On the Hunt for Great Women Artists
Today, as I write this is International Women's day and it struck me as a feminist and a woman, I ought to mark the day with a little more consideration than maybe I have done previously. It's odd isn't it, that we should allocate a day to women, as I don't believe there is a similar calendar event for men. Make of that what you will, I know what conclusions I draw from this.
I am no gender or feminist academic, and this blog is entirely subjective, however I qualify to speak of such things because for the last 54 years I have been a practicing woman. That smashes the 10,000 hours to be an expert rule!
We constitute 50% of the world population, thereabouts, but we do not however occupy 50% of the world space. What I mean by this is that women are rarely first thought of, quoted and represented. Look at the TV tonight and see how many of the top jobs, responsible offices and experts are women. It's the norm and takes effort to notice, question and challenge. It's improving but we've a loooong way to go. And why does it matter, because equality benefits everyone!
Stepping gently away from my legitimate soap box, and returning to my art focus. It's possibly surprising, given the male domination of the art world that my top two artists are female - Barbara Rae and Joan Eardley.
Their use of colour, gestural abstraction and emotion in their work fills me with inspiration. However, I am guilty time and again of stopping at male artists that appear in my google or library search, rather than really digging to find an equally brilliant female artist. They are harder to find, and see at exhibition, but like a valuable gem, that may make the discovery all the more precious.
In honour of International Women's day and the sphere I occupy, here are a few intentions I am committing to in an endeavour to be more informed about, inspired by and promotional of women artists.
Seek out exhibitions showcasing female artists, rather than the names I know and recognise, which are invariably male.
Reading more about female artists - there are a number of books recently published looking solely at the role of female artists. I've read Broad Strokes, which was good, also available on Audible if you like to listen to books, but if I'm honest it underdelivered for me. More biographical than really delving into their art. I am on the search for great books about women artists and their practice, rather than solely their biography. Recommendations would be really welcome. Thanks!
I've began a female artist Pinterest board to lead me down any number of fabulous rabbit holes. You can follow me or create your own board to return to for research and inspiration.
I often use quotes in my Instagram feed, mostly from male artists. So I am on the search for relevant and meaningful quotes, and their back stories from our female cohort. It will lead me to learn more about them and may make others explore further too.
My final thought - and it is just that, not a fully formed thesis so bear with! It's not always easy, but I suspect we all endeavour to call out inequality, unacceptable behaviour and question the subtleties of everyday sexism. However, I believe we need to go further and aim to eradicate 'wallflowerness'. The tendency to sit back and wait till we have all the answers, not step forward until invited and agonisingly question our expertise. These are traits I have rarely seen in men and I applaud them for it. This is not about putting men down, but raising women up. Building confidence in ourselves and others.
So let's celebrate us and our art, and commit to occupy the space which is rightfully ours. The world with thank us for it!
PS - I wasn't sure where to include this but here seems as good a spot as anywhere. Two really thought provoking books which have opened my eyes and seen me shelve my razor - SHOCK HORROR!
Everyday Sexism & Women Don't Owe You Pretty
I'd love to know what you think!