International Women’s Day 2023: Interviews and Studio Visits

Conversations with brilliant artists, musicians, chefs, designers and more

Women all over the world should be championed, supported and celebrated every single day—not just once a year. While calling oneself a feminist is now the norm, it’s a term that’s complex and meaningful—and oftentimes misused. We at COOL HUNTING believe that true feminism is intersectional and inclusive. We believe it’s for all women, no matter their race, ethnicity, nationality, age, ability, sexuality, sexual history, appearance, income, education, occupation or immigration status. We do not accept terms like “real women.” We believe transphobia has no place in feminism. With all the aforementioned in mind, we encourage readers to consider donating to local mutual aid initiatives, local abortion funds, as well as organizations like Empower Foundation, The Okra Project, GAATW, Women’s Prison Organization, International Domestic Workers Federation, Black Girls Code and so many more.

We love celebrating International Women’s Day and shining a spotlight on some of the creative, clever, inspiring, inventive, thoughtful and brilliant thinkers we have met over the past year. From musicians to painters, chefs, ceramicists, designers and more, these individuals have shared with us very memorable and meaningful conversations.

Courtesy of Kristen Liu-Wong

Kristen Liu-Wong’s “Hard Pressed” Revels in the Stress of Modern Life

The women in San Francisco-born artist Kristen Liu-Wong‘s paintings feel familiar. Most are trying and failing to relax, some are masturbating and others are aggressively multitasking or reading on the toilet. All of them are trying to navigate the stress that comes with life, be it work or the desires of the id. The figures are, as the artist’s latest exhibition foretells with its title, Hard Pressed. As Liu-Wong’s fourth and largest solo show at LA’s Corey Helford Gallery, Hard Pressed, is a maximalist revelry of contemporary anxieties, soaked in crude humor, sensuality and a stylistic melange of ’90s cartoons and folk art… Read more.

Courtesy of Constance Spence

Sampa The Great on Home, Identity and Representation

Rapper, singer, songwriter and producer Sampa The Great (aka Sampa Tembo) has been appointed the poster-child of various movements, communities and cultures—without acquiescence—and, as such, she’s no stranger to myopic perceptions, reductive takes and misrepresentations. While she was born in Zambia and raised in Botswana, she’s often described as an Afrobeats (a West African genre) artist. She lived in Melbourne, Australia for several years and is often claimed by the country as Australian. As an African woman, she has been designated as a spokesperson for Black women artists all over the world. But now, with her second full-length album (following 2019’s The Return), As Above, So Below, Tembo is committed to representing herself… Read more.

Courtesy of HAGS

How NYC’s HAGS is “Queering” Fine Dining

Despite the fact that nobody knows what truly lies beyond its doors yet, the highly anticipated restaurant HAGS, from first-time restaurant co-founders Telly Justice and Camille Lindsley, has garnered almost immediate acclaim for being New York City’s first fine dining restaurant that focuses on and is founded by queer people—but the establishment achieves so much more than that. Located where the original Momofuku Noodle Bar was in the East Village, HAGS upends the very notion of what fine dining is—from applying a queer lens throughout to labor practices structured around a four-day work week and food sourced directly from the neighborhood. At the up-and-coming eatery, queer is praxis, and the result is an intimate, campy dining experience where everyone is welcome… Read more.

Courtesy of SYS Sister Sounds

Pho The Girls’ Women-Empowering DJ Workshops in Hanoi, Vietnam

When night falls in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, Vietnam, an electric energy appears. Bar promoters boasting venues’ offerings spill onto the street, where large, lively groups of patrons imbibe amidst a smörgåsbord of music emitted from closely packed clubs. Behind the turntable, a growing number of women DJs are paving the way for a more gender- and sexually-inclusive scene in Vietnam’s nightlife. At the forefront of this movement is Pho The Girls—a DJ workshop for women and nonbinary people presented by collective SYS Sister Sounds. The collective is empowering girls and gender nonconforming individuals to take up space in the music and club industries… Read more.

Courtesy of NOTTE

Notte Jewelry’s Euphoric Blend of Childhood Memories and Contemporary Style

Suffused with bright pastels, freshwater pearls, dolphin-shaped gems, fruity charms and more cheery details, Notte Jewelry is a celebration of life, the beach, childhood and anything that can induce a smile. Their collections of chunky and colorful Y2K-inspired rings, necklaces and earrings are nostalgic but not dated, from the past but not passé. This is owed to founder Jessica Tse recreating sensations from memories of childhood (like the thrill of entering a toy store or arriving at a seaside vacation) through stainless steel and mother of pearl… Read more.

Courtesy of David Pym

Kristin Worrall Crafts Sculptural Art from Gelatin Desserts in “Take Comfort”

For New York-based artist Kristin Worrall, it was not enough to tour with the award-winning company Nature Theater of Oklahoma, nor was it enough to bake for critically acclaimed restaurants such as Jean-Georges. Rather, Worrall’s penchant for the multidisciplinary and interconnectedness led the artist to forge her own path, melding food, sound design and theater into interactive, unique art. Her latest—Take Comfort at Connecticut’s Standard Space, founded by fine art photographer Theo Coulombe—explores the beauty and creativity of gelatin desserts. Accompanied by a performance and atmospheric soundscape, the exhibit (on view today through 18 December) playfully investigates pleasure and nostalgia… Read more.

Courtesy of Jeremy Cohen

Sundance 2023: Chef Melissa King’s Cinematic Cuisine

If films are the stars of Sundance, bursting with bright cinematic ideas and orienting festival attendees during their stay, then the hundreds of cultural activations across Utah’s Park City are the planets upon which communities form between screenings. Sundance, which has returned to Park City for the first time since January 2020, is known as a platform for breakthrough independent cinema, as well as the immense inspiration it provides to visitors. At Chase Sapphire on Main (a thoughtfully designed pop-up cultural center that hosts insightful talks, exclusive cast parties and more), the inimitable chef Melissa King took over the menu for two special events that demonstrated the spectacular sensory power of cuisine and inspired with their cross-cultural culinary origins. As the guest of Chase Sapphire, we spoke with the celebrated chef on site to learn more about her presence in Park City and her delicious dishes… Read more.

Courtesy of Charlotte James

Psychedelic Liberation Training Explores Decolonization Through Hallucinogens

Throughout her first decade of participating in ceremonial psychedelic events, Charlotte James—former co-founder of the educational platform The Ancestor Project—remained one of very few people of color in attendance (if not the only). “The question started to rise more and more: why are there not more BIPOC people in this space, especially because a lot of these medicines come from our traditions?” she tells us. The thoughts led James to explore the roots of the industry, how psychedelics can be used as a tool to decolonize the self and how to dismantle ethnocentricity within the burgeoning industry. She’s since shared this knowledge through workshops and free resources and now she’s guiding others in using hallucinogens for decolonization in Psychedelic Liberation TrainingRead more.

Courtesy of Laure Joliet

Studio Visit: Ceramic Artist Bari Ziperstein

A quiet calm permeates ceramic artist Bari Ziperstein’s new 9,000-square-foot studio. The recent move to this location provides double the design and production space, allowing for all their prolific creative output to occur under one roof—from fine art to BZIPPY, and BZ Collectible Design with The Future PerfectRead more.

Courtesy of Ryan Lash / TED

Artist and TED Fellow Constance Hockaday

Last week, artist Constance Hockaday‘s illuminating TED Talk, which we initially observed in April 2022, debuted online. Hockaday, among other imaginative accolades, created NYC’s Boggsville Boatel and Boat-In Theater and founded Artists-in-Presidents, an empowering series of “leadership makeovers” featuring inclusive public addresses, performances and portraiture of diverse people in power. Within her inspiring discourse at TED, the prolific creator directly addresses a path toward personal agency. Hockaday’s method for determining desire and actualizing dreams is carefully explained—and the story of her path toward these understandings is an inspiring one… Read more.

Courtesy of Sarah Bahbah

Photographer Sarah Bahbah’s Debut Book, “Dear Love”

When Palestinian Australian photographer Sarah Bahbah released her breakout photo series, Sex and Takeout, in 2014, she quickly won the hearts of many with her saturated, dreamy style, unabashed empowerment of women and the ways she deftly illuminated their psyche. Since then, the artist has gone on to carve out her film-reminiscent signature style that combines still imagery with subtitles. Revealing glimpses of difficult conversations, sex, toxic relationships and what is left unsaid, Bahbah’s work revels in vulnerability. Nowhere is this more apparent than in her debut book, Dear Love. Releasing 14 February, the compendium spans 30 years of her work and 600 images that together depict a journey of healing… Read more.

Hero image courtesy of Kristin Worrall