Popular ‘Womanish’ pop-up exhibit championing women’s empowerment has been extended

As art galleries across the world have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chicago’s “Womanish” has attracted about 25,000 visitors since its launch in August.

SHARE Popular ‘Womanish’ pop-up exhibit championing women’s empowerment has been extended
“Womanish” co-creators, sisters Dionna (left) and Danyelle Gray launched “The Womanish Small Business Relief Fund” to provide grants to small business owners. 

“Womanish” co-creators, sisters Dionna (left) and Danyelle Gray launched “The Womanish Small Business Relief Fund” to provide grants to small business owners.

Brianna Gray Photo

A popular exhibit empowering women — and those who identify themselves as women — launched amid the COVID-19 pandemic has announced an extension.

“Womanish,” a pop-up exhibit at 114 S. State St., that celebrates women’s perspectives via a multi-level immersive experience, has been extended through Jan. 31, 2021. The exhibit, which adheres to social distancing guidelines, offers contemporary, thought-provoking art. Tickets can be purchased on the exhibit’s website.

As art galleries across the world have seen their numbers decrease due to COVID-19 shutdowns, “Womanish” has, to date, has attracted 25,000 vistiors; 30,000 tickets have been sold since September, according to exhibit co-creators, sisters Danyelle and Dionna Gray.

“We’re really blessed and excited that we just had so much great feedback,” said Dionna Gray. “There are people who’ve walked up to us crying, saying they had never felt so empowered. … We feel very blessed to have been able to do this in the midst of a pandemic.”

5F5B2676_5A5C_4ACC_9648_ECDA698AD47D.jpeg

The “Womanish” pop-up exhibit has sold about 30,000 tickets since September, according to co-creators, sisters Danyelle and Dionna Gray.

Evan F. Moore/Sun-Times

The exhibit’s success — the duo aims to take “Womanish” to other cities — has afforded the Gray sisters the chance to launch “The Womanish Small Business Relief Fund” to provide grants to small business owners, with businesses owned by Black women given priority.

And that success for the sisters has come with the price of doing business as Black women.

“Danielle and I are Black female entrepreneurs, and we’ve had a lot of doors closed on us just because of implicit bias where they just don’t think you’re capable of executing the way you think you are executing,” said Gray. “Statistically, women of color are granted business loans 30 percent less than any other group of women; we just want to prioritize women of color because you know we do receive funding at a lower rate than anyone else does.”

Danyelle Gray echoes her sister’s sentiments on transitioning the exhibit’s success to assist women of color who need a boost in creating business opportunities for themselves and their communities.

“We’re excited in 2021 to have a full-scale nonprofit to give back to the community,” said Danyelle Gray. “Because this was very community-driven, our success is thanks to our community, so that’s something we’re really excited to journey on in 2021.”

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