Newsletter | Sep/Oct 2021

Women we should know about
by Mui Ho

When I get together with friends and colleagues, we talk about books, work, current events and interesting things or new designs that grab our attention. Oddly, when it comes to accomplishments, men’s names seem to crop up first. The reasons are numerous and is a subject explored by many scholars in various disciplines.

Two stories in the news about women recently caught my attention and I thought I would share them.
The most powerful woman in the world steps down

After almost 16 years Angela Merkel will step down as Chancellor of Germany following elections on Sept 26, 2021. It follows her decision in 2018 not to run as the leader of her CDU party, and hence not to become Chancellor for a fifth term. In the absence of American leadership under Trump, she had become the de facto leader of the free world, arguably the most powerful woman (and competent leader) thus far in the 21st century.

An anonymous, viral internet post about her CDU farewell speech in 2018 captures he respect felt by much of the world for a job well done:

    “During these 18 years of her leadership authority in her country, no transgressions of political power were ever recorded against her. She did not assign any of her relatives to a government position. She did not claim that she was the maker of glories. She did not get millions of euros in commission payments, nor did she hire or compel anyone to cheer her performance. She did not receive charters and pledges, and she did not fight those who preceded her. In 2021, Merkel elected to step down, not attempt to get a fifth term as the Chancellor of Germany, left the party leadership position and handed it over to those who came after her, with Germany and its German people in the best condition ever.

    The reaction of the Germans was unprecedented in the history of the Country. The entire population went out to their balconies of their houses and clapped for her spontaneously for six continuous minutes. A standing ovation nationwide. Germany stood as one body bidding farewell to their leader, a chemical physicist who was not tempted by the fashions or the fancy lights and who did not buy real estate, cars, yachts and private planes. She was always well aware of the fact that she is from former East Germany. "

She leaves not just popular in Germany, but the most approved politician in the world. It is just one more indication, known since Eden by women but only now being scientifically proved, that women are simply better leaders.

And now, no longer inhibited by the need appease conservative sentiments to get things done, she has for the first time acknowledged, "Ja, Ich bin Feministin".
Artist Yayoi Kusama

a facination with nature

Yayoi Kusama, now 92 years old, is one of the most famous artists of her generation. Her recent installation at the New York Botanical Garden has won the hearts of art critics and the public alike. Kusama was born in 1929 in Nagano Prefecture, Japan where her family ran a seed company.

In a recent article, writer Salome Gómez-Upegui showcases "Yayoi Kusama’s Fascination with Nature". She writes: "Legendary artist Yayoi Kusama is a global sensation. She has paved the way for Minimalism, Pop art, performance art, and immersive art installations. And her radical works featuring pumpkins, flowers, polka dots, loops, and mirrors excavating ideas of self-obliteration, fear, and infinity have attracted massive audiences to prestigious art institutions around the world."

I encountered one of her pumpkins first hand while visiting the Benesse Art Site on the island of Naoshima in Japan's Inland Sea. While art pundits tend to look for deep meanings in her work, it was the sheer spirit of playfulness and visual delight, the astounded eye of a child great artists often bring to their work, that I find most attractive.

the mother of the immersive art movemnt