Spotlight: She is a Catalyst

Last week we printed and bound 200 copies of She is a Catalyst, a zine made in collaboration with Forest Gate Community School girls and Rabbits Road Institute coordinator Laura Owen.  Laura tells us about the work and the project. 

She is a Catalyst documents some of the work and discussions that emerged from an 8-week project with 12 girls aged 14 - 15 yrs from Forest Gate Community School. The group took part in a variety of activities exploring their ideas and ambitions for the future. For one of the workshop sessions that took place at Rabbits Road Press, the group learned how to create there own riso prints based on artwork they had made considering the overlap between creativity and science. Inspired by the work of Robert Rauschenberg, an artist whose work experimented with and explored these subject areas, the group made artworks which were inspired by research into leading females in the field of science, technology, engineering and math. The girls explored what their own future pathways might be and thought about how gender can influence career choices.

Taisa De Sousa Calado (15 years) is from Forest Gate Community School, she took part in the project and writes about her experience below: 

The project I have taken part in focused on the relationship between STEM jobs, Women in these jobs and how maths, art, science and technology are linked together. Making art and a large canvas was probably my favourite part. This is because I had a chance to do something I wouldn't usually do... expressing myself.

While creating my canvas I didn't necessarily know the exact meaning I was going for, I followed my intuition. I felt like I was expressing myself and it was really quite pleasing. I mixed colours to my own taste and experimented with a range of materials while being conscious of what I was doing still.

I must say that it was also very different from making art at school. This is mainly focused on meeting certain criterias and requires students to stick to a specific topic. The main topic we have been exploring during this project has been women who are involved in STEM jobs and how in many ways this makes them a catalyst. A catalyst is a word used in Scienceto describe a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction. In the case of this project we used it to describe women who are changing societies reactions. Women who are destroying the gender stereotypes in society. 

This is the case because even though women are perfectly capable of doing jobs in STEM, just like men are, it is evident that perhaps women don't feel like they can. To me this is devastating, we need inspiring women like Zaha Hadid, Maggie Aderin-Pocockand May Jemison to be presented to young women to show us that they CAN take on jobs in STEM and break these harmful stereotypes. This is why we are pleased to have been part of this project, to make art expressing our ideas andcontributing to our zine called 'She is a Catalyst’.