It would be wrong to isolate artwork by men and artwork by women and put them at odds to each other. It is only because art by women has been marginalized–a mere second thought–for decades, that resources to educate and integrate female artwork has been crucial in the next step for understanding the whole of humanity in art. Because there truly IS a problem with the balance of women artists represented equally, both men and women are doing the right things and working toward changing the imbalance.
In this current age, there are many things that need speaking of, many things that need to be brought to light, that perhaps would be best accomplished by a female creator.
Out of the 29 statues in (Central) park, none are currently of real women. There are only fictional women, created by men, including Lewis Carroll’s titular character from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Shakespeare’s Juliet. – NYC Park Dept.
My sculptures of women are collected for many reasons. Sometimes a man gives a piece to their wife, mother, or daughters in order to say: ‘I am proud of you, you are amazing, you have done so much, you are graceful, powerful, nurturing, and triumphant’. Women often collect my works because it reminds them how to breathe and meditate, or how to feel free, beautiful and confident. And because I am a woman, I know what it feels to be a woman in my own body. I know the way I want to be perceived by others, and the way I feel about myself when I look in the mirror. I speak about the honest moments of my life when I am so broken only a divine light flows through me, or when I feel so whole I can nurture a baby.
I’m not a feminist. I’m an artist who happens to be a woman. – Louise Nevelson
I grew up with a mother who was very pro-female and pro-woman power. As I evolved as a woman, and an artist myself, I realized that her outlook was very biased. It was not fair to put blinders on and only see one side. As an artist, its our duty to be truthful and honest in our feelings and perceptions, even if they don’t fit our design.
Historically it is men that have owned and controlled the art world, and while they are still the highest earners and exhibitors, there is also a reason for this. Women have to make a choice; be competitive on that cutting edge world and give up all normalcy, or live a more rounded life, choosing to fall in love and mother children. I chose the latter, but of course I want it all. I know I am still a powerful artist, though I might never be grouped with Georgia O’Keefe, Tracy Emin, Yayoi Kusama, Rachel Whiteread, Kiki Smith, or Louise Nevelson, all of whom chose Art as their spouse and family.
As art critic Sophie Lloyd said, “(Tracy) Emin uses vulnerability to tell not only her own struggles, but the struggles that many women may face while finding themselves.”
I do not regret my choice to be a Mama and a Wife, as I feel I can speak of my honest life in my Art. I do not fight it; I am not a victim who has fallen into a ‘standard’ female role for I am anything but standard and typical. I am a strong woman, and I am also an Artist. There are no rules or boundaries except for what I place on myself. Of course I have to be patient with myself when cannot fit into the normal existence, (No, I cannot join your book club and I cannot join the PTA, and I am truly sorry but I cannot find time for a dinner party and a play date this week) and as lucky as I may be to do what I do, I have to understand that I am NOT typical and should not behave as if I am. When I try, it pulls me so far away from my work and my studio that I get frustrated and angry with myself. Balance is not unique to women, or to artists. My husband has a balancing act too and the story is a human one. I am lucky to have my family support and they understand me so that I can run away and create at any given moment.
Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time. –Georgia O’Keefe
Author and brain surgeon, Leonard Shlain wrote in his famous book, Alphabet vs the Goddess, that while we all have a unique mix of characteristics, in general, more left-brain traits (needed for hunting), such as sharp focus on a goal, sequential planning, rationality, abstraction, and analysis, are dominant in men. While women’s brains show dominance in right-brain traits such as soft focus on the whole environment or gestalt (“big picture”), nurturing, emotionality, openness, and sensuality.
To me, this just underlies the absolute necessity for WOMEN’S ART having equal visibility in museums, auction houses, international art fairs, monuments, and general fine art galleries. In order to understand the whole human picture, we all have to be present. I know my work is much more nurturing, open, sensual and gestalt than my male counterparts who tend toward the more rational, sharp and focused works. I am very happy to know this difference exists because it underlines the importance in all perspectives needed to tell our full stories. Who takes the time to really see a flower like Georgia O’Keefe does? And who takes the time to really see the way my husband holds our son to his chest?
It is not just and fair to put blinders on and only see one side and call it “Great” just because it is dominant. Adversely, I do not want to participate in a movement just because I am part of a missing ingredient. I am here because I have something to say, and it matters. I am 100% pure artist, no matter age, sex, or geography.