Don’t Touch the Art: An Introduction

LOVE Girls Magazine
3 min readAug 18, 2021


When Shenetha Shipp, editor of the Memphis branch of LOVE Girls Magazine, first asked me to join LOVE Girls in 2020, I was unsure of what to expect. A magazine about women’s empowerment and feminism sounded great, but I’d read none of their issues or engaged with any of their content. I hung up from the phone interview still feeling unsure, but resolved to at least stay for a while to see if I liked it or not.

During the first editorial meeting that I attended, the theme of the issue was brought up: Don’t Touch The Art. The theme was conceptualized by Taylor Jo Neyens when she decided to venture onto her cross-country road trip and sold tee-shirts to fund her adventure. In her article, Neyens discusses the reasons for doing it: “Some men would ask, ‘Are you the art?’ Women were surprised I was traveling alone and I got many comments about my safety. I realized ‘Don’t Touch The Art’ could evolve into so much more than a way to help pay for my travels.”

To Neyens, ‘Don’t Touch The Art’ meant her trip and her photography. When it was pitched to be the theme for this year’s spring 2021 edition of LOVE Girls Magazine, it became something different to everyone. To Taylor Williams, it meant her journey with her African-textured hair and her struggle to love and embrace it. To Lola Brooke, it meant baking, and how the art of the chef is often overlooked as art.

To me, ‘Don’t Touch The Art’ couldn’t have been clearer. The ‘art’ was women — all of them, all of their experiences, their joys, their sufferings. And the art also meant the women depicted in hundreds of thousands of paintings, immortalized in museum halls and on bathroom walls. Women that had very real, very tangible lives that were the muses, the inspirations for these artistic pieces, yet often remain nameless and lost to history. If someone asked right now who painted the Mona Lisa, a hundred hands would raise for a voice to respond, Da Vinci. But who was the woman he painted?

Her name is Lisa Gherardini.

She had a life and a marriage outside of the portrait she is most known for. But everything else about her has faded into the background, and she is simply what she was made to be by Da Vinci’s paints, stripped of a voice, stripped of power.

Don’t touch the art. Don’t touch the women behind the art, the women whose voices are silenced in order to create art. Don’t touch the women whose bodies were sculpted for statues of Aphrodite and Athena. Don’t touch the women whose likenesses were painted but whose names were forgotten.

Their stories mattered. Their lives mattered. Don’t touch them.

This introduction was written by Lauren Harper, Board Secretary and Editorial team leader for LOVE Girls Magazine. I sincerely hope you enjoy reading our Medium articles and consider supporting the magazine.



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