Finally 'Home'

New book looks back at Womyn's Festival

By Andrea Bonaventura

The Michigan Womyn's Festival, held every August since 1976, has created a sanctuary for thousands of women to gather on private land and proudly unleash their lesbian.

For the past few years, Brooklyn photographer/photojournalist Angela Jimenez has been creating "Welcome Home: Building the Michigan's Womyn's Music Festival," which features 120 color photos by Jimenez. Its focus is on hardworking women that build the festival from the ground up. Think Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry fresco - with women.

"The idea for the book came from the workers themselves," Jimenez says. "There is amazing art that happens when building the festival. The workers that build the festival are largely volunteer and all female. (They) spend up to a month living in tents long before and after the weeklong festival, building up, taking down and returning the land to how it originally was.

"This has never before been documented."

To properly experience the art she was photographing, Jimenez worked as a carpenter for the festival in 2007 and 2008. "I really felt like I was becoming a part of it," she says.

"This was the first time I was photographing my people - and that doesn't mean gay people. I've photographed gay people, but there are so many subcultures - and these were finally my people."

Six hundred photos were snapped, but only about a fifth of them made it into the book, which Jimenez calls "more of a visual poem. It's my attempt to boil down the essence of the worker process. It's told in first person. I couldn't begin to tell the story for everybody."

"Welcome Home" will be available at the festival.

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