Teodora Pogonat’s The Pink Parachute Project photo series depicts female models posing gracefully against dramatic backdrops, including Red Rocks, with a thirty-pound pink 1967 British parachute. The work was slated to be shown at Black Crow Gallery in the Golden Triangle. While the show was canceled over coronavirus concerns, the photo series is online for patrons to view and purchase.
According to Pogonat, every element in the photo — from the rugged backgrounds to the pink parachute — is loaded with symbolism.
“To me, a parachute represents a substantial engulfing material that creates resistance to hold us back, pull us in different directions and slow us down as we fall," Pogonat explains. "In our society, the color pink is assigned to the female gender. When I add [the] parachute and pink together, immediately what comes to mind is the internal and external resistance that women face based on inequality.
“On the other hand,” Pogonat continues, “I feel strongly that the pink parachute symbolizes beauty, hope and safety. It shines in the light, moves in flux of the air and gives a positive wind resistance enabling one to control their landing on safe ground, exactly where one wants to go.”
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The Pink Parachute Project was born from the inequality Pogonat faced for twelve years working as an electrical engineer; it was also inspired by the start of the Nevertheless She Persisted feminist movement, which began in 2017 when Senator Elizabeth Warren was muted and blamed by Republicans during a debate over President Donald Trump’s decision to appoint Senator Jeff Sessions as the United States Attorney General. Pogonat hopes the photos inspire and empower women.
“I felt that Elizabeth Warren’s very public experience that coined ‘Nevertheless She Persisted’ was only a small glimpse of the myriad of everyday occurrences women endure,” Pogonat says. “It touched me heavily, and hearing other women come forward with their own stories gave me strength to channel this into a creative voice.”
The one-year photo shoot took Pogonat on an expedition across Denver, Austin and Miami to capture women’s strengths and struggles.
“Just as distinct as the three cities are from one another, so are women’s struggles and issues throughout their lifetimes," Pogonat says. "I wanted to ensure that I visually represented not only the diversity of women across the United States, but women’s various issues and strengths through these environments. I used columns and rigid urban skyline in Austin; a lighthouse, jagged rocks, ocean and a 200-year-old Ficus tree in Miami; and Denver provided urban lights and architecture, art installations and beautiful rugged terrain at Red Rocks.”
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Pogonat hopes her photos resonate with all women, and not just during Women’s History Month, but all year long.
“My hope is women will see themselves within the images and be reminded of how strong and amazing they truly are," she says. "That they can change the inequality narrative and shape the future. It all starts with women being each other’s parachutes — each other’s strength, empowerment and safety. The issues women face are important, and awareness is key.
"But awareness alone cannot change anything unless we can turn that into constructive discussions of the issues to press for change,” Pogonat continues. “That fight is long and hard and requires so much patience and persistence. I felt that the only way we can persist is through empowerment and lifting each other up.”