Roots On The Road!

The Roots To Resistance Women fared incredibly well on their first Road trip together, landing in Brattleboro’s Gallery In The Woods! The project was invited to the Vermont Gallery over the holiday season as an offering to their Community and a gift to the project. The project itself was still trying to create a path forward that would see us raising funds that could be put directly into the hands of the Roots Women. We had imagined finding a permanent home for the project, a larger institution or Community Organization that could garner more funds and attention for these amazing Activists. That process of searching still continues, but Gallery In The Woods showed us what a partnership between Roots To Resistance and a local exhibit space could do!

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We have decided that in the foreseeable future, we will use all upcoming exhibits as Fundraisers with at least 50% of what is raised going to each one of the Roots Women and their Communities and Organizations. At Gallery In The Woods we were given 4 months and we did two separate Fundraising shows! The first was for the complicated legacy of Aung San Suu Kyi and we chose to raise funds now and in the future for an Organization called BRAC which gives aid in Bangladesh to Rohingya refugees forced to flee violence in Myanmar. The second exhibition was in the name of the slain Honduran Activist and Heroine Berta Cáceres, with funds to be passed on through her daughter Bertita to their organization COPINH. Both Fundraisers were profoundly successful due to money raised in kind donations and from the sales of our Roots calendars. We are so thrilled to be able to send out over $1200 in support to these profoundly important aims and our Gratitude goes out to Gallery In The Woods and to all who supported the show in Brattleboro!


The Vermont exhibit not only helped us to raise important funds, but helped us to imagine a way to carry the project forward as we search for a permanent home for the Roots Portraits! All these many years of creating the Women’s portraits, postcards and street posters have seen me restlessly awaiting the day that significant funds are raised from this project that can be put directly into the hands of the Women or their Community Organizations. I had always imagined that this would happen due to an auctioning of the Portraits but in the end I could not bear to split the twelve Women up because I feel that their strength is in the connection of all twelve. So the portraits for now will stay together and raise modest funds through a traveling New England exhibition and the kindness and coming together of these wonderful Communities.

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Next week we will be bringing the project back home and exhibiting it at Northampton’s Anchor House Of Artists with an official opening on Friday March 9th. This show will be raising funds for  Roots Activist and beloved Friend Malalai Joya. Malalai is an Afghan Peace and Women’s Rights Activist doing critically important, brave and selfless work in the Communities of Afghanistan. She  continues to face profound challenges and is in great need of our support and solidarity. Please visit our exhibit at Anchor House Of Artists in the coming months to support the aims of the amazing Malalai Joya and infuse yourself with the earthshaking strength and spirits of the Roots twelve!


If you live outside of our lovely New England area but would like to be a part of supporting the work of Malalai Joya in this upcoming exhibit please visit the link below! We are offering a Postcard Fundraiser in $10 increments of support and 100% of funds raised from these Postcards will be put in the hands of Malalai Joya in support of her work in Afghanistan.

Click Here To Visit The Malalai Joya Postcard Fundraiser

If you are interested in hosting an exhibition of these twelve earthshaking Superheroines contact us at            

Sending vast buckets of Love and Gratitude out in all directions.                                       Please share this post or pass it on if you can.

denise & Roots To Resistance


Malalai Joya Visits! Our Food For Thought Event and Our New Work Together!

Two weeks ago we were profoundly honored with a visit from Roots Activist Malalai Joya. For those who do not know her, Malalai is one of the most important Peace and Justice Activists working in Afghanistan today. She tirelessly resists the War and Occupation, attacks on Women’s Rights, violence, corruption and warlords who have been handed authority over townships and Communities in Afghanistan.  As many know she has survived 7 assassination attempts not to mention a constant wave of aggression coming from those that she stands against. It would be easy to caricature her as fierce and fearless, a mythical Super heroine, after all , she is called the bravest Women in Afghanistan. That she is. However,  Malalai Joya like so many Activists is more than just her Activism,  she is a Mother, a member of her Family and Community, and a citizen of Afghanistan. She worries, faces many fears and feels the weight of a path that is chosen but very difficult. I feel very lucky and honored to call her a friend. She is profoundly kind, gracious, loving, likes to be silly, and yes she is fierce, strong, and profoundly effective at moving mountains. We spend a lot of time checking in about the challenges when I see her but also we laugh a lot. She amazes me. I feel exhausted from doing 5 events in a couple weeks while she speaks in a different state every night for months at a time. When she is at home she must stay in a different safe house every night because of the danger to her and to her Family. Can you imagine her concern for them? For her son?

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When she was here Malalai Joya and I had some time to talk about and work on the details of an additional Postcard campaign that will support her aims. We currently send Postcards that we created with Malalai demanding an end to the war and occupation in Afghanistan, around the World. The Postcards are pre-addressed to President Obama and the White House and a stream of them are sent each month from many corners of the Globe. Malalai and I are now creating an additional Postcard and Street Postering campaign to raise funds for a film she is working on called, A Woman Among Warlords. The film is a very important one, as it will be informing a World Community about the real truths and realities of the past and present Afghanistan through interviews and conversations with Malalai and with spoken experiences of the People, Families and Communities inside of Afghanistan. The film is important for many reasons but the ones Malalai sites have to do with bringing attention to Afghanistans forgotten People and bringing their true realities, their truths, to all.

The new Postcards bringing support for this Film, will be available this week so please be in touch if you would like to disperse some.

Malalai Joya is someone who deserves profound respect and the consideration of your support , and I pass on her gratitude to you for that.                                                          The link below will allow you to directly support Malalai and her new film:                     

To learn more about how to support Malalai Joya please visit the site of her Defense Committee:

A great article written about the event by local media Organization Orangeink:

 Click here To learn more about the Roots To Resistance Project



The Story Of Roots To Resistance

Recently someone who is helping me find new directions for RootsTo Resistance and they asked me to write up a brief History of the project. Here it is.

Natalia Estemirova                                

The Story Of Roots2Resistance

I suppose the seeds of the Roots To Resistance project were planted in the Summer of 2009. That was the Summer that I learned about Natalia Estemirova. That was the Summer that Natalia was abducted from her home in Chechnya. She was abducted from her home and murdered because she raised her voice to speak truths and because she refused to be silent. I had never heard of Natalia Estemirova before, I didn’t know that she was a Human Rights Journalist who had tirelessly served as a voice for the silenced, war torn and poor Communities of Chechnya. Yet I was profoundly moved by her story, her life, her work and the sadness of her violent passing. Sometimes a person’s story enters into you and connects with your heart. That is most definitely what happened to me when I heard the story of Natalia Estemirova and that is what convinced me to try to paint Natalia back to life.

I should interject here to say that I am a Painter who has been making Art for 25 years. I was trained as a Painter and a Printmaker in my early 20 s but after I left college painting became my main focus. I stumbled into Art School by accident, not really understanding how I ended up there and not really having the natural born talents that some of my classmates seemed to be able to pluck out on demand. I wasn’t really interested in painting the nude models or the contrived still lives. Then I made a miraculous discovery. I could paint from the inside. I could paint stories, unseen, imagined things and most importantly I could paint feelings. From that moment on I never stopped.

This is the place I was in when I learned of Natalia. I had spent 25 years exploring, learning and growing by making Art and so many new directions and discoveries were also making their way into my work at this time. Social Justice issues and a deep connection to the woods, hiking and the entire natural World had become central to all of the Art that I was creating. Still my specialty was finding unique ways of illustrating the vibrating, explosive nature of feelings, particularly my own. I set about painting Natalia Estemirova’s Portrait in that same way. I did not want to paint a purely reverent and accurate rendition of Natalia, I wanted to paint the Joy, anger, sadness, frustration, love and devastation that must have accompanied her during all of the days of her work. I wanted to paint her wrapped up with the Natural World as a gift which would keep her alive. I wanted People to know who she was and I wanted them to have chance to be moved by her life and her work.

When the Portrait was completed I decided to create a postcard which would bring attention to the life of Natalia and would be Pre-addressed to Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin, demanding justice and an end to targeting of Human Rights Journalists. The postcards would be mailed across the World and People would be able to learn of Natalia and immediately raise their voices in support by mailing the postcard to its destination. I contacted an Organization in Russia called Youth Human Rights which had done work on Natalia’s case and other abducted Journalists. They translated the postcard text for me and received 1000 postcards which they would put into the hands of Chechen and Russian Community Members. The seeds were planted.

Painting Natalia led me to wonder about the other Women that were alive and doing profoundly risky, Earthshaking work on the Planet. I began to search for them with friends, colleagues and through International and Community Organizations. There were hundreds of Women to learn about and consider. In the end I chose 12 Women and I chose them on the basis of the diversity of where they did their work and on the kinds of work they were doing. I wanted to represent all of the issues: Environmental Rights, Food, Land and Seed Justice, Reproductive Justice, Labor Rights, Sexual Violence in the DR Congo, Indigenous Rights. I wanted to make sure I had Women from all continents and from across the Globe. Natalia was the first Portrait I painted and now there would be 11 others.

This project officially started in 2010 and I left my three cooking jobs to put my full attention to this enormous adventure. This was a terrifying step and I was very grateful to get support from my mentor and friend Tuti Scott, who helped me to formulate a plan for beginning to fund this work. In April of 2010 I was given a $5000 grant from the Giant Steps Foundation to help me on my way. I simplified my life and put all of my funds and attention on this new project which would be called Roots To Resistance.

In these past three years I have painted Afghan Activist Malalai Joya who came and spoke in front of her Roots Portrait at Smith College in 2012. With her help we created a postcard campaign demanding an end to the occupation of her Country and pre-addressed all postcards to President Obama at the White House. Next the Portrait of the amazing Chouchou Namegabe, a Journalist going to the most dangerous places in DR Congo to record the voices, stories and testimonies of Women and Girls. The postcard Campaign created for Chouchou and the DR Congo are meant to open People’s eyes, with stories and information and to raise money for Chouchou and her grass roots Organization AFEM.  Also painted were Reproductive Rights Activist Rebecca Gomperts of the Netherlands, The Zapatista Women of Chiapas Mexico, Treeplanter Wangari Maathai of Kenya and Democracy Activist Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma.

All have been depicted in eight foot high Portraits, in ways that are meant to translate their stories, their profoundly important work and the vast array of emotions that have accompanied them on their journeys. The Portraits are meant to be portals through these Women and into their Communities, Resistance Movements and to all of their colleagues and fellow Activists doing work along side of them. Postcard Campaigns have been created for each one of these Portraits.The postcards are sent through a network of over 75 Roots To Resistance Partner Organizations from around the World, everyone from the Greenbelt Movement and AWID to the tiny Fiji Women’s Rights Group have participated to spread this work. These Organizations receive all materials free and help us to bring them into the hands of Community members across the Globe. The campaigns we create are meant to inform the World Community about these Women and are meant to address the issues that the Women and their Communities are fighting for and against. The postcards are meant to inform, inspire and even enrage. The goal is not so much about changing policies or systems, the goal and my hope is that they give People a voice and a small step toward action as the postcard is mailed to it’s destination. They arrive at real destinations, they are not shared in a virtual web space but sent physically into the hands of another and this small step can be a very powerful act.

In these last three years the project has grown so much. Roots To Resistance has begun creating street posters for all 12 Activists so that we can create avenues of resistance, inspiration and information in Public spaces. We send them out free with our postcards and People put them up on the streets and in their Communities. The call for postcards and street posters has grown far larger and faster than the Funds we raise to create these campaigns. Roots To Resistance has been honored to receive past funds from so many generous contributors, we have received funds from the Valley Vagina Monologue performances, an enormously successful Kickstarter campaign, house parties and many personal donations. We are profoundly grateful and still there is a recognition that our outreach and fundraising must now expand and grow as well. It is a time of new partnerships and new and exciting directions. Our Fiscal Partner, local Art Organization A.P.E has provided a space for performances and outreach and countless others have helped to promote this work. With four Portraits and campaigns left to create, the time has come to shift some attention toward bringing this work more fully to international Communities and to my own Community here in Western Massachusetts. This will mean more public performances, parades and displays in all facets of the Community. It is a way of gearing up for the adventure which will arrive when the Portraits are complete. A six month cross country Public Art Tour with all 12 Portraits and many thousands of postcards and street posters displayed on board the converted Roots To Resistance Bus!

For now my near future will be filled with the amazing faces, stories and histories of Syrian Journalist Razan Ghazzawi, Maria Gunnoe, Marina Silva, and the unforgettable Vandana Shiva!

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