Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Problem Isn’t All-Female Art Shows by Hannah Rubin

This is a good article and interesting facts about women in the arts.  I have edited the article to reflect some of the statements I feel are important. 

Thanks for reading Cindy

The Problem Isn’t All-Female Art Shows

"Last week, Guardian art critic, Adrien Searle, penned a searing critique of “Champagne Life,” the current exhibit up at Saatchi Gallery in London. In his opening remark about this high-stake all-female art show he wrote: “It’s hard to see the point of this flat, gimmicky exhibition that lumps together 14 women artists, but declines a deeper discussion into gender.”

I can’t help but fume at the quiet sexisms that undercut the basis of his critique. It is difficult to imagine Searle, or any other critic for that matter, walking away from a mediocre all-male show with the condemnation that the “show asks us to do nothing more than ‘celebrate’ some very different artists” while criticizing the curation as “weak” because the lack “of discussion of gender.”

Alas, yet another example of the privilege of occupying the neutral space in society, reserved exclusively for the (white, heterosexual, normative) male. Where creative autonomy is a given: freedom to make work about anything you damn please, without having to legitimize it by referencing your life experience.

When Searle draws our attention to the lack of a “deeper discussion into gender,” essentially, he is asking: “What’s the point of having this all-female exhibition?” To which I respond, in an equally biting tone: Cultural survival. ......................................

It’s important for women to be reminded of our history, as well: that we weren’t allowed to make art for a very long time. And of our present: according to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, only five percent of art currently on display in U.S. museums was made by women. Only 4% of the work shown in the Metropolitan Museum’s contemporary section is female made. While 80% of those that graduate with a Bachelors in Fine Arts are female, only 30% of those represented by galleries in the U.S. are female. The numbers make it very clear that women artists are not receiving the same kind of institutional support or legitimacy that male artists are. Not to mention how much more drastic the inequity becomes as you scale down in privilege, to artists of color, trans and queer folks, non-English speakers and disabled people.............

Last year, I worked on an interview project for The Sisterhood that talked to a variety of female artists, in an attempt to learn more about their individual art projects and their experiences as women in a male-dominated art space. I wanted to dig deeper: what was it that was causing women to drop out from the art world in such staggering numbers?

Again and again, artist after artist, I was told the same thing: I don’t want to be seen as a female artist. I just want to be seen as an artist. The work I make has no more to do with my gender than the work my male colleagues make has to do with their gender. Why am I constantly being forced to talk about it?................................

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