McKeel Talks Art and Empowerment
March is recognized as Women’s History Month and the Center for Student Diversity hosted a series of talks about inspiring women here on the Mount’s campus. On March 4, Brenda McKeel (C’15), the Dean’s Assistant for the College of Liberal Arts, was the first one to present as part of a three-part series. McKeel focused on her life, those who influence her life and what inspires and motivates her. She also connected her art to her family and to her presentation in a unique way.
McKeel has been with the Mount for 14 years and even received her undergraduate degree from the Mount in 2015. She has been married for 26 years and has one daughter who is a junior in college, majoring in nursing. McKeel has very strong ties within her family. She stated that her parents had met at church and that they got married in 1959. Her mother was the light of her life, but she has lost her. She believes a lot of her qualities come from her mother. Her mother is her role model. McKeel also looks up to her Aunt Ida, Aunt Cora and Aunt Mildred. She describes them as her family of strong women.
McKeel draws meaning from many things in life, like quotes, numbers and music. A quote that sticks out to McKeel is from Michelle Obama: “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” Art is an enormous influence in her life as she is an artist. Her art consists of women she believes had a significant impact on American history. Depicted in her art, these women are very well known in black history. According to McKeel, these are the women who little girls aspire to be such as Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks, Billie Holiday, Shirley Chisolm and Bessie Coleman.
She points out in her presentation how art and femininity intersect. She states that art expression creates dialogue between the artists and its viewers, influences cultural attitudes and challenges traditional female roles. Women can challenge these traditional roles through another important topic McKeel speaks on: how women should find their voice and not lose it. She says that there are occasions where she does not feel heard, but when she finds her voice she blossoms. To McKeel, women need to be heard and that is best done through self-advocacy.