Artist Liss LaFleur, a University of North Texas assistant professor of new media art, worked with a group of students to sort through more than 10,000 #MeToo tweets. After narrowing them down to 111 tweets, LaFleur discovered powerful and personal narratives that read like confessions.
“I’m interested in the ways #MeToo affects the lives of everyday people," LaFleur says.
LaFleur's ongoing creative endeavor won her an Immersive Scholarship Residency at North Carolina State University, where she will spend six weeks this summer researching and creating content for large digital walls at the university’s Hunt Library.
“I plan to create a collection of immersive video animations that illuminate current social trends surrounding sexual assault," she says. "This work will tell a powerful human story apart from celebrity feminism, through color, scale and shape.”
Born into a family of artists in Humble, Texas, LaFleur spent a great deal of time in her mother’s studio, where her mother worked on tall stained-glass windows.
“I’d get to hold every individual piece up to the light after she’d cut it and look closely at the color and detail," LaFleur says. "This was a very formative experience for me.”
She went on to study studio and art history at UNT and pursued a Master of Fine Arts in media art at Emerson College with a focus on creative nonfiction storytelling. Now, LaFleur is an assistant professor in the Department of Studio Art at UNT's College of Visual Arts and Design.
“As a media artist, my work questions current political, sociocultural and gender norms, with a particular emphasis on exploring the relationship between technology, digital identity and future feminism," LaFleur says. "Through video, experimental animation, web art, fabricated extensions of the body and creative coding, I question how queerness can act as a technology, changing, adapting and unraveling as a revolutionary material.”
For the past four years, LaFleur has been “working on ideas to combine my own experience of stained glass, through my mother, into my digital practice as an artist,” she says. Her glass sculptural work and her first window animation, “The Young Are at the Gates,” are on exhibit at Dallas’ Galleri Urbane.
"This piece combines a text from the suffragette movement with a window design inspired by my mother’s," LaFleur says.
LaFleur says Tarana Burke, an activist from Harlem, began the Me Too movement more than 10 years ago.
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“It was to aid underprivileged women of color affected by sexual abuse and act as a signal of mutual support and solidarity between survivors of sexual abuse and assault," she says. "It has since taken on a second life in the mainstream as #MeToo, often through the voices of celebrities who claim feminism as a commodity. It is important to look at who is leading this movement, what their background is, and if narratives are intersectional or privileged."
LaFleur says the #MeToo movement needs to include everyone in order to create lasting change.
“These problems are systemic, generational and disproportionately affect women and people of color," LaFleur says. "The movement must be inclusive to succeed, and this includes the voices of all women and a hard look at oppression, toxic masculinity and the fetishization of othered bodies."
As for her project, it “would only be successful if and when there is no longer any data to enter,” she says.