presenting the individual pieces in the exhibit—they’ll be strung on clotheslines in the lobby of the Oxford.
Visitors to the event will be invited to make their own photo/word snapshot, which will be hung in the space.
Stuermer and Conde hatched the plan to create the exhibit because they wanted to empower women, provide recognition to women in Central Oregon who have “stepped into the spotlight to be seen and heard,” and build a stronger community.
“I feel like more and more people are seeing art as a tool for transformation of communities,” said Stuermer, who cited events like this one and the recent Armchair storytelling night at Tin Pan Theater as cultural events that begin to shape the values of a town.
For Reverend Heather Starr this community aspect of the project was one of the most valuable reasons to participate.
“Bend is a small town and everybody is connected in a variety of ways,” said Starr. “It’s just cool to feel that fabric of the community growing through a project like this.”
The plan is to offer similar exhibits focused on specific groups in Central Oregon in the future, like scholarship recipients at Central Oregon Community College.
“There’s been an amazing response from the community,” said Stuermer. “I can see it growing now.”
Amy Fraley, who runs the Backpacks for Bend project, said being in an exhibit with so many other special women is a privilege.
“It’s an honor to be included, absolutely,” said Fraley, who is also program manager for J Bar J Boys Ranch.
She said the exhibit highlights the missions and passions of women in the community who are making a difference. She is hopeful this exhibit will inspire others to make things happen.
“Actions, big and small, matter and you never know how much,” said Fraley.
Stuermer believes so, too.
“When you see women creating personal change, you see how that sort of ripples out and creates a community change,” said Stuermer, who produced the exhibit as a function of her nonprofit, the Shine Global Project, which is devoted to empowering women around the world.
The results of her efforts are the clean, iconic images and messages visitors will see on Friday. There is something about them that feels genuine and open hearted, exactly the qualities Stuermer and Conde set out to capture.
“A lot of people have really expressed some personal things,” said Stuermer of women featured the exhibit. “I fall in love with each one.”
Lives on the Line Participants
Oxford Hotel lobby
10 NW Minnesota Ave., Bend
5 to 8pm, Friday, June 1
Amanda Stuermer, Amanda Conde, Amy Fraley, Arden Conde, Ashlie Dubois, Bella Wiener, Brittany Vnenchak, Caityln Sakelik, Cassondra Schindler, Charlotte Gilbride, Cheryl Howard, Cora Carroll, Cristy Bigelow, Cynthia Latimer, Elizabeth Johnson, Ellen Waterston, Gina McClard, Reverend Heather Starr, Heather Straw, Janine Wagner, Jazmin Hernandez, Jenni Peskin, Kate Dorn, Kathy Deggendorfer, Katlin Patiro, Kellie Riper, Kelly Pofahl, Lilli Worona, Linnea Huson, Lisa Renee Webb, Lizbeth Santana, Lizzi Katz, Macy Pofahl, Maeve Perle, Maggie Mae Louise Skyler, Mary Evers, Molly Carroll, Mona Kirk, Nancy Stevens, Patricia, Renae Gibbons, Rene Mitchell, Roma David, Ruby Tien, Sandy Cummings, Sara Wiener, Sarah Fife, Shayla Wilson, Tiffany Stevens, Vina Marz