A FLIP THROUGH THE PAGES of any history
textbook will yield the stories of people
whose actions have made an impact on the
world—for better or worse. Yet throughout
much of history, the narrative was written
by men. With art as her arsenal, Ann Shen
’06 has written and illustrated her own
perspective on history, focusing on the lives
of those she calls “bad girls”—the revolutionary women who have made their mark
on the world.
“Women’s history needs to be told,”
says Shen. “It’s important for us to cultivate
empathy and understanding for each other
so that we know our collective story as a
Bad Girls Throughout History features
100 revolutionary women from all backgrounds, eras and disciplines, from artists
and activists to warriors and writers.
Through her extensive research, Shen’s focus was to redefine the common definition
of “bad” to mean breaking the standards
of society and transgressing the lines that
shaped the traditional role of women.
Each woman’s accomplishments are
highlighted and complemented by a lively
and richly hued portrait design in Shen’s
signature style—an aesthetic inspired by
the works of Frida Kahlo and Mary Blair,
and that evolved from her time in Muir Col-
lege and on through graduate school at Art
Center College of Design in Los Angeles.
Shen traces much of the initial spark
that helped shaped her career to her time
at UC San Diego, specifically performing
in The Vagina Monologues and studying
abroad at Cambridge University. “Both
experiences pushed me to grow enormously
as a person, and introduced me to so many
inspiring, strong and intelligent friends.
It really taught me that I could achieve what
I set my mind to, and that I could pursue
my passions unabashedly.”
Shen, an illustrator, letterer and author,
has created artwork for The New York Times
and Bust, and for brands like Mattel and
HarperCollins publishers. She has since
turned her devotion to art into her full-time
career, and her passion for feminist ideals
shows in the scenes and inspirational quotes
she illustrates and puts forth on social
media. And with notes like “Following your
passions will always take you to incredible
places,” Shen’s life and work show she
knows just what she’s talking about.
Alumna honors grandmother,
a World War II aviatrix
Add one more to the list of Bad Girls:
Elaine Harmon, World War II veteran.
Her story never went in the history books,
but her granddaughter, ERC graduate
Erin Miller ’98, hopes to change that.
During World War II, the United States
solved a severe shortage of pilots by training female civilians to fly military aircrafts.
Harmon was one of the 1,100 women who
volunteered for the WASPs, or Women
Airforce Service Pilots, serving their
country for two years until the program
ended in 1944.
“They were told not to publicize what they
had done, and they went home and raised
families,” explains Miller. Initially, the
WASPs had to fight for military recognition,
only earning veteran status and retirement
benefits in 1977. Their eligibility to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery was
revoked in 2015, a month before Harmon’s
passing. That struck a nerve with Miller.
The family launched a grassroots campaign and petition that gained over 178,000
supporters and mass media attention.
In May 2016, a law was signed ensuring
that Miller’s grandmother, and all other
WASPs, can be buried at Arlington. Harmon was laid to rest alongside fellow
veterans this past September.
“My grandmother was passionate about the
legacy of the WASPs and hoped the next
generation would learn about these women,”
says Miller. In this spirit, Miller is working
on a book, Final Flight, Final Fight, to
share the history of the WASPs, the story
of her grandmother, and the fight to ensure equal recognition.
–Regina Limcaoco ’ 17
“Women’s history needs
— ANN SHEN ’06
to be told. It’s important
for us to cultivate empathy
and understanding for
each other so that we
know our collective story
as a people.”
Erin Miller ’98 (backright) with her grand-
mother’s fellow WASP pilots and cause
advocate Congresswoman Martha McSally.