As summer stretches its legs in the Pacific Northwest, Nikki McClure's calendar is helping me count down the months. The cut paper artist seems to be everywhere now: on bookshelves, greeting cards, and fabulous retrospectives in museums opening this fall. McClure is known for her dramatic etchings of everyday life, resistance, and celebration. As Cinders Gallery puts it, "Armed with an X-acto knife, she cuts out her images from a single sheet of paper and creates a bold language that translates the complex poetry of motherhood, nature, and activism into a simple and endearing picture." She's been doing it for over a decade, and despite age, fame, and maybe a little fortune, seems to be as true to her roots as before. And that's what's so inspiring: a continuous evolution of radical art-making that doesn't sell out after life changes like having families or getting older.
Cristy C. Road, a Miami-raised, Brooklyn-based, Cuban-American illustrator, writer, and of course, total dreamboat, is no stranger to DIY, punk, queer, zine, and activist communities all over the place, and certainly no stranger to the pages of Bitch magazine. You might recognize her work from covers of books such as We Don't Need Another Waveand The Revolution Starts at Home, or maybe you've caught her on tour with Sister Spit The Next Generation when they rolled through your town, or perhaps you've flipped through an issue or two of Green Zine, or you stole your ex's copy of Bad Habits, or you saw her band play in someone's basement, or maybe you've never heard of her at all, but basically, she's a big deal, not to mention a badass. This is what happened when I sat down for a chat with her on a sunny Friday morning, pajamas on, and breakfast in hand. Cristy shared her feelings about everything from her art, to astrology, to racial dynamics in radical communities, to cats and brunch. It's all here for you to read, so let's get started!
Many feminists have praised praised Georgia O'Keeffe for her use of "female iconography" in her art (a.k.a. her vagtastic flower paintings). But O'Keeffe always denied this association as a conscious choice and instead claimed her art revealed the sensuality of nature... which to me sounds like pretty much the same thing. At any rate, O'Keeffe has been celebrated as one of the most influential American modernist artists and definitely deserves a place in Feministory, regardless of her feelings about her flowers' anatomical lookalikes.
At 25, Christi Furnas was diagnosed with schizophrenia. This queer-identified woman has used her disability as inspiration for making beautiful art and connecting with other mentally ill artists. Based in Minneapolis, MN, Furnas has been involved with Spectrum Artworks, an organization that serves as a community and studio space for artists with mental illness.
I emailed Christi recently to ask her about the truth behind the "madness = creativity" myth, her muse, and her views on being a mental illness/LGBTQ/feminist activist.
Some will say that there are technical considerations—the quality of rendering, the beauty of the language, or the composition of the scene make a difference between obscene and not, porn and art.
Personally, whether it's prize-winning literature, a cheesy film, or a fashion spread, my impulse to name the obscene, to pick up a black marker or start scribbling protests in the margins, depends a lot on who wrote, or painted, or filmed it. After all, you don't want your vision of the world hijacked by just anyone, even for a moment or an hour or a few hundred pages. Do you?
Tired of that worn-out trope that women are impossible to work with or aren't creative when they are "on the rag"? Well these five artists/projects are defying this belief, using menstruation as fuel for empowerment and art.
If I could time travel without, like, disrupting the space-time continuum, one of the many things I would tell a younger me would be that: It's not the interest in appearance that's wrong, it's how you do it. Fascination with the visual is something as broad as the history of human signing (as well as something that underlies ubiquitous ableism in the social and built environment, since not everyone has the ability to see said visual). Sometimes I like to put it in perspective for myself like this—if I were thinking about non-Western cultural and aesthetic forms, I would be less likely to criticize and more likely to think about these practices as a way of being culturally competent, enjoying shared symbols, and evoking continuity with a cultural history.
Isadora Duncan might be the most famous dancer you've never seen dance. Often referred to as the "Mother of Modern Dance," she was a self-made and intensely driven, confident woman who saw personal freedoms, expression, justice, and dance as essentially intertwined. Isadora once said, "For me the dance is not only the art that gives expression through the human soul through movement, but also the foundation of a complete conception of life, more free, more harmonious, more natural."
CALYX Journal begins its 36th year of publishing fine art and literature by women with its winter 2012 issue (vol. 27, no. 3). This self-described feminist literary journal allows women's voices to be front and center, which is why its four female founders created it in 1976. Referencing a recent survey conducted by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts the introduction in the summer 2011 issue of CALYX points out that women's voices are still highly marginalized in the literary journals and magazines, making their mission as relevant as ever.