Waa-Mu’s “For the Record” adapted into art exhibit

Ryann Perlstein, Reporter

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Communication students Carly Mazer and Lauren Katz took their musical “For the Record” from performance to print when they launched their Tuesday exhibit in Main Library in collaboration with One Book One Northwestern.

“For the Record,” the 88th annual Waa-Mu Show that ran in May, was co-written by Mazer, a senior, and Katz, a junior. The musical was inspired by their fascination with revolutionary women who have historically been overlooked.

After pitching their idea to Northwestern faculty, the writers were told to include women from a variety of time periods, places and backgrounds — unlike the show, which primarily featured three historical women. The exhibit, open until the end of the quarter, features 35 women in fields such as art, athletics, science and social justice.

Many of the women included were featured as secondary characters in the show, but Mazer and Katz said they wanted to dedicate more space to their legacies in their exhibit.

“We didn’t want to make it cliché,” Katz said. “We wanted to be rooted in the truth.”

Mazer and Katz were also inspired by “Overlooked,” a New York Times obituary series by Amy Padnani that honors women whose stories were “all but erased from the historical record.”

“Women make up half of our population but their stories only make up 0.5 percent of recorded history,” Mazer said. “We are hoping this horrifying stat is on its way to changing as we, and others with the same mission, work to create awareness through storytelling.”

Padnani agreed to meet with Mazer and Katz after speaking with the Knight Lab. Padnani explained that her project was about combating the idea that obituaries are a “rearview look on society.” Barack and Michelle Obama have since partnered with Netflix to create an adaptation of her project.

This exhibit comes as Northwestern celebrates 150 years of admitting women to the University and the selection of “Hidden Figures” as this year’s One Book One Northwestern book.

Nancy Cunniff, the director of the One Book One Northwestern program, said she thought it would be interesting to incorporate “For the Record” as part of this year’s programming.

“In the spring I went to see ‘For the Record,’ and I couldn’t believe what an outstanding job these two young women did in writing the show,” Cunniff said.

Mazer and Katz say they are fortunate to have received such positive feedback on their work, including an invitation from Cunniff to turn the musical into an exhibit. After seeing the show, Cunniff asked Mazer and Katz if they would be willing to present their research in a new format to coincide with this year’s theme.

“The creation of this musical (and exhibit) is really only one small step in a marathon of actions that need to be taken in order to adequately recognize women and their accomplishments in society,” Mazer said.

A previous version of this article misquoted Carly Mazer due to a transcription error. The correct version of the quote reads: “Women make up half of our population but their stories only make up 0.5 percent of recorded history.” The Daily regrets the error.

Email: ryannperlstein2023@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @ryannperlstein

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