Photography by Shana Traganoska
Words by Laura Neilson
Hair & Makeup by Frederic Boudet
With her new organization, Two by Two Media, photographer Gigi Stoll has the opportunity to be of service to female artists over 70. This striking Texan believes the best way to get out of your own head is to help others.
Fashion models who have gone on to pursue multi-hyphenate careers are not uncommon, but few have done so with such a profound impact as Gigi Stoll. The Texas-born model, whose 25-plus-year career in front of the camera eventually compelled her to turn the lens onto others—first snapping away at the fascinating characters and scenes around her for the pages of Vogue and esteemed art galleries, before refocusing on humanitarian initiatives on faraway continents. For Stoll, the urge to help others, whether strangers or friends, has always been an intrinsic one. “I feel that we learn the most from children and elderly. And we need to take better care of both,” she remarked recently.
Her actions mirror her words. In 2020, Stoll founded Two By Two Media, an organization providing technical and marketing support for older female artists. Later this year, Stoll and her artists will celebrate a major milestone with Two By Two’s first group show in New York at the Carter Burden Gallery.
I feel like everything is serendipitous in our lives. I was on the modeling circuit for about 20 or 25 years. I traveled all over the world, I met amazing people. And it also introduced me to my passion. I worked with all these incredible photographers and artists, and one day one of my friends gave me a Polaroid camera—a really old one. I started taking pictures of my model friends because, you know, they were all gorgeous. And the pictures ended up in a magazine. And then I was a photographer, all of a sudden. Someone hired me to shoot a tattoo convention in Amsterdam, and the pictures ended up in a show here in New York, at a very prestigious gallery on the Upper East Side. And then all of a sudden, I became a fine art photographer.
As a model, I understood how it felt to be photographed; how intimate it is, and how important it is to connect with your subjects. It’s a gift for someone to share their time, and their energy with you to be photographed. I feel like the greater the connection, the better the portrait. I really wanted to bring that into what I was doing. When you really have a strong connection with somebody, you feel it—you both feel it.
Above Gigi's sofa hang artworks by Cabell Molina and Nancy Blum.
"I started Two By Two to help female artists over 70 years of age. I really wanted to give them a platform and a voice to show their work. I had started thinking during the pandemic how there must be so many female artists at home sitting on these enormous archives, but they have no idea how to promote it, how to do any kind of social media, how to put together a website. And it just kind of grew."
Teaching nonagenarian artist Sheila Schwid how to use social media is one of Gigi's tasks on her weekly studio visits.
How do I choose the artists I work with? I really have to be impassioned by their work. I have to be crazy about their work, and so passionate about it that it’s my pleasure to work for them for free because I believe in it so much. And early on, I chose to work with only women artists because I really feel their work is undervalued.
"The best way to get out of your own head is to help others. Whenever I’ve had difficulties in my life, I go volunteer, and that changes everything."
My goal is that this will grow organically. Maybe there will be chapters for different cities, so that these artists will always have the wherewithal and the resources to get what they need.
The more we come together, the more we can change the world. Women, especially. Women have no idea how much power we have. Some of us do—don’t get me wrong—but I wish more collectively.
DISCOVER MORE ABOUT GIGI STOLL
Learn more about Two by Two Media
TWO BY TWO MEDIA - STUDIO VISITS