Are Feminism and Gender Based Art Groups Relevant in The 21st Century?

Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, Barbara Longhi, Fede Galizia, and Artemisia Gentileschi, in a different world these names would be as familiar to us as Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, El Greco, or Caravaggio. These women artists were contemporaries of the the male masters we know so well.  Social mores of the times limited a woman’s  access to the resources and supports available to their male peers. How much have times changed? Do we still need gender based art groups to assist in advancing the careers of women artists?

Thursday, May 16, 2011 eight of us gathered at Brenda Oelbaum’s studio to discuss these issues. Young women artists don’t experience sexual inequalities the same way older artists have. Today women are gallery owners, art collectors and museum curators. Are women artists equally represented in prestigious galleries and museums? Corinne shared a New York Times article “Where are all the Women?” written in by Jerry Salz. He discusses how few women artists are on display in places like MoMA. In the fall of 2006, of 399 objects on view, 19 were by women. More recently Kyle Bachan wrote “Where are the Women in the Google’s Art Project?” in the MS. Magazine blog. Her own review of the 17 museums included as of February 2011, she counted only three women artists.

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We talked about defining “feminism.” stereotypes still exist that “feminists” are all lesbians or man haters. A broader definition was discussed defining feminism as a movement to encourage equal political, economic and social rights and opportunities for all people.

Margaret brought up the need for gender based groups to have a coherent business plan to slot women in with men on an equal basis. Part of this plan would require us to define an audience for our artwork. Much like what Oprah and Martha Stewart have done. We need to wake people up to the art women are doing. Our WCA group might want to consider future presentations by women art collectors who specifically collect women’s art.

Before completing this post I found short review of new documentary recently released called “Women Art Revolution: Enhancing the image of feminist art.” Lynn Hershman Leeson wrote and directed this film in which women artists talk about how their work was condescended to or ignored. They have also established a website RAW/WAR to archive the artwork of women.

This discussion was just a beginning we hope to continue this dialogue at future meetings.  Your comments here are encouraged.

A few of us will be in St. Louis in July for the WCA board meeting and an Art & Social Justice Conference. Our next meeting in Michigan will be August 18th. We plan to meet at Kathleen’s studio. Look for emails with details closer to the date.

Published by Babs

I'm a narrative sculptor navigating her way through the ever-changing currents in what feels like an art ocean. Whether appreciating the calm rhythm of calls for art and exhibiting, or waiting to catch a big wave of inspiration to take me to the top. I just love being in the water. Formerly a pickle packer, theater major, crisis counselor and occupational therapist with a BA in Communications and a BS in Occupational Therapy, only to discover I've always been an artist. My work grows from a strong connection to people and a passion for discovering the beauty in ordinary things. I sculpt figuratively in clay, utilizing the female form and women’s themes. Frequently my inspiration is drawn from childhood memories and my own short poems. Like each of us as humans every work is uniquely influenced by the past and present and has a narrative.

3 thoughts on “Are Feminism and Gender Based Art Groups Relevant in The 21st Century?

  1. Women Art Revolution will be playing in Detroit at the DIA from Aug. 19th till the 21st it would be great if a group could get together and get down to see it….sadly I will be leaving for Seattle on the 19th, but I would love to know how it was.

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