Orenda: Using Art to Tell Women’s Stories & Inspire Action

empower women through art

Edica Pacha is a multimedia artist whose latest project combines portrait photography, public art, storytelling, and activism. Through “Orenda”, she is creating platform for sharing women’s stories and empowering all of us to feel heard, validated and less alone. We asked Pacha to talk about what inspires her art and why she wanted to focus on women for this project.

LYD: How would you describe yourself and your art?

EP: I began creating art on the streets when I was 21 (around 1999). At the time I lived in a half-built warehouse in a rough and tumble neighborhood, and our crew developed an underground art scene that became known as Soulciety. We would run around the streets and put up stickers, paste up art, and found that in these public spaces we could reach a lot of people and have the greatest impact. I remember when our sticker campaign made the TV news, and we realized that we were pushing on something bigger than ourselves.

My creative work has always had an element of social engagement. From festival production to clothing design, I have always had an interest in audience participation. I spent 15 years creating archetypal clothing and installations within creative venues that allowed others to express and experiment beyond the everyday world. That empower people to understand a deeper part of themselves.

Now I work primarily in photography, and for over 25 years I’ve photographed the multi-dimensional feminine experience. Using a unique double exposure in camera technique, I think my photography accesses a deep sense of ancestral nature, as well as layers of texture and archetypal experience. I refer to these as SOUL PORTRAITS. These images investigate depth. Having to look past the layers, and find meaning and purpose beyond what we see in everyday life.

LYD: Tell us about your latest project and how that came about.

EP: I started working on Orenda about 3 years ago. “Orenda” [oh-ren-duh] is an idea from the Iroquois Indians that speaks to the extraordinary, invisible power inherent in people and their environment—the place inside each person that wants to create positive impact in the world.

This project seeks to inspire opportunities for women to come together to question, consult, and create around this concept of inner power. The foundation of Orenda is to use photography to inspire critical thinking, cultivate empowerment, give rise to voice, and explore our responsibility and purpose as humans.

LYD: What’s something you’ve learned while creating this women-centered art?

EP: One of the most impactful things for me so far, has been to witness women ‘being seen’. ‘Being seen’ allows for women to have voice in a time where many voices get lost. Some people don’t have the resources, or the capacity to put themselves out there. Some women are afraid. Yet I find that deep inside of each person is a desire to share some part of themselves. By sharing our voices, stories, and desires, there is powerful vulnerability and a connection to the greater community.

When one person shares their story, they have the capacity to reflect and mirror another person’s story, which in turn has the capacity to make people feel heard, validated, and less alone.

LYD: Once you have these photographs of the women, you install them as large scale photographic murals in public. What’s your intention behind that?

EP: Turning alleys into galleries, step outside of constructed art world, in the grit and edge of everyday life, we can reach more people. Installing large scale photographic murals can serve as a reclamation of space, weaving storytelling into the urban landscape, while also celebrating the multicultural faces of the community.

By making art in the streets, I believe this is an opportunity to weave together cities, and global communities, through building a collective story of where we come from and the future we would like to see.

LYD: Thanks for sharing with us! One last question. What is your dream?

Through Orenda Arts, my dream is to share the stories of women from across the world, bringing together the beauty of photography, the power of street art, and the stories of humanity.

I’d invite everyone to consider: what is your Orenda, your extraordinary inner purpose and power?

Edica Pacha‘s love affair with creativity began with film photography, and long hours in the darkroom, at the age of 14. She took this gift and studied further at Rhode Island School of Design and Prescott College. During this time she expanded into video, installation and performance art. Her studies took her deep into the power of creativity and how this impacted community. Currently, Pacha creates large scale photographic murals using a unique ‘layered in camera’ photographic style, that explores the mystical and mysterious sides of the feminine.  She is interested in creating opportunities for ‘humans to be seen’ and vulnerabilities to be shared, while connecting deeply through Social Art and street art practices. Check out more of Pacha’s work at www.edicapacha.com and on Instagram @edicapacha.

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