Womxn Who Rock 2017: Water is Life

The following is an introspective made by students of the class Feminism in the Borderlands at the University of Washington; it is a summary of 5 students’ experience at the un-conference.


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Professor Jade Power-Sotomayor leading Bomba on February 11 2017 at the Womxn Who Rock (Un)Conference in Washington Hall, Seattle, WA. Photo Credit: Afomia Assefa

Tags: Women Who Rock, Building Communities

Photo Explanation

We choose this picture because it is clear convivencia in action. Everyone is learning together and instead of having a teacher at the front talking down to students, she is equal footing with the students while she educates them. People are learning from each other in what is clearly a very safe space, where making mistakes is not punished or frowned upon. You can see the feeling of fiesta through the amount of people and their colorful skirts – this uplifting energy was felt throughout this whole information sharing session. It’s also a very powerful picture because the participants are clearly ignoring and surpassing gender norms; everyone is having a good time and binaries do not matter.

Category Explanation

The category of this picture falls under Making Scenes: Scene Makers, as she is performing on the stage and leading others by example to dance Bomba. Jade Sotomayor is a professor at the University of Washington Bothell and emphasizes the influence of dance and music into the social world of politics and ethnicity and vice versa.


Julie Olivos’ Altar Construction (pictured on the right) on February 11 2017 at the Womxn Who Rock (Un)Conference in Washington Hall, Seattle, WA. Photo Credit: Afomia Assefa

Tags: Women Who Rock, Building Communities, Making Scenes

Photo Explanation

We chose this picture because it represents the collective altar construction of not just our group, but everyone in the course. Altar making is a communal activity and we are reminded of that in this picture as you can see everyone’s work came together and created the wonderful amalgams of our personal lives that are visible in the altars. The strong presence of Frida Kahlo was also important in this picture as it represents Frida’s strong radical influence in Mexican art. Our altares were meant to be be equally radical in that we reclaimed our spaces and fought binaries, homophobia, sexism, and patriarchy: all things that have held our communities down for so long.

Category Explanation

The collective Altar that was built by our class and by Julie resembles the theme of Building Communities. Although it is not a specific form of music or performance, it is a form of art and spirituality that demonstrates coming together and providing a safe environment while inviting our ancestors to attend the Women Who Rock (un)Conference.


Liveblog Links:








Liveblog: 5:35 pm

The events so far have been spectacular; the initial blessings were beautiful and touching, while the Women’s Steel Drum performance immediately brought the already high energy to a breaking point. The speak back about standing rock followed, and although it was physically and auditorily a lot less explosive, the energy in the room was not permitted to drop. The seriousness channeled the present enthusiasm into the main purpose of women who rock: making a change. Each speaker built upon the last, and after it was done I (and doubtlessly most the room) was far more educated on Standing Rock and inspired to go out and do more. Immediately we transitioned to the more lighthearted workshops, and I feel like this back and forth epitomizes the Unconference: a space for people to come together, for change in the world and for reveling in their identities.

Liveblog: 3:08 pm

The altar is finished, and everything went smoothly! Coming in from an unusually sunny and beautiful Seattle day, the energy in the building was palpable, and construction was a blast. Although our groups could handle it on our own, at no point in the process did the other spectacular volunteers stop offering to help, and they aided in created a beautiful display that exceeded all of my expectations. As I look around the space after finishing my task, I’m astounded by the amount of people here, and I’m excited too. The stage is full of musicians setting up; vendors and their beautiful wares have all the tienditas ready; and the pulse of life I felt when I entered has only gotten stronger. I cannot wait for the event proper to begin!