Monday, October 26, 2015

Hear Me Roar

I am a feminist. I believe that women and men are equal and should be treated as such. Period. 

So many of the negative connotations associated with the word "feminism" have developed out of fear. In reality, these fears are unfounded and only serve to hold all of us—men and women alike—back. While we have come a long way in the United States towards this equality, we haven't come far enough. It takes consistent and persistent effort to overcome the status quo.

With as forward-thinking and progressive as many artists are, it seems like we shouldn't need to discuss the inequality of the sexes in the art world. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Consider these numbers:

  • Women run 25% of art museums with budgets over $15 million
  • These female museum directors make $.71 for every $1 their male counterparts make
  •  30% of artists shown in NY and LA galleries are women

Maura Reilly's Art News article "Taking the Measure of Sexism: Facts, Figures, and Fixes" takes a closer look at the current state of women in the art world. The Guerrilla Girls, who started their crusade in 1985, are still opening eyes to this inequality. More recently, sites like Gallery Tally are holding galleries accountable for these numbers with an ongoing tally of female representation in the art world. And the New York Times took on the topic with a great article, "The 'F-Word' in the Art World," by Siri Hustvedt.

All of this said, the real problem is not just with the art world. It's a larger, systemic cultural problem. I believe the only way we can address this issue is head more excuses. Society needs to put more women in positions of power (politicians, CEOs, museum directors, etc.) to help make change possible. Parents need to raise their daughters to be unapologetic about insisting on equality and raise their sons to support and respect women as equals. And above all, women need to stand together.

Monday, October 12, 2015

So You Want To Be an Artist...

"There’s no diploma in the world that declares you as an artist—it’s not like becoming a doctor. You can declare yourself an artist and then figure out how to be an artist." – Kara Walker, from Art21 interview

Ad in Popular Mechanics, January 1950

There are some professions that you just have to love to is one of them. It's a tough road filled with hard work, self doubt, criticism, and, of course, little money. Many artists will tell you that they always knew that's what they wanted to be; others find their way to art along the way. Either way, I believe it's truly a labor of love.

As Kara Walker points out in the quote above, going to college for art is not requirement. In fact, there is growing public opinion that incurring large amounts of student loan debt might not be worth it for many students. But, in the end, is a personal decision that each individual must make for themselves. For the artists who do decide to get their degree, I encourage them to remember that they are getting a degree in visual problem solving, not just art. They are learning to see the world differently. This is the inherent value of an artist. Once they develop this skill, they can apply it to ANY job, career, or profession.

The odds of "making it" as a rock star artist are slim. So, the creativity of an artist has to extend beyond the studio. To sustain an art career, an artist has to be creative in how they approach their time and work...thinking outside the box and being willing to do peripheral work. For me this has meant being a good "juggler." Essentially, I juggle multiple facets of the art world: publishing prints, consulting, working as a visiting artist, teaching workshops, packing and shipping art, assisting other artists...the list goes on. The end goal is to keep my business up and running.

Each artist finds their own way. Whether they build a successful career as a studio artist or choose to work in an entirely different field outside of the arts, there is no right or wrong answer.