On March 5, around 250 people were dropped off in an alley in San Francisco’s Financial District. They were escorted through a side door, down a set of stairs, and straight into the mysterious “Lady Factory.”
Ambiguously advertised as “part speakeasy, part speak out,” the exhibit is essentially the woke girl’s version of the pop-up museums currently taking over your Instagram feed. Instead of a pool of sprinkles (a la the Museum of Ice Cream), The Lady Factory filled a small pool with tiny foam breasts to symbolize the intensity of the #MeToo movement we’re currently wading through.
In lieu of rainbow-striped stairs (a la The Color Factory), guests were invited to scale a pink rock wall – a literal interpretation of the climb all women must endure to rise up in the corporate world. The Lady Factory is the brainchild of the creatives at Eleven, Inc., an SF-based advertising agency.
Creative Director Jamie Shaw explained to B+C that every year for International Women’s Day, the company’s partners invite the team to come up with an original, creative endeavor to help raise money for charity.
Shaw says, “Because it’s 2018 and so many things are happening in the cultural conversation, it just felt different this year. We just wanted to do some storytelling and have a conversation about issues, but we didn’t want to be slogany and preachy.”
Considering the role social media plays in virtually every element of our lives, creating something shareable seemed like the best way to make an impact.
The exhibit is centered around four central themes: the wage gap, women in leadership, harassment, and marginalization. In the space, you’ll find interactive pieces that tie into each of these topics.
“The Wage Gap Money Grab” (pictured below) offers guests a photo-op where they can try to catch fake money flying through the air. Instead of that classic confetti-throwing Instagram moment so often seen in these types of art experiences, the women here are “trying to catch their pay,” says Shaw.
The “Wallflowers” section of the space includes eight original, wallpapered backdrops designed by a handful of female artists. Katie Mullins’ print “Lift” features women lifting each other up. Adriana Del Mar’s “Hoops” represents the major “acrobatics” women are forced to go through in comparison to their male counterparts.
The wallpaper is really where most of the fundraising efforts are channeled through. Those prints are currently available through The Lady Factory’s gift shop, with proceeds benefitting The National Women’s Law Center.
The exhibit is a place to play, but also a place to reflect on how each of the themes has affected the viewer’s life experience. Just because she walks away with some shareable content doesn’t mean it was all just for show.
To this point, Shaw says, “It speaks so much to the reality of our lives. Yes, we [women] like to do escapist, whimsical things but that doesn’t mean that [these issues] are not always in our minds and part of our day.”
If you’re looking to book your ticket ASAP, we have good news and bad news. Initially, The Lady Factory was intended to be a one-night-only event, and so it’s come and gone. But because of the public’s response, Shaw and Eleven Inc. are actively working on ways to open the exhibit to the public long-term.
What is the best pop-up art experience you’ve been to this year? Tag us in one of your photos @britandco!