Appeared in the Entertainment Section of The Siskiyou, May 2007.
‘Athena in Velvet’ prides the empowerment of women
By Ellie Corso
The empowering art of being a woman was the theme for the third annual “Athena in Velvet,” hosted by the Women’s Resource Center.
The spring celebration of women and creativity had live performances, real-life art, wine and plenty of chocolate.
The event, packed to full capacity, was held at the Mojo Rising Workshop and Events Studio. It was decorated with pillows and candles which created a peaceful and elegant atmosphere. The two female hosts started with a colorful introduction before introducing the first group, Darlingtonia.
The singers, who are Oregon natives, began with an introduction explaining the origin of the groups name. It comes from a plant called ‘cobra lily’, which they described as “curvaceous.”
During the performance, Darlingtonia singer Kerrissa Fuccillo played the harmonica and guitar. One of their songs was inspired from the poem “Still I Rise,” by Maya Angelou. They recited lines from the poem in sync with harp player, Sofia Jensen.
Fuccillo, who used to be a high school teacher and now teaches guitar to young people, feels it is important to get the message out, especially to young women.
“The idea of women in empowerment,” Fuccillo said, “especially at the age range of 17 to 19, I feel like it is a really pivotal time when women start to decide who they want to be in the world and it feels really important to me to be a role model of strong, creative and empowered women.”
Former Vagina Monologues director Brook Colley suggested that they perform for this event after working with Fuccillo during the monologues.
“The Women’s Resource Center does such a good job on getting that out to young women all over the world, older women too but especially [the young] age group I think really needs to hear that women can be strong, creative and be themselves,” she said. “It was just a great event.”
Coming from Los Angeles, Oregon natives Jimmy Strong and British-born Sheila Nicholls were the other performers for the night. Strong is currently working on a record and Nicholls was featured on the “High Fidelity” soundtrack.
Nicholls and Strong sang a song from the “Left Behind” series, in which the women refused to have sex with the men unless they stopped fighting. Strong also played songs such as “Georgina” and “Scoops,” inspired by her favorite ice cream parlor. Another song Nicholls sang was inspired by a dream she had about her husband.
“I was really excited to do something that felt gentle, woman-based and leaving Los Angeles was a treat and it was a great experience coming to Oregon,” said Nicholls.
Nicholls, who is pregnant, made comments in between songs about how she could feel her baby moving all around. She then had the audience vote which name they liked best for her unborn child.
During their performance, an actress portraying goddess Athena inspired models, whose bodies were painted and made to look like statues, to grace the stage. The models would change positions to fit with the song. One of the statues, Renee Fisk, was painted silver and black from head to toe and was tied with rope around her body.
Fisk, the AmeriCorps VISTA Civic Engagement Coordinator for SOU, said she enjoys doing all types of performance art.
“I get into the theme concept a lot and I appreciate being able to do my own art, sort of in a way that is expressed along with the attributes of Athena,” said Fisk. “It was really neat to be able to find positions that gave off the same energy as the music.”
Student Mandy Engler, who attended last year, enjoyed the whole event and especially the Dagoba organic chocolate.
“I like how it brings the people locally and out of the area together and there’s chocolate,” Engler said. “It’s a really great event and I am really glad it goes on and I will be back.”
Community resident Jill Mackile, who heard about the event from her daughter, felt the theme of the event was very important and the message needed to get out. “Especially nowadays when everything is sort of trying to take woman’s empowerment away from them,” Mackile said.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Vivacious Voices: Empowerment through Education and Expression, the Women’s Resource Center’s creativity program.
The hosts ended with words of encouragement. “Recognize the extraordinary way you live your life and the changes you make that make you who you are.”