~from Michaela Hayes

Portrait of Carrie Brownstein
Image credit Maarten de Boer/Contour by Getty Images

Carrie Brownstein is a renaissance woman. In her 43 years of life she has pioneered a feminist movement, co-written an award-winning show, and written a memoir about the process of it all.

Brownstein was born and raised in Washington where she stayed until after graduating from Evergreen State College in Olympia. Her location as a young adult is particularly pertinent — the “riot grrrl” movement originated in Olympia, a punk-feminist music trend which spurred third-wave feminism, a shipped Brownstein helped steer.

Her first band, Excuse 17, was short-lived but influential. Her second band, Sleater-Kinney, is known as one of America’s great rock bands (and I concur.) It was formed in 1994 by Brownstein, Corin Tucker, and Janet Weiss. Their musical style is raw, unapologetically angry and their lyrics are awe-inspiring. I once briefly transcended my body while listening to their 2005 album The Woods. Brownstein’s guitar riffs are nothing short of virtuosic.

Sleater-Kinney took a hiatus in 2006 and reconvened in 2014, but in the meantime Brownstein kept herself busy. She created Portlandia with Fred Armisen, the show most people know her for. The show was conceived in 2005 as a series of internet comedy sketches titled ThunderAnt. The show was eventually pitched to IFC and premiered January 21st, 2011. The show’s eighth and final season concluded on March 22nd. Outside of just writing and acting for Portlandia, Carrie also portrays Syd in the groundbreaking show depicting a transgender parent and her children, aptly named, Transparent.

And the final artistry we will celebrate Carrie Brownstein for is her memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl (2015). The book centers around her experience as a woman punk rocker in the male-dominated world of rock and roll as well as her childhood spent in a turbulent family and an adulthood spent in a turbulent industry.

Carrie Brownstein’s grit, drive, and gift for words have worked their way into American culture as we know it today and I personally believe we are much better off for it.

If you are interested in reading more, here are some recent interviews with Brownstein: