In the Frame: The Exhibition's Over, Time to Review
I can't believe it's the end of my guest blog series already. Looking at he theme of art and feminism has raised loads of questions and also given lots of answers. We've explored artists who use hair and those who've experienced domestic violence, the woman who got a vaginal Damien Hirst tattoo, and the countless murdered and attacked females in Juarez, Mexico, who have been immortalized through the exhibition 400 Women. It's powerful stuff...
When I began this series I explained that I wanted to challenge the lack of female artists in galleries, and I hope that I've some of the talent out there that still needs to be seen. It's not good enough just to produce a token "Women's Exhibition" and segregate us in our own special category; we don't need to be put in a box like that. We need genuine integration into the mainstream art world. The struggle is even harder for non-white female creatives, who find themselves further marginalized. The only sort of categories we should be using in the art industry are those of medium (painting, drawing), movement (Dada, Cubism, Harlem Renaissance) or age (pre-Raphaelite, post-war, etc.).
During the series we've looked at artists in fiction and how their creativity is central to their characters, and we've also dwelt on the shock of the real. I showed you great feminist moments such as Valie Export's feminist manifesto and the iconic artwork that was produced by John Holmes for The Female Eunuch. You got a bit of a history lesson with the stories of Artemisia Gentileschi (my heroine) and the more recent work of Francesca Woodman, who has left a photographic legacy. We also touched on how women's rights are linked to art with the Votes For Women campaign and the visual work of the Guerrilla Girls. I hope that you found them inspiring and they made you want to see more!
I'd like to leave you with a plan of action. If you liked some of what you read, or you just feel like you want to be proactive regarding art and feminism, then here are a few suggestions for what to do next:
1. Promote feminist art as much as possible, and call for more visibility of women artists in your local galleries and museums. Champion the ones that strike a chord with you. Blog about them, Tweet about them, drag your friends kicking and screaming to the exhibitions if you have to.
2. Don't forget that feminists aren't always women. Look out for feminist themes in all art, not just work done by women. John Holmes made one of the most famous feminist images in the world, but obviously he is not the only man to cast women in a positive light.
3. Get creative. Whether you want to express yourself, or you happen to know someone who could do with an outlet for their emotions, give art a try. Art therapy has proven results and you'll also find that art classes are a great way to meet people and make new friends. It's cheap, easy and can be quite fun (unless you'd prefer to be a "frustrated artist" who lives in a garrett and wears a smock and beret—it's your choice).
4. You don't have to go to art college to be an artist. I found that my university tutors weren't overly helpful, but it was my teacher at 16 who really inspired me to go out and make more art. Perhaps formal artistic training wasn't for me, but there are plenty of other avenues you can explore—sell things on Etsy, show your work on Deviant Art, provide commercial stock photography on Shutterstock, promote your images on Flickr, set up a Tumblr account and use it as your sketchbook.
Thanks for reading this guest blog and I really hope you've found it useful. Remember to keep adding any female gallery or museum directors to our Bitch list and keep a look out for women in the art world. We're a force to be reckoned with!
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