Hear the Glow of Electric Lights

41 3Arts supporters
$5,042 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on March 09, 2017
    • 101% contributed

Hear the Glow of Electric Lights is a video and photo-based series that investigates the choreographed performances and culture of 1960s American music groups featuring teenage girls and young women, with the intention of deconstructing the genre’s historical associations with fluff, superficiality, and inauthenticity. I am fascinated with the costumes and gendered spaces that these girl groups occupy. Girl groups emerged at a time in American history when women were not given much freedom or autonomy over their lives. For this project, I am researching groups like the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las because they created a unique conceptual space for girls and women by challenging respectable notions of femininity through make-up and sartorial choices. These groups possessed a homegrown quality and aesthetic, having started in school choirs located in New York’s inner-city Borough of Queens and Spanish Harlem neighborhood. The groups created a new visual space for adolescent girls and young women to perform very specific parts of their identity; specifically, an idealized identity of girlhood that represented and appealed to women across race and class boundaries. This performance of girlhood was complex, celebratory, and riddled with contradictions. I am interested in mining these complexities as well as combining them with unexpected elements like saturated color and sculptural abstraction as a way to reconsider women’s relationships to surface and artifice. 

About This Project

I am a multidisciplinary artist who explores femininity through material culture, artifice, and adornment. My background as a painter, community activist, fashion enthusiast, and resident of Chicago’s west side has led to an interest in surface, specifically skin and hair, and the way it signifies, shapes, and communicates facets of our identity.

Girl groups have held my attention for a long time. They represent the intersection of high artifice and femininity combined with authentic, lived experience. They teach us about girlhood as an appealing and multifaceted identity. I feel that creating this work will fill a void in visual representation by creating an inclusive space that emphasizes both the depth and importance of girlhood as an identity. This work is extremely timely because I believe many women are grappling with holding, creating, and making space in the public sphere, which are gestures intrinsically linked to issues of power. We need to see authentic representations of women that aren’t victimized or sensationalized.

Collaboration is at the center of this project.  I will be working with a choreographer, make-up artist, filmmaker, and photographer. Beginning in February, I will hold auditions for young women in my community, from which I’ll assemble a cast of participants who will work with me to reimagine a new girl group that deconstructs and reinterprets the historical associations these groups have with fluff, superficiality, and inauthenticity.

I also plan to film in several school auditoriums in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. In addition to these staged performances, I will draw upon historic footage, promotional material, critical writing, and ephemera. Ultimately, this work will result in a multidisciplinary installation, including videos, photos, and new ephemera created in the process. My goal is to complete the work for exhibition opportunities in 2017 or 2018.

By supporting this project you will play an important role in expanding conversations about representations of girls and young women, while helping one of my most ambitious projects come to fruition. Thank you for helping to make this work possible!

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25
    Personal thank you on social media. ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Above, plus your name in the video credits. ($50.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    All of the above, plus a glossy 8”x10”, autographed “fan photo”. ($75.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $200
    All of the above, plus a limited edition, signed conceptual fan package. ($100.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $350
    All of the above, plus an invitation to a private studio visit. ($150.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    All of the above, plus co-producer credit in the video and an original, one-of-a-kind, signed sculpture. ($150.00 is tax deductible.)

Sarah Beth Woods

Sarah Beth Woods is a Chicago-based multidisciplinary artist who works collaboratively and cross-culturally. Cultural influences derived from formative years spent living and teaching on the South West side of Chicago manifest in the content and aesthetics of Woods’ work, specifically …

View Sarah Beth Woods's profile
  • Update 1: We're getting closer!
    Posted on February 06, 2017


    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HELPING TO SUPPORT THIS PROJECT! We are so close to 1/3 of the way! In addition, I've found one of the locations for the shoot, Prosser Career Academy located in the Belmont-Cragin neighborhood on Chicago's northwest side. I've interviewed (2) choreographers and am ecstatic to reveal the decision soon.

    Update 2: 2/3rds funded!
    Posted on February 12, 2017


    I am excited to announce that Hear the Glow is 2/3rds funded with 29% of the way left to go and 25 days left of the campaign. Thank you for helping me to reach this milestone!

    Currently I'm researching early studio use of echo chambers used at Gold Star, a renowned recording studio based in Los Angeles that was originally a cramped dentist's office. Gold Star would go on to record The Beach Boys, Dick Dale, Tina Turner, The Champs, The Ronettes, The Ramones and more.

    Phil Spector recorded as part of the Teddy Bears at Gold Star in 1958. "Situated behind Studio A , the trapezoid-shaped chambers were lined with two-inch concrete walls. Each was fitted with a speaker, to input the sound of the recording from the control room, and a mike to record and feed it back. The recording engineer Larry Levine, who would work on virtually all of Spector's recordings between 1962 and 1966, recalls that crawling into the dark, tomblike space and simply hearing your own breath resounding in your ears could be a terrifying experience." (Mick Brown, Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector) Photo credit: goldstarrecordingstudios.com

    Rare photo of Echo Chamber at Gold Star Recording Studio

    Update 3: 19% of the way left to go!
    Posted on February 17, 2017


    Friends, 20 more days and 19% of the way left to go! This project wouldn't be possible without your support. THANK YOU! Image http://www.billboard.com/photos/7271829/aretha-franklin-six-decades-of-photosBlack and White photo of Aretha Franklin 1961

    Update 4: 100% FUNDED!
    Posted on March 04, 2017



    Thank you for partnering with me on Hear the Glow of Electric Lights. Yesterday I met my goal thanks to your generous support! I'm currently researching, organizing and planning the performative elements of the project. More updates soon.

    Much gratitude,


    Update 5: May update
    Posted on April 23, 2017


    Hi friends,

    Spring seems to have finally arrived here in Chicago, I hope you are enjoying longer days and sunshine near you as well. Hear the Glow is coming along nicely (choreography is much harder than it looks and I have a new found appreciation for it!) We are planning to start filming next month. Currently we have a performance date scheduled at Silent Funny, a multi-use performance space in West Humboldt Park, Chicago, June 24th from 4-5pm. If you are in the area, we'd love to have you. In addition I've been invited to speak about Hear the Glow on a panel, part of Making the West Side, entitled West Side Arts: Rootwork, Girl Bands, & Activating Public Archives at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum June 15th, 6-8pm. Free with RSVP

    Much Love and Gratitude,


    Update 6: June update
    Posted on June 08, 2017



    May was quite a busy month. I had my sculptural work Esther and Anonymous exhibited in the group show Here+Now at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art (UICA) Grand Rapids, MI. I'm currently working on the film portion of the project, consulting with Lydia Douglas an independent filmmaker/photographer. Her work has been shown at the Smithsonian Institue, her documentary film 'Nappy' garnered critical acclaim and aired on PBS. Its widely considered one of the earliest films to document Black women and the contemporary natural hair movement. I am so grateful for her generous support and guidance. Brian VandenBos (BFA Film NYU) and I will be shooting the 16mm film at Prosser High School in early July and let me tell you, it will be hot as an oven! We're currently deliberating bewteen Double-X negative film and Tri-X reversal. Our first public reveal+performance for Hear the Glow is coming up at Silent Funny in West Humboldt Park, Chicago, June 24th from 4-5pm. We are very excited and working diligently to bring all of the details together. We couldn't have made it this far with out you!

    Very Best,


    Update 7: July update
    Posted on July 07, 2017


    girl group posing at Silent Funny

    Ecstatic to announce that we are filming this Sunday using a Bolex camera and 16mm film as well as a Cannon C-100 digital camera courtesy of Amaury Diaz, a Chicago-based filmmaker. Special thanks to Ann Heggans for her amazing costumes, Courtney Bradshaw choreography, Brian and Jason VandenBos, film and sound and the amazing ladies (L-R) Alexis Strowder, Yahkirah Beard, Ann Heggans and Anya Jenkins for making girl group magic. Its been wonderful to work with this talented group of people, excited for the myriad of ways in which Hear the Glow continues to evolve.

    Update 8: August
    Posted on August 24, 2017


    Friends, filming has been great, hectic, and rewarding-overall it looks great. I'm currently in the film transferring phase (to digital.) I'm taking a break from the material components of the project for the next few weeks, taking part in a DIY filmmaking and performance course where I'll be sharing Hear the Glow. Anticipating constructive feedback and time to generate new ideas.

    Very Best,


    Update 9: October
    Posted on October 23, 2017


    I hope this email finds you well. I'm working on the 16mm film components/score of my girl group project, Hear the Glow of Electric Lights. I'm reading a lot and researching film and magazine archives like Jet and Ebony as a way to understand representationSpecifically, I've been really interested in female body comportment and negative/reversal film.

    We are very excited for Anya Jenkins, she has left for Benedictine College with a music scholarship. That being said we don't have any more performances planned at this time. I screened the reversal film out of a DIY projector made from a cardboard shoe box and magnifying glass for the October 1st opening of the Terrain Biennial, a public art event in Oak Park, IL. The structure comprised a blacked-out make-shift theatre constructed from dusty pink velvet curtains. The film was screened using my phone, having been digitized from a 16mm projector complete with sound. The result was uncanny as the sound of the projector echoed from a small shoe box.

    Much love and gratitude,


    Update 10: Spring update
    Posted on March 20, 2018



    I know we're close to Spring on the West side when the sky opens, low-hanging clouds disperse and the few visible stars reveal themselves. I am so grateful for your support, and it is with great pleasure that I share the finished version of Hear the Glow, which will be screened at Genesis Cinema in London as a part of Experiemntal Moving Image in May. The final version remains in reversal, a way to highlight what is obscurred. I will be updating this news feed as related events and screenings are scheduled.


    Very Best,



    Update 11: November update
    Posted on November 17, 2018



    Its a snowy day here in Chicago, unusual for this early in November. It's a perfect day to stay in with a warm cup of tea. There are several recent updates for Hear the Glow. In October of this year the film was screened at the CICA Museum, near Seoul in Gimpo-si, Korea. In addition I screened Hear the Glow at Saatchi's The Other Art Fair at Mana Contemporary, Chicago September 28-30, along with exhibiting some of my hair sculptures and several film stills. Recently, Women Cinemaker's Berlin interviewed me and published a very thorough, and well executed interview here: https://issuu.com/womencine.makers.review/docs/special.edition/168 

    Wishing you joy and peace,


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

    • Jon Satrom

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Sarah Beth Woods

    • Bill Woods

    • Erika Walton Sitzberger

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Maria Lux

    • Ryan Thompson

    • matthew bourque

    • Francisco Gonzalez

    • Julie Schroeder

    • Lisa Schabel

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Melissa Pokorny

    • kevin woods

    • Tom & Lona Woods

    • Margaret Bucholz

    • Jason Gonzales

    • Barb and John Olsen

    • Pat and Greg Peyer

    • Kevin Hamilton

    • Silent Funny

    • Barbara J Henry

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • John R. Woods

    • Bill Woods

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Charese Lake

    • Charlie Branda

    • Gina Dominguez

    • Rebecca Coghill

    • Anna Vorobeva

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Colleen Keegan

    • Tracie hall

    • Margaret Buchen

    • Laura Kalba

    • Bill Woods

    • Lauretta Hogin

    • Rhonda Wheatley

make it work


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 Additional support provided by: 

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