This morning, the CSW61 NGO Consultation Day is taking place at The Kaye Playhouse, Hunter College, New York, and hot off the press is the NGO CSW61 Handbook, with a cover design by Soroptimist, Villy Makou. Here we talk to Villy to find out more about her design, and her inspiration for this fresh and original artwork which seized the judges attention, and won the 2017 cover design competition.
Why did you apply for the competition?
“I participated in the competition of the NGO CSW61 Handbook Cover Design Contest after SI President Yvonne Simpson informed me about the open call to artists. I am really thankful; her dedication to our vision and mission is an inspiration for me. It is my pleasure and honour to contribute in any way possible to our Organization.
As a painter and Soroptimist I have been particularly concerned with women’s rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls through Education. In the last years I have been actively working on these subjects. My upcoming exhibition is entitled ‘’Say NO with a flower’’ and will be exploring the theme of ‘’violence against women and girls’’ including the violence in the world of work which is a serious impediment to women’s economic empowerment”.
What was the inspiration for your design?
“Soroptimist International acted as the main source of inspiration behind this design, specifically the structure of working together within a spirit of cooperation, aiming to transform the lives and status of women and girls through education, empowerment and enabling opportunities.
The wheel, also known as ‘gear’, requires this state of cooperation in order to start moving. At a personal level, it symbolizes the power of collaboration and teamwork while turning towards women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.
The woman in the design occupies the central position. Her foot on the left part of the gear indicates that she is leaving behind existing achievements. She is aware that despite tremendous progress women and girls are still not receiving the same opportunities as men and boys.
However, stepping on the right part of the gear she faces forward, into the future and ‘her right to work and at work’. She moves to the pole position in the race for Sustainable Development and the Agenda 2030, knowing that by 2030 all women and girls must have full access to their rights, to live free of violence, coercion and discrimination, with equal access to education, health care, decent work, representation in political and economic decision-making processes and to play a full and equal role in building society and ending poverty”.
How do you feel about winning and seeing your design on the front cover?
“As a woman, painter and Soroptimist I feel extremely honoured and pleased to contribute to a great cause.
I strongly believe that Art can be a powerful activism tool toward raising awareness and educating about women`s rights. Art is also an excellent form of media to get the message across; the message of gender equality”.
Villy Makou studied Fine Arts, Painting at Ecole Supérieure des Beaux Arts in Bourges, France and continued her studies at the Athens Superior School of Fine Arts where she also completed a Master in Theory and History of Art.
During the period of 1987 to 1992 she lived and worked in Paris. Pierre Gaudibert, founder of ARC and director of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris wrote the preface for her first personal exhibition in Paris at the Galerie Lavignes-Bastille (1991). She has presented her work in numerous personal and collective exhibitions while some of her paintings are held in private collections and museums in France, Greece, Cyprus and further afield.
Since 1998, she has been actively involved in Soroptimist International, as an active member of SIE Club Kifisia-Ekali, Athens of the Greek Union, where she has served in various leadership roles ranging from Coordinator of Education to Club President. As a Soroptimist she has organized many art workshops for disadvantaged children encouraging them to develop their self confidence and leadership skills through art education (SOS Children’s Village, Athens, Greece) Today, she lives and works between Athens and Paris.