There is a point in every artist’s journey when she reflects on the impact her work can have on the world around her. For Carridder Jones, that reflection has lead to mentoring women writers, educating Kentuckians about black hamlets and serving as a driving force behind the recent Kentucky Women’s Book Festival.
On September 17, 2006, Carridder was honored for her work with the 10th annual Sallie Bingham Award. The award recognizes Kentucky women who are leaders in changing the lives of women and girls across the state by supporting feminist expression in the arts.
The award, named for KFW founder Sallie Bingham, was established under the leadership of then KFW Director Ann Stewart Anderson. It carries a $500 stipend. “The Sallie Bingham Award honors women artists who, through their talent and imagination, are helping to create new possibilities for women and girls in our state. We know that when women and girls advance, so does Kentucky,” said KFW Executive Director Dr. Judi Jennings.
Winners are selected by nominations or by recommendation from the KFW staff or Board. Previous winners include fabric artist Alma Lesch, Judy Sizemore, writer and arts mentor in eastern Kentucky, and Lorna Littleway, a playwright and actor.
Carridder Jones, co-founder and the current Director of Women Who Write, is a playwright and a published writer. In 2003, she completed a historical research project on early African American communities in Jefferson County. Carridder is presently co-producing a documentary on similar communities in central Kentucky.
“At first I was just doing my writing and then I noticed in the KFW grant program something about art and activism. That is when I decided I had to do more than just my art, I had to become active in the community as well,” said Carridder, “That thought came full circle when I had an idea to have a book festival in Louisville.
“I decided to cloak myself in the ‘Art Meets Activism’ slogan that I had learned from the Kentucky Foundation for Women over the years and promote some positive social change. I was determined to see a festival take place in Louisville that would not only showcase the strength of women writers from Kentucky, but also to honor them and their readers,” said Carridder.
Working with members of Women Who Write, University of Louisville Women’s Center, Spalding University MFA Writers, and a committee chaired by Jorena Faulkner, Carridder turned the idea into reality. The festival showcased leading Kentucky writers including Sallie Bingham, Sena Jeter Naslund, and bell hooks.
“The KFW Board and staff unanimously selected Carridder Jones for this year’s award because she exemplifies feminist art for social change in her life and work. Carridder is dedicated to her writing, and she is also a community builder who is always ready to help o ther artists. Her fiction, nonfiction, and plays advance understanding of important social issues and remind us of our essential human connectedness,” said Judi Jennings.
On the task of developing the festival and bringing multiple people toge ther, Carridder reflected, “That certainly puts Art Meets Activism to the test. I will never forget what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: ‘If you can conceive it and believe it, you can achieve it.’”