Girl Detective Paintings

35 3Arts supporters
$2,425 raised of $2,400 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on September 06, 2015
    • 101% contributed

Ever since I was a young girl, I have been an avid fan of the Nancy Drew character and book series, which was first published in 1930. A role model who challenged many gender stereotypes of her time, Nancy was a daring, independent, and confident heroine. In many ways I was not a typical girl growing up either, but I found in her character someone I could relate to and hope to emulate. Recently, I learned more about two early writers of the series, Mildred Wirt Benson and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, who collectively used the pen name “Carolyn Keene.” These women were also ahead of the gender norms of their times—one became a CEO and the other was an expert diver, pilot, and first female graduate in journalism at her university. As a professional painter myself, working mostly in a narrative and representational style, I want to create a new series inspired by Nancy Drew and these two authors who helped define this empowered female character. This new series of “Girl Detective” oil paintings will be an important step in my artistic practice, building on other thematic pieces I've done and offering me a chance to significantly expand my body of work. With your support, I will be able to devote the time and resources to completing this work, which already has a committed exhibition space in Spring 2016 at the Kane Space Projects.  

About This Project

I received my first Nancy Drew book—“Nancy’s Mysterious Letter”—when I was in the hospital for a tonsilectomy at age 8. I became hooked on reading the adventures of this independent girl who was not so different from myself, or at least who I wanted to be at age 18 (her age). Nancy Drew helped me to feel like I could be unique and different, make my own choices, and use my intelligence and skills to build expertise and gain recognition in various areas. Even as I re-read the books as an adult, I continue to be inspired. In 2010, I founded a band called Girl Detective, and one of our first songs was about Nancy, while also having some shadows of autobiography. As I delved further into the background of the character and the books, little did I know that Nancy was not fictional; she was based on the lives of the first two Nancy Drew writers, Mildred Wirt Benson and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams. These women defied gender stereotypes in their own lives and wove themselves into Nancy’s character. The result influenced generations of women to come, including myself as well as Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sandra Day O’Connor and Sonia Sotamayor, to name a few.  

With this painting series, I would like to honor the inspiration of these women and the character they created. This project will be the second in a series of paintings based on a narrative. The earlier series, completed in 2014, consisted of six paintings based on the theme of Joseph Campbell’s “monomyth” (or Hero’s Journey), and was funded in part by an Individual Artist grant  from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. As I completed that series, I enjoyed the process of exploring numerous themes and using the guide of the narrative structure as a framing device. I am very excited to continue this approach, now using a subject that has been an inspiration to me since my youth.

Your support will help offset the costs associated with creating these works—purchasing oil paints, canvases, brushes, varnish, and frames—as well as helping to fund my studio space at Fulton Street Collective. Additional funds raised will go toward promotion of the solo exhibition at Kane Space Project in Spring 2016. In addition, your support will allow me to advance my career development as an emerging artist by supporting me in building my body of work. Thank you for joining me on this exciting journey! 

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $10
    Thank you on my website and Facebook page ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $15
    Digital download of Girl Detective song ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $25
    Digital download of a Girl Detective song and a Notepad set ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Digital download of a Girl Detective song and a handmade clock necklace ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $75
    Digital download of a Girl Detective song and a Girl Detective totebag ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    All of the above in one fell swoop! ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $150
    All of the above, plus a one-hour private drawing lesson at my studio ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $200
    All of the above, plus one 8”x10” matted print of a Girl Detective or Apotheosis painting ($0.00 is tax deductible.)

Rani Young

Rani Young is a Chicago-based visual artist. She captures vignettes of moments, whether real or fragments of her internal narrative. Rani is a recipient of a 2014 Individual Artist grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. …

View Rani Young's profile
  • Update 1: Thank you!! We're already at 20%!!!
    Posted on July 27, 2015


    Thank you so much to all the early contributors!! We're already at 20% after just the first three days!! You guys are amazing! 

    Please feel free to spread the word about this campaign to any of your friends who might be interested. All contributions are fully tax-deductible and I'll have lots of goodies to share with you for helping me to get this painting series off the ground and bring about greater awareness of the Nancy Drew character and the women who created her. I'm so excited about this project! Thank you all for being a part of it!!


    Update 2: We've reached the 3Arts Match Amount!!
    Posted on August 07, 2015


    Today we reached the 3Arts match amount!! Thanks so much to everyone who's donated along the way!! This is a huge milestone! Just $770 left to finish up the full goal amount. We can do it!

    Thank you!! Thank you! Thank you!! --Rani

    Update 3: A Glimpse of the Rewards!!
    Posted on August 16, 2015


    Here are a few images that show the Girl Detective Notepad Set (at the $25 level) and the Girl Detective Necklace (at the $50 level). I will be handmaking each of these and am thrilled to get them to you at the conclusion of the campaign. Thanks to everyone who's been helping out! Just 3 weeks and $550 to go! We can do it!!

    Girl Detective Notepad Set and Necklace

    Update 4: Almost there!! 5 days and $195 to go!
    Posted on September 01, 2015


    Hello everyone!

    Thanks again to all of you for contributing!! The campaign wraps up in just 5 short days and we're just $195 away from meeting the mark! I know we'll get there! Very excited to get started on this painting series! Thanks again to each and every one of you! Your support means the world to me!!

    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Patricia Wheeler

    • Laura Cosper

    • Linda Farrington

    • Cynthia Headrick

    • Michael Sanchez

    • Christopolis Markus

    • Cynthia Cioppa

    • Mary Newberg

    • John Skrabutenas

    • John Woolpert

    • jyl bonaguro

    • Debra Lorson

    • Patricia Wheeler

    • Brooks filonow

    • ken winnick

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Colleen Woolpert

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Sandy Suminski

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Manny Flores

    • diana milock

    • Kelly Pedersen

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    • Laurie Blair

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    • Sara Slawnik

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • adele nicholas

    • Carolyn Schroeder

    • Mickey Trimble

    • Colleen Woolpert

    • Sara Zalek

make it work


3AP Presenting Partner:

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 Additional support provided by: 

Department of Cultural Affairs logo  Illinois Arts Council