Interview: La Nouvelle Femme ladies

A&E chats with members from the all-girl artist collective about their second annual show.

The luminous ladies of La Nouvelle Femme

The luminous ladies of La Nouvelle Femme PHOTO COURTESY LA NOUVELLE FEMME

by Kara Nesvig

La Nouvelle Femme WHERE: Varsity Theater WHEN: Sep. 18 TIME: 8 p.m. TICKETS: $8 pre-show, $10 at door If you pay the $8 to attend the upcoming MNFashion event La Nouvelle Femme, an all-girl artist collective showcase, get ready to experience the evocative photography of Hillary Berg and abstract artwork of Torey Bonar (yes, sister of Haley). YouâÄôll see fashion fantasies courtesy of local darlings Calpurnia Peach and newbie Frances Zerr, soundtracked to the music of Bella Koshka and Hildur Victoria. A&E chatted with a few behind-the-scenes ladies about their upcoming show and what to expect from these âÄúnew women.âÄù Ashley and Luci [of Calpurnia Peach] and Margaret, you are three of the founders of La Nouvelle Femme. Tell me a little about its origins. Luci Kandler: We started [La Nouvelle Femme] with Margaret and Ema C. Cook because we were all starting our careers in the different fields, and we were trying to figure out a way to collaborate and build a strong movement. Ashley Wokasch: We were using each other as an inspiration. Luci: [The first show, at Rogue Buddha Gallery] was really small. For this one we wanted to up the ante. It was really fun and summery, and we want that feel to come into this one. Margaret Lane: We came up with this kind of obscure female-oriented integrated event. Ashley: Last summer was more of us wanting to stay inspired in the summertime. Everyone kind of puts their passions on hold as they, you know, go to the fair, and this summer I think itâÄôs more of a real career step for all of us. Showing at the Varsity is a big deal. How is this going to be presented to an audience, since youâÄôve got paintings, photos, fashion shows and music all together? Luci: WhatâÄôs important for people to understand is that yes, this is a collaboration, but we want to make sure each part gets the attention it deserves. The real feel of this is moving from one thing to the next with a smooth transition, and the really strong feeling of wanderlust embedded into everything you see. âÄúWanderlustâÄù is this yearâÄôs theme. How did that come about and how are each of you expressing it? Luci: The idea of wanderlust really encapsulated all these ideas into one. ItâÄôs this traveler idea, this nighttime feeling. Hillary Berg: Photography can be a bit more literal, especially with subject matter. IâÄôm doing a series of domestic subjects in a natural environment, seeing the contrast between how we live and where we actually came from. Torey Bonar: I set up my studio and sat in the middle of my space with some sage, burnt it and tried to bring that energy in there. I work from inside out with my surroundings. Margaret: I think ours reflects a play between the theme and our music, an ambient dreamy sort of feel. The lyrics that I write are mostly connected to nature, the same organic theme. New girls, how did you get involved this year and why did you want to get involved? Frances Zerr, [previously employed at The Minnesota Daily]: I met Ashley and Luci in a [friendâÄôs] kitchen in the middle of the night. They took me under their wing. I just moved back from New York and havenâÄôt been involved with the fashion scene, so this is a great way for me to get involved and in touch with girls my age doing really wildly creative stuff. Margaret, on Hillary: Instantly when I saw her work, thereâÄôs a certain aesthetic, a certain sort of personality type. Torey: I was involved last year, modeled, saw behind the scenes. It was really cool especially for young female artists to do that. WeâÄôre all looking for somewhere to go, someone to tell us whatâÄôs next. As artists, thereâÄôs no manual that says, âÄúHere, this is how you be an artist.âÄù ItâÄôs a DIY business. What do you hope La Nouvelle Femme will do for young female artists? Hillary: ItâÄôs a great push for emerging artists. ThereâÄôs an aspect thatâÄôs very independent. ItâÄôs a collective, but you have to pull your own weight. Margaret: WeâÄôre willing to take care of every aspect of the show. There is an element of femininity. ItâÄôs not uppity in any way, but itâÄôs showcasing that there are young talented females out there. Torey: It could be the next Clapperclaw; it could be the next Voltage. WeâÄôve recruited, so hopefully next year itâÄôll be even bigger. For more information on La Nouvelle Femme, including what to expect from designers Frances Zerr and Calpurnia Peach, visit the A&E blog.