“The Walk” is a new art series by Rora Blue, consisting of 15 sticky notes paired with photographs exploring the things that women carry for protection when walking alone. Blue asks her audience from all over the world to anonymously submit notes detailing the precautionary measures they take in order to feel more protected.
Was there an incident that sparked the idea of the series?
Rora Blue: One night I was walking alone to my car. The first thing I did when I got in my car was hit the lock button, which is what I always do first. I looked across the parking lot and saw a man relaxing in his car on his phone. It dawned on me that he probably had no idea that locking my doors was part of my routine. He probably had never thought to do it himself. This got me thinking about all of the things women carry and do to protect themselves.
Why did you choose the color pink?
Rora Blue: Pink is a color that is traditionally associated with women. A lot of women have strong feelings about the color pink because of that. I am interested in colors that bring up strong emotions, no matter if that emotion is negative or positive. Personally, I really loved the color pink as a kid. I grew to dislike it a few years ago after creating a lot of work that explores women’s issues. Now, I am in a place where I would like to reclaim the color pink. Using the pink almost monochromatically in “The Walk” is a way for me to do that. It also allows me to start a conversation with other women on how they feel about the color.
How many submissions did you get?
Rora Blue: I have about 150 anonymous sticky note submissions from women all over the world.
How do you select the ones you want to feature?
Rora Blue: I selected ones that were submitted most frequently or that described things I had never heard of women carrying. I have also been very struck by how young some of the girls that submit the sticky notes are. I’ve received submissions from girls as young as 12. I will usually feature those submissions.
Tell us more about your design process.
Rora Blue: I selected 15 sticky notes and created a photo that is a visual representation of the submission. Similar to the submissions, the photographs are also anonymous. I don’t show any of the women’s faces. I do this so that the viewer can relate to the woman in the photo more easily. I also shot many of the photos with the object pointing at the camera so that the viewer can experience the vantage point of the perpetrator.
Is there one specific category that people submit to mostly?
Rora Blue: It seems to be all across the board. However, clothing is a big one. Women commonly talk about wearing oversized clothes and shoes that are easy to run in.
Which submission was the most heartfelt one?
Rora Blue: I guess this depends on who you ask. For me, it is the submission from a 17-year-old girl who talks about carrying around a pocket knife from the time she was 7. I had no idea that some 7-year-old girls are already thinking about this.
Did you get any reactions from a male audience?
Rora Blue: I just spoke at CICA Museum’s “Art Teleported” exhibition and conference. While I was there, I received quite a few questions and positive feedback from men. This has been a welcome change in tone from my 2016 series “Handle With Care.” The response to that series was largely negative from my male audience.
What kind of negative feedback?
Rora Blue: I received hundreds of hateful comments across social media. The series highlighted sexist comments that had been said to me or other women such as “You’re a woman. You belong in the kitchen.” A few men took these comments at face value and said things like “Finally, a woman who knows her place.” The comments got to me a little bit at first. One of my biggest goals with my art is to start a conversation. I tried to view these comments, though they were negative, as just part of the conversation. That helped me to cope a lot.
Is there a space other than Instagram where we can see the works?
Rora Blue: I hope to exhibit the collages along with the 15 photographs once they are complete. For now, they can also be viewed on my website.
Follow Rora Blue on Instagram. If you’d like to participate, send your pink sticky note to P.O. Box 18495 Reno, NV 89511.