By Gina Malone
Ann Moorefield and Joan Payton, friends and neighbors at Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community, share a love of art—Moorefield as a writer and Payton as a fiber artist. Both have long contributed to women’s issues by virtue of their careers and volunteer work, and when the pandemic began shutting doors in 2020, they found themselves able to devote more time to their creativity and activism by focusing on a collaborative project already in the works.
Throughout her career as a social worker, Payton always expressed herself through art: painting, jewelry making and rug hooking. In 2020, she began sketching and then hooking faces of women from all over the world, creating colorful and striking wall hangings representing generational, ethnic and racial diversity.
“Traveling in South Georgia leading birth control workshops with the local Health Department helped me understand many women’s struggles and hopes,” she says. “Since that time, I have been conscious of how we all have similar journeys no matter who we are or where we live.”
Meanwhile, Moorefield, for her part, wrote about women’s experiences—expressing imaginatively, rather than with specific women in mind, emotions such as joy, regret, fear and grief. Her poetry emerged from years of mindfulness and engagement. “I attended a women’s college, was an officer in the local League of Women Voters, a leader of Girl Scouts troops and a member of several book clubs focused on the writings of women,” she says. During her tenure in the English Department at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC, she was a co-founder and then director of the Women’s Studies program there.
In 2021, the two women exhibited their words and images, titled Come Walk With Me, at Deerfield, calling it “an invitation…to step into the shoes of women throughout the world.” They published an art book with the same title this year, and, with the development of a website and video, their project has now become a mission they call Come Walk With Me Sisterhood.
“We experienced the great joy of working not just with each other but with the many others who volunteered their time, expertise and resources for a cause in which all believed,” says Moorefield. “Our immediate goal is to raise money to support nonprofit organizations that support women. Underlying goals are to acknowledge the sisterhood of all women and to raise awareness of women’s concerns. Overall, our deep hope is that women be seen and their voices heard no matter where they come from or how softly they speak.”
The project received generous donations from anonymous benefactors and its artists were able to offer the book at no cost to all who contributed, in honor of their project, to local nonprofits. “Once our remaining supply of the first edition is depleted, copies of future editions will be made available to order through our website,” Moorefield says. “All profits will always go to nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups that empower women.”
To purchase the book and learn more about the cause, visit ComeWalkWithMeSisterhood.com.
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