Prior to founding the “media for social change platform” — as she describes the nonprofit — Juskowski had spoken to many intelligent, well-educated women who’ve made positive contributions to their communities yet were ashamed to admit they were from Miami. After many such conversations, Juskowski, who’s interested in exploring boundaries between feminism and femininity in her work, developed a manifesto in hopes of liberating Miami women from the stigma associated with the damaging stereotype.
Earlier this year, the Miami Girls Foundation participated in a global public art project called InsideOut that was established in 2011 at the TED conference in California. Miami’s edition places tasteful, larger-than-life photographs of Miami’s female movers and shakers in various locations throughout the city. A statement on the website explains the foundation’s intention: “By featuring portraits of female leaders, we want to show to the world the Miami we know and love and to introduce these leaders to their communities to give them the recognition they deserve.”
In a city where billboards display giant rumps to advertise Brazilian butt-lifts and sexualized kidnap victims to hawk insurance, as New Times recently reported, Juskowski’s work describes the gender politics that influence image-making.
“People decide what the city is through symbolic interactions,” she says. “If you research the Miami girl online, she’s always in a bikini and her head is cut off, or her back is to the camera. You aren’t connecting with the person. She’s just a body to lure customers — namely, a male with a lot of money looking for sexual adventure in a very promiscuous city.”
Miami Girls Foundation was created, in part, to encourage women to stay rooted in the city and true to their ideals. Juskowski believes projects such as InsideOut can help diminish that dissonance for women who are proud of what they do. It’s time women owned and claimed where they live, work and play. “You don’t have to move away from Miami,” she says. “You don’t have to buy into the damaging publicity.”
The oversize posters are on display in Brickell, downtown, Liberty City, South Beach, and Wynwood. In some locations, they will remain on the walls until they naturally disintegrate. Juskowski hopes the posters, which are visual markers for the city’s history as told for women, by women, will encourage passersby to look up each woman's story online and to also change the imagery associated with the hashtag #miamigirls.
One portrait might especially pique curiosity. Miami’s 19th-century matriarch, Julia Tuttle, is the only woman to have founded a major American city and was the forerunner to the other 99 who are vibrantly alive and making a difference in the Magic City.