Feminism is not all waving flags and outing men, but also the silent force that uplifts and supports other women to love and care for themselves through their lowest and highest. Full-time artist, Director of the Xsabo Foundation, and founder of the Fancy Pads initiative, Fides Linien is a fine artist that encapsulates all of the above and so much more. She advocates for feminism through confident weaves and paper backings, and movements of practical solutions for women from women.
Gentle and flowing, her artwork mediums largely consist of handmade paper and screen prints. One of her more notable series of works is CartaStaminea – an entirely original style conceived by the artist that is a rich blend of bold jewel-toned coloured yarn inlays between papers of complementary muted beige reminiscent of the freshly washed grains derived from banana, Kozo, or Gampi fibres. The artists’ artworks are not just empowering women, but also depict women as individuals who have autonomy over their decisions. Amazone is the explicit distinction that promotes her idea; with the lettering “Talk to” - “my face” - “my” - “breasts” - “can’t hear” - “you” and background of deep red yarn, it is a subtle nod to feminist movements that resist conforming to “male expectations”.
All paper in Linien’s works are not to be mistaken for normal paper; every paper is self-made and handmade from vegetable and other natural fibres. Linien took great interest in papermaking since her days of education in the Academy of Fine Arts Dresden. One thing that delighted her most was the realisation that “paper is very versatile and (can) be manipulated in many ways.” Since 2007, Linien has been researching and developing special and unique fibre paper that is sufficiently textured and strong enough, especially transparent with the aptitude in accommodating meticulous inlays of yarn.
As an unapologetic artist, Linien expresses her support for women and her unique stand through her work, yet not fully identifying with the loosely thrown-around term of “feminist”.
She explained that, “Somehow art is a way of expressing yourself and therefore, it’s obvious for me as a woman to be first and foremost concerned with femininity. Time after time I learned more about “Feminism”, though I wouldn’t call myself “Feminist”, but probably “Feminist Lite”. According to this, I use my art to advocate for women and girls for gender parity, as well as for justice, but also to be curious and question what’s behind façades.”
Inspired by the world of art, design, and aesthetics, Linien’s creative interest began when she was a child who “wanted to become a fashion designer or an archaeologist.” In an exclusive interview with Art Herald, Linien shared a mantra she lives by – “Art is not what you choose like a profession; it’s an assignment, a mission, a way of living, and a mindset.”
Aside from her bold form of artistic self-expression, Linien dedicates her time, craft, and research to Fancy Pads (Instagram: @fancypads), originally a self-help initiative that develops one-time-use but eco-friendly and zero waste sanitary pads for menstruators. The products are manufactured in Uganda, and similar to her handmade paper, they are also made of vegetable fibres. Linien uses this platform to advocate against period shame and educate women and men alike about women’s menstrual poverty. The Fancy Pads initiative enables women, especially adolescent schoolgirls to do away with the inconvenience of staying home during their periods and continue to stay in school, since education contributes paving their way out of poverty. She achieves this all while keeping the brand sustainable and eco-friendly with biodegradable and ethically sourced materials.
By fully utilising her expertise in both science and art, Fides Linien has adeptly accomplished in facets that many have strived to amalgamate throughout their careers, ultimately raising her into the rank of what may be defined as a “Philanthropic Alchemist”.
Take a tour of Fides Linien's online artwork showcase here: