The fourth annual Daughters of Darkness Virtual Festival & Dark Arts Market held in April was a tremendous success, raising nearly $10,000 for HAWC’s programs. The festival was started by Amber Newberry, owner of Die with Your Boots On. Amber was later joined by Laurie Moran, Amber’s co-owner at FunDead Publications and owner of The Cemeterrarium. The festival is an opportunity to celebrate women who specialize in dark artistries and alternative
businesses, with a portion of the proceeds from vendor sales benefiting HAWC.
For this year’s festival, held virtually in response to the pandemic, HAWC teamed up with Laurie to offer “Weird Women Working for Change: A Q&A with HAWC and Festival Founders,” a play on the Festival’s tagline: “Weird Women Supporting Weird Women.”
Facilitated by HAWC’s Executive Director Sara Stanley, Laurie engaged in a thoughtful discussion with Elisabeth Nash Wrenn, HAWC’s Senior Manager of Educational Programming, about how the Festival’s history of embracing alternative “counter-culture” artisans mirrors HAWC’s mission to disrupt systemic oppression that perpetuates violence against women.
“It’s about women celebrating the strengths of each other and the capacity that we hold, especially when we work collectively. So much of that is about disrupting norms,” said Elisabeth.
The group also explored how living within a patriarchal society normalizes and perpetuates abuse.
When thinking about whether a relationship might be abusive, Elisabeth said: “Ask yourself…is this about making [a survivor’s] world bigger or smaller? And is this about building them up or breaking them down? In unhealthy relationships, over time it’s really about taking freedoms away, and their sense of self and sense of power. It’s really about breaking the spirit. That’s what patriarchal societies are about.”
Though both the Festival and HAWC were started as a space to lift up the voices of women, the festival founders and HAWC stressed that both organizations are here for anyone who might be in need, inclusive of all genders, gender expressions, and other identifying factors.
Laurie sees a natural connection between the survivor experience and what inspires many artisans to hone their crafts. “I think most of us are working through some kind of pain or some internalized notion of what we should or should not be and sometimes getting into the really gory parts of life are an important way to heal,” Laurie said.
Before signing off, the speakers were joined by Georgia Wrenn, age 9, Elisabeth’s daughter and the Festival’s youngest entrepreneur. Georgia and her dad, Chris, together run Georgia Made This, which sells souvenirs and apparel featuring Georgia’s artwork. Georgia regularly supports organizations like HAWC through her business venture. Elisabeth and Chris got Georgia involved in the Festival and local philanthropy early on to show her she can make a difference.
To Georgia, Laurie, Amber, and all of the artisans and entrepreneurs that are part of the Daughters of Darkness Festival, we thank you for celebrating being weird, working for change and supporting survivors of domestic violence! If you would like to watch the full video of our event, visit facebook.com/SalemDaughtersofDarkness.