I have never met Eunice Johnson, but honestly wish I could have. Eunice was, bar none one of the most influential women of the 21 century. She was an entrepreneurial visionary whose drive and ambition changed the fashion industry for African American women everywhere. Her contributions are legendary. Volumes have been written about how she brought high fashion to communities across the nation by launching Ebony Fashion Fair, while simultaneously raising millions of dollars for various charities. This is in addition to creating Fashion Fair make up, and founding Ebony and Jet magazine. Eunice used fashion to break down cultural barriers and raise expectations of what was possible. Everything she did, she did with world class style, glamour and panache.
Aside from her huge contribution to the world of fashion, what interests me most about Eunice, is Eunice herself. I do not have to have known her to know that she was blessed with the unique ability to motivate, empower and impart a sense of hopefulness in others. She must have been hugely optimistic, believing in herself and others and in her sense of mission. She was able to build relationships with unlikely partners and find creative ways in which to accomplish her goals. She was a brilliant woman who viewed obstacles as opportunities. One antidotal story tells of her collecting press releases from around the country referencing specific designers in the Ebony Fashion Fair. She used this information to help persuade these designers of the benefit that could be had by partnering with her.
It is a combination of all these traits that inspired me to create Esther. It is my hope that the beauty and stance of this piece evoke a feeling of the strength and self-assurance, traits which Eunice possessed in abundance. This sculpture is dedicated to the memory of Eunice Johnson. A truly remarkable woman, whose legacy lives on.