Vermont Arts Council

The People’s Choice Award: Ashley Strobridge

76: Ashley Strobridge

Create a book on early anti-racist, progressive suffragette, Matilda Joslyn Gage

Growing up in the woods of VT, I had fairy tea parties on mossy boulders w/ my sisters, making up stories to escape our difficult childhood. I would read the Oz stories & others to escape into a beautiful world, & write my own stories & create art for hours on end. Throughout my life I’ve sought justice through being a writer, artist, activist, & public servant, & always speaking up about injustices. W/ degrees in Environmental & Women’s Studies, & an education in Photo, Studio Art, Literature, Policy, Comm. & Social Justice, I’ve written & created art all my life, & worked in the fields of policy, media & the arts w/ a desire to not only create & shine a light on the beauty in this world, & to help preserve the Nature that surrounds, supports, & is within us, but also to uncover & correct the injustices that oppress. After years in the Enviro Policy field, in 2020, my disabilities: Bipolar, ADHD, CPTSD, & LH Covid brought me to pivot towards working for myself in Astrobridge Artistry.

Project description

I spent hours of my youth being inspired by, the Matriarchal world of the Oz books by L. Frank Baum, which were inspired by the anti-racist, Intersectional Feminist Suffragette Leader, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Baum’s mother-in-law.  Matilda was an astounding & groundbreaking woman who was in a trio w/ Susan B. Anthony & E. Cady Stanton, leading the fight for Women’s Suffrage, & doing much of the work, but was written out of history for being too Progressive! She fought for Women’s Rights, but also for rights for all oppressed groups. An abolitionist, her homes both as a child & adult were on the Underground Railroad; she was such an advocate for American Indigenous tribes that the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), called her “She Who Holds Up the Sky;” she was a staunch proponent of the separation of church & state, unlike many of her peers (she wrote a 554 pg. book on the history of the oppression of women under Christianity-influenced govts called “Woman, Church, & State”); & she even fought for animal rights (in the 1800’s!), & lastly, Matilda & her feminist beliefs were the inspiration for not only the matriarchal society & feminist characters of the Oz Series (the books are MUCH more feminist than the 1938 movie musical), but also for Baum recording the stories down in books at all, (she was the one who told him to write down the Oz stories he told to his children as bedtime stories, & publish them). These facts are integral to my book, as I will shape the storyline of the book around how Matilda’s life story, & themes & storylines from the Oz books, especially the Wizard of Oz, overlap & intertwine. The resulting work will be a middle grade children’s book about Matilda Joslyn Gage, complete w/ chapter-head artwork, including copies of my own photographs, paintings, & illustrations. There will also be my own original poetry interspersed in appropriate areas of the book, inspired by both Matilda & the Oz Series, which is a gift that the world would not have without her.

Media Sample 1

This is a rough outline of some of the chapter themes of my book on Matilda, how they are represented with themes from the famous Oz series of books.

Media Sample 2

This is a selection of photos that will be chapter head art, and is representative of Oz themes, intertwined with events from Matilda’s life.

Media Sample 3

My best writing sample on influential women obscured from HIStory, like Matilda. It’s on Alice Guy-Blache & her contemporaries who founded Hollywood.

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Desmond Peeples August 23, 2023