There are some women in Spokane doing some super awesome things. In fact, there are a lot of women doing awesome things, so we’re starting a new series to let you know what the women of this city are up to. To nominate someone, email us at TheSpovangelist@Spovangelist.com
Ildikó Kalapács is a local artist, but she hasn’t always been local. Originally from Hungaria, Ildikó has transplanted well into the Spokane community. According to her artist statement she is, “Exploring cultural, racial and class identity in the context of globalization using internal (inner) realities and through external images.” Her latest project is called the Bearing Project. “The public sculpture titled Bearing is proposed to be cast life-size and placed in a prominent location in the greater Spokane area. Cast by the internationally-known Walla Walla Foundry, Bearing will be a gift to the community from the donors of the Bearing Public Sculpture Project Fund.”
The message is clear, “Bearing celebrates the strength of women across the world. This sculpture depicts a woman carrying a man, to represent the burden that war places on the human spirit. Dispossessed women carry the weight of family & spousal responsibilities; bearing the physical & emotional load of the aftermath of war.”
We think she’s super badass.
SPOVANGELSIT: As an artist, what challenges do you face in Spokane’s attitude towards art, and what do you do to combat them?
ILDIKO: I think the arts, including the visual arts, are crucial in any culture, because they bring us beauty or ugliness–they soothe us or shake us up–or everything in between. They can challenge us beyond our comfort zone, so we discover who we are and are not. They talk to us about our identities, others’ identities, our collective state as a society … and they might offer glimpse into the lives of outsiders.
Thus, in a thriving city, they must be everywhere and accessible to all. On some level, that richness is missing in Spokane … or it only appears periodically. I would love to see more public art in the city (perhaps some art rotated yearly, say, in a sculpture walk), more street musicians, perhaps an art center for all arts (using an old architectural structure or a new one), including theatre and dance, especially folk dance/music.
I have been in the field of folk dance and folk music most of my life, and I study cultural anthropology. It taught me to appreciate how a local culture can become “naturally” rich just by physical proximity to a neighboring ethnic community and by cross-cultural friendships and marriages (healthier gene pool). These new artistic expressions live on and change through generations and thrive in peacetime.
Investing in the arts makes economical sense too. It brings people to the art-centered parts of the city and, where historical architecture is preserved, they spend more time and money there, just because it is just thrilling to be in an environment which is full of aesthetic stimulation and of life. It is also educational for younger generations to be exposed to such an environment since they will learn to be comfortable around all kinds of cultures and artistic expressions.
That’s how we could create a more thriving and participative community, conditioning all of us to a new way of thinking about the arts and making them a natural part of life here.
SPOVANGELIST: Where do you see other people struggling, culture-wise, in Spokane, and how do you think we address these issues?
ILDIKO: The word diversity has been used excessively in the past 20 years or more in art and political contexts, but for a healthy and democratic culture/subculture it is essential to embrace diversity. Diversity is multigenerational, multicultural, multilingual, multi-class, multi-racial, multi-orientational. It is not just a democratic way of living, but it benefits the culture as a whole by including a multitude of life experiences, spanning decades and reaching beyond our borders. That’s how a culture evolves and can bloom.
It also economically beneficial where a community can draw on all these experiences money cannot buy. Many people who came from other cultures carry such wisdom and a different view of problems and solutions. We could not have access to their talents without their presence in our community. Thus I think we must invite them into our businesses, onto our boards, into our classrooms, churches, and art institutions, befriend them and help them to be part of our community and contribute to the arts as active participants. This could lead to different organizations and small communities pulling their resources together to make it happen.
SPOVANGELIST: What do you love about Spokane?
ILDIKO: The core area of the city is accessible, and I truly appreciate the lovely green areas and parks. I grew up in such a culture where large parks with gardens, seats, sculptures were peppered throughout the city inviting all to spend time outdoors. A big chunk of socializing happened in the parks.
SPOVANGELIST: What worries you about Spokane?
ILDIKO: I am concerned about the lack of expanded public transportation, a situation that makes people reliant on their cars. It is not just that it is bad for the environment, but cars also isolate people. From a business point of view, too, it makes sense to provide access to major parts of the region for work, play, and tourism. It also ties into the issue of aesthetics I touched upon above. In a pedestrian-friendly, lively, gorgeous, and artsy city, one would want to spend time … and that’s how we could help build a healthier and more inclusive community.
SPOVANGELIST: What do you hope the Bearing Project will bring to people in Spokane?
ILDIKO: The sculpture will be in an open public space, accessible to all. The hope for The Bearing Public Sculpture Project is that it will raise the issue of empathy toward those who have experienced hardship during and after wars. Perhaps it can become a destination site for those who survived wars and helped others … or were helped themselves.
I also believe that it could create some awareness about the fight people fight after the end of hostilities. Perhaps some survivors–veterans and their spouses as well as civilians–will share their stories with loved ones or the public. That could contribute to the process of healing.
Audrey Connor is a student at Spokane Falls Community College. She enjoys nature, music, and public transportation. And tights. She writes for The Spovangelist.
The Spovangelist is a collective of Spokane writers examining our city from different angles.