Lady Justice, Lady Power

Lady Justice rises above the skyline along the freeway. You might notice her as you are making your way north out of Houston, just as you pass the Aquarium. You might glance to your right and see her mighty stance, her afro, the blindfold across her eyes, scales of justice in one hand and a sword in the other. She looks over Congress Plaza, and she reminds us of systematic racial injustice. She is an inspiration designed to make you think and feel, to reflect on women’s ability to affect social change. And on this warm June afternoon, we have an occasion to come visit her, to pay her homage by trying to capture her in digital form.
As we stood on the street corner to get the best view, a unique piece of architecture across the street caught our eye. It was a narrow white building with red and green trim and a green spire. A patio area stretched out in the back and seemed to go on for a city block. We wandered in and found a beautiful green and flowered wall. Words in neon pink spelled out “Las mujeres no lloran, las mujeres facturan”, which translated means roughly, “Women don’t cry anymore, women monetize”. It’s a line from a recent Shakira song. Essentially it means, women don’t spent time crying over lost love, they make money off of their pain. It speaks to the sense of a woman’s self-worth, that she will rise above those who want to hurt her and find the advantage in her position.

On the way back to our car, Leilani told us stories of helping others get to the Family Law Center. It reminded her of one of her idols, a powerful woman named Poppy who was an advocate for personal freedom. This woman started out working at NASA in the early years, even earning a Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work on Apollo 13. She felt a call to leave that career behind to become a lawyer who held domestic abusers accountable and looked after young people who needed help. She helped women stand up for their right to determine their own choices, to give them access to opportunities and resources, and grant them the power to control their own lives.

Found on the wall in Hardy & Nance Studios “Coyote Woman”

After this, we headed to the main event: a Portraits in June art exhibit at Hardy & Nance Studios. Our first studio stop was for drinks, but our second stop led us to Kiki Neumann. Kiki is a folk artist who makes art out of recycled materials, mostly license plates these days. She found her way to artistic expression almost thirty years ago. She was feeling lost after losing a corporate job, and was encouraged to pick up a hammer and make something. And then she did, thereby taking ownership of her own life. This first product, a bench, gave her a sense of accomplishment and energized her to do more. Her art provided her a way to make something beautiful out of the outcasts of human life. She was eager to greet her fans and encourage them to like and share her work, and even blessed us with a sign encouraging people to vote. Her actions remind us that art can be a powerful way to connect and relate to others.

A Portrait of Kiki

On our way into the rest of the exhibits, we continued to connect with each other and even strangers by placing two of our hands on a particular structure and hold hands to form an electric circuit. I took photographs of one of our friends walking through the painted hallway, marveling at how her appearance seemed to be matched and enhanced by the colors. We wandered through the art exhibits for a little over an hour, looking for pictures of naked girls for one of us to decorate her bathroom with. When women experience their body viewed through the eyes of an artist, it can lead them to a place of acceptance and help them to see their true beauty, the way our friend felt when she viewed the photos we took of her in the hallway.

True Beauty

As we reached the main gallery, a woman approached us to ask if we were all together. She explained that she had really wanted to participate in the portrait activity, where you paint a portrait of another, but you had to be paired up to do the activity and she was here solo. This was a woman who was not afraid to advocate for what she wanted, even to total strangers. I offered to pair up with her, despite having very little experience with painting. The paintings had to completed in fifteen minutes, so there was no time to worry about getting it exactly right. I sat in front of the easel, not even being quite sure where to start. She asked if I was a painter, and I told her “No, I am a poet”. Interesting choice, choosing to define myself in this way. The experience of creating this portrait allowed me to see how a stranger viewed and depicted me, and my expression helped me understand how I viewed myself. Through the experience of completing a task outside my comfort zone, I felt more confident and powerful.

The Stranger Painter and I

After this, we made our way out and over to Saint Arnold Brewing Company. There was a Summer Solstice Festival going on, hosted by a company called Thorn and Moon Apothecary. After we secured a table in the shade under the shelter of the roof on the patio, we ordered beer and food and made merry. One of my friends and I stepped out to check out the vendor booths. When we reached the booth for Thorn and Moon, someone called out my name. I realized it was a friend of mine from school, Jessica, who I had hired to be our wedding photographer 11 years ago. She was an entrepreneur now, the proprietor of her own business and organizer of festivals such as this. I remembered there had been a fire at the place of her business, years ago, and I had thought that it had a negative impact on her business. In fact, it had done the opposite, and allowed her to grow even stronger. There lies real power in owning and growing your own dreams, in creating your own destiny, forming your own empire. She is now well-known in the metaphysical shop world in this city, and in fact even a new friend of mine from across town recognized her from the photo I posted and knew her as the shop owner.


I reflect on the connection of all these powerful women: Lady Justice, Shakira, Poppy, Kiki, Jessica, even the stranger painter and these three beautiful women I surrounded myself with this night, even myself. We are all emblems of strength and beacons of light. We show each other and other women how to be strong, to value ourselves, help each other stand up against injustice, how to create our own paths, how to be brave and try new things, to step off into the void and walk away from the fire knowing we will rebuild even stronger than before. These women, they are all powerful, and they are all astounding in their own way.

Found on the wall in Hardy & Nance Studios – Coyote Woman Affirmations by Allison Currie

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