Art therapy has been used for years on patients who are dealing with trauma in all its forms, whether they are suffering from cancer, struggling to fit into a community that isolates women of a certain age or race, or rebuilding their lives following rape and domestic violence. A lot can be gained from this sort of psychological approach, as it allows patients to express themselves (which, in some cases, they have never done before). This therapy is not only a tool for coping, it's also a source of great and deeply personal art.
This blog series isn't just about women who produce art—it's also about the women who support and promote it. Like most industries, gender inequality is rife in the art world, but I thought it only fair to find out who is representing us and if there looks to be a shift towards more female directors of galleries and museums.
The cover art for Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch is world famous. I want to work out why it's so good, and how the original has led to so many great interpretations. Let's meet the legendary torso...
As one of the most controversial artists of modern times, Tracey Emin has generated serious column inches for her overtly personal work, including the installation My Bed (complete with condoms) and her series of autobiographical appliquéd blankets, littered with swear words. David Bowie called her "William Blake as a woman." But is she standing up for women everywhere with our shared life experiences, or is she only interested in using herself as subject matter?
Great artists don't just have to exist in galleries. Books have given us some really inspirational pre- or post-feminist characters that are good at art, and this liberates them either emotionally or physically. What unites them is their independent thinking, as they are determined to go against the grain and not end up like their peers, bitter or vacuous. Some examples here are from classic novels, such as Jane Eyre, where art is a form of escapism for our heroine, whereas in Andrew Davidson's modern novel The Gargoyle we find a sculptress whose work is so consuming that it leaves her exhausted. Whatever the situation, it is clear that these women take their art seriously—it's not just a hobby to keep them occupied before they're whisked off by Prince Charming. This is so much better than a fairytale.
Feminism and art aren't as closely linked as they should be, but I want to change that. Too many women are excluded from being called "the great artists," as if we require a separate category. Well, I want to give Bitch readers and art lovers everywhere a reason to celebrate strong females in the art world.
Office chairs upholstered in mourning fabric, Arabic calligraphy covering white walls like black foliage, and graphic patterns with horrific details—these are just a sampling of Parastou Forouhar's multimedia artwork.
The latest book to grace the shelves of Bitch's virtual bookstore is Who is Ana Mendieta?. Part comic book, part eulogy, and part social critique, this book is a unique graphic retelling of the life and legacy of conceptual and land artist Ana Mendieta by artists Christine Redfern and Caro Caron.
Brooklyn-based artist Lorna Simpson produces visual works that both isolate and confront conventional views on identity, ethnicity, and history. A majority of her recent work portrays black American women casually posed in standalone scenes or everyday interactions, inviting viewers—herself included—to question what divisions exist between society's past and present.