Featuring the highest peaks in all of Texas, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is also home to the world’s most extensive Permian fossil reef. This is our final National Park of 2019, and it has it all: mountains, waterfalls, extensive hiking trails, wildlife…
Who doesn’t love the Hobbits, those adorable and tenacious humanoids from JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy? Who wouldn’t love to celebrate Frodo and Bilbo Baggins’ shared birthday with a big party, complete with food, friends, fireworks, and frivolity? Indulging in elevenses, entering their cozy Hobbit holes, and hearing Frodo and Bilbo regale us with tales of their very un-Hobbity adventures? Well, we can all celebrate on September 22nd, which, along with being the birthday of the two most adventurous Hobbits the Shire has ever seen, is also celebrated as Hobbit Day, smack-dab in the middle of Tolkien week.
In Tolkien’s writing, Hobbits, which are about half the size of humans, are often referred to as Halflings. Our Halfling colorway plays homage to these very special Hobbits that captured our imaginations as children (and adults). The Hobbit was written as a children’s book, and is a wonderful adventure to share with the kiddos in your life. We listened to it as a family on a long road trip, and mine were captivated by it. I remember the first time I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a young adult; I cried, because I was so sad I would never read it for the first time again. If you haven’t read the books, we highly recommend you do. And, on September 22nd, indulge in a bit of the Hobbit life, if you will, in honor of the magic that Tolkien shared with us.
We’d love to introduce you to Joana Choumali. Her Awoulaba/Taille Fine project is so amazing, and the statement it makes about beauty standards and ideals is so powerful, that we had to share it with you all for our September HerStory. The image that most inspired the Crafted Perfection colorway we created is the final image of the project linked here: http://joanachoumali.com/index.php/projects/photography/awoulaba-taille-fine.
Joana Choumali is a visual artist based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire whose work often explores issues of identity and womanhood, mostly in African culture. She is currently delving into the use of embroidery over photography as a medium, and her most recent work is a stunning look at a town in trauma, as well as an inspiring artistic marriage of two different crafty art mediums. For HerStory, however, it’s her Awoulaba/Taille Fine project that grabbed us, and the statements the project makes about standards of beauty across the world.
Awoulaba/Taille Fine explores the variances in standards of beauty among African and American/Western cultures using images of “perfect” body parts and Awoulaba mannequins all mixed together as indicators of a culture’s prevailing beauty ideals. In the early 2010s in Africa, mannequins began being produced/crafted that reflected a more African standard of beauty: wider hips, fuller breasts, heavier arms and legs. Called “Awoulaba,” meaning “Beauty Queens,” these mannequins were so unlike the more common “Taille Fine” (a term used to describe a more Western standard of beauty) mannequins usually seen that they inspired this project. The project blends the two in a way that is both jarring and beautiful. Choumali juxtaposed images of body parts of women in popular culture who embody different combinations of the two standards, making a powerful statement about aspirational beauty and the damage it can do. She asks of viewers the question: why are we aspiring to the generic, mannequin-like perfection society wants us to? Why not celebrate our uniqueness instead? And maybe most importantly, who is the keeper of the standards? From her website:
“They evoke the venus celebrities who embody perfect beauty in popular culture: Kim Kardashian (the white Awoulaba); Nikki Minaj (the light skinned Awoulaba); Naomi Campbell (the black Taille Fine); Lupita Niango (the black Taille Fine); and Beyonce (the light skinned Awoulaba).”
We hope you take some time to explore Joana Choumali’s visual art, and that we all realize that those standards of beauty that we aspire to are baloney.