“These women’s stories inspire us to re-imagine our world as a place where we aren’t short changing our desires but rather deepening our experience of living.”
Completed in February, 2008, the feature documentary Who Does She Think She Is? (Mystic Artists Film Productions) focuses on the lives of five women who are artists and mothers. The film, made in association with the Wellesley Center for Research on Women, examines what it takes to make art in a society that devalues—emotionally and financially—the work of women and artists.
Award-winning director Pamela Tanner Boll, a mother of three, felt divided between her family’s needs and her creative desires. In 2003, Boll met Maya Torres, a mother and artist who succeeded in making a life out of her art. Humbled, Boll felt the need to tell Torres’s story through film and began searching for other women who managed as both mothers and artists.
The featured artists in Who Does She Think She Is? range in age from twenty-seven to sixty-five and represent different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. In addition to Torres, the film follows Camille Musser, a mother of two who reconnects with her Caribbean heritage through her art; Mayumi Oda, a sixty-year-old printmaker who runs an organic farm in Hawaii for young women; Angela Williams, a mother who takes care of her two girls while auditioning for Broadway; and Janis Wunderlich, a full-time sculptor and mother of five.
The film fuses an eclectic mix of archival photos and footage, images of art by women (including works in NMWA’s collection), and cinema vérité footage of the featured artists. Interviews with curators and cultural critics, including Maura Reilly and Leonard Shlain, help explain the historical trends that continue to marginalize women in the art world. “These women’s stories inspire us to re-imagine our world as a place where we aren’t short changing our desires but rather deepening our experience of living,” explains the director. Boll hopes to screen Who Does She Think She Is? at festivals and venues nationwide.
This review was originally published by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Spring 2008