Arts(isis bw)

Earlier this year, Kat Carey was browsing through her Upworthy feed when she came across a post titled “Not Just A Girl…,” from the blog of Austin photographer Jaime Moore.

In the posting, Moore professed her concern about the lack of recognition for important women in American culture–women who might serve as role models for her five-year-old daughter, Emma.

To teach her daughter about some of these significant women, Moore dressed up and photographed her daughter emulating famous photographs of feminist icons such as Susan B. Anthony, Coco Chanel, Amelia Earhart, Helen Keller and Jane Goodall.

A local photographer with a daughter of her own, Carey was inspired. She and her friend, marketing professional Cassandra Yardeni, began the development of what would eventually become the “Isis Project.”

“We wanted to expand on (Moore’s) idea,” said Carey. “We eventually developed an endgame, but in the beginning we were just thinking ‘Wouldn’t it be great if our and other people’s daughters had an opportunity not only to dress as these historical women, but to actually learn how these women changed the world?’”

After some careful planning, they decided on the focus of the project, which — as defined in their motto — is “Empowering Girls through the Celebration of Extraordinary Women.”

Yardeni explained that the “Isis Project” would allow any pair of volunteers to have the same experience with their daughter, niece or grandchild as Moore had with her daughter. By paying a $20 fee to cover photo shoot expenses and provide parents’ their young relative with a costume — usually of a woman important to the child’s race, family heritage or cultural upbringing — any child will be able to participate.

By taking the best photograph from each photo shoot and placing a short description of the female historical figure at the bottom, the “Isis Project” hopes to take the initiative of Moore’s blog post a step further by creating educational material to be displayed on city infrastructure.

According to the founders, early reception of the project has been promising. “We knew that before we did anything we needed images, so Cassie created a Facebook group for our first photo sessions in October. Within two hours, we had filled in the first session and we had to make another for November,” explained Yardeni.

The two currently have full sessions until January and a long waiting list for sessions after. The pair answered that they believe women — and quite a few men — are fed up with the lack of recognition American culture has for important women.

“I don’t want my daughter growing up to know more about a pop star’s lunch than what Malala Yousafzai has done for women’s education,” said Carey.

Some of the incredible women represented in the first session are Malala Yousafzai, a 16 year-old Pakistani girl who, after surviving a Taliban gunshot to the head, has advocated for education and women’s rights; Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and third female to serve as a US Supreme Court justice; and Frida Kahlo, a Mexican surrealist painter known for her unique style of folk art and her realistic depiction of an independent female form.

Carey and Yardeni were surprised they knew so little about the women depicted in their first session.

“I felt like, how come I never learned about this? For example I had no idea Sonia Sotomayor held 10 honorary law degrees,” stated Carey.

The next big step for the program will be to present the project to the city. “We wanted to have a product to present for them before we approach them with our idea,” explained Carey. If they are able to get support, they hope to eventually create a non-profit organization to help spread the project to other metropolitan areas.

For information about upcoming sessions, a gallery of their work and links to their Facebook and Twitter pages visit the “Isis Project” at isisprojectsa.wordpress.com.

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