Tag Archives: inspiration

The Women of Art History Hold a Lot of Surprises

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Frida Kahlo

Researching the women of art history was both exciting and deeply disturbing for me. With Women’s History Month about to kick off in a few days and equality across the board in the national and global spotlight, I decided to dig a bit deeper and see what it was like for the women who went before me.
I studied art history in college. I have studied the Florentine Renaissance with none other than the director of the famed Uffizi Gallery’s daughter, a well-respected art historian in her own right. I have pored over books and books on the subject of art history on my own for nearly 20 years, as I love the subject. In another life, I would have loved to be an art historian.
All this is to say: I know my art history, but I had to dig back in my memory pretty hard — assisted by Google — to find a list of 12 women painters. (I stuck to two-dimensional artists, as that is my art form.)
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Joan Mitchell

When I look to the past for guidance, as artists often do. I do not see myself staring back at me. I see a sea of predominantly European men. I often ask the question: “Name five famous female artists.” Very few can do that. That is sad to me. Where were all the women?
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Mary Cassatt

They were there, painting, when they could. Historically, a woman’s life was primarily centered on caring for home and family. Hard to imagine, but even in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, woman were forbidden from the cafés of Europe. To be allowed into a circle of artists or a movement such as Impressionism, a woman needed a man to vouch for her, both among other artists and among the buying public’s perceptions.
Only three women ever made their way into the Impressionist group. And the rules were different for them.
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Artemisia Gentileschi

I also learned in my research that today, in 2017, statistically I make 22 percent less money than my male counterparts, and that potential buyers are more likely to by art from men, and only 30 percent of all artists represented in galleries are women.*
I have no answers for you, my dear reader, only the facts to lay before you, and the invitation to come along with me throughout March as we celebrate some extraordinary woman who, against all odds, did make the history books.
Let us learn, know, and celebrate! Look for this celebration on my Facebook page starting March 1.
As always let’s continue the conversation on Facebook and Instagram. Cheers!

The “Radical Act” of Enjoyment

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Current events have me thinking about the cause of women.
Years ago, in 2010, I started a series called “The Goddess of Wine.” I was inspired by the women in my life. I noticed the pressure they felt, the guilt when they did literally anything for themselves. I noticed something else, too: Society seemed to join in and judge women for doing for themselves.
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Prior to doing my art full time, I spent 16 happy years as a hairdresser. I loved my clients, and my heart would break a little when I’d hear their stories of guilt again and again. My male clients did not seem to suffer from this. These were amazing women, champions for their families and communities, giving it their all. Still, there was guilt. I think it’s high time for women to give up guilt and own their joy! I do not present these as facts, just my observations. After all, its my observations that form the basis for my art.
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As an artist, I wanted to do a series completely dedicated to the joyous, riotous celebrating of women, doing nothing but enjoying themselves. No apologies, no guilt — after all, you have to put your own oxygen mask on first.
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I haven’t painted anything in that series for a couple of years now, but I think it’s time to pull out these ladies to play again. I think the world could stand to see more women in the completely “radical act” of enjoying themselves. Revisiting last week’s blog, I guess artists can’t help but respond to current events.
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I have an exhibition coming up in March that will hang at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. This will be a series of landscapes, meant to soothe the soul. I’m still finishing up the final touches on that. But March is Women’s History Month, and you can bet I’ll be celebrating with the resurrection of the “Goddesses of Wine” series, as well as sharing information about my favorite female artists. I’m really looking forward to March! How about you?
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As always I love hearing from you, the best conversations happen on Facebook and Instagram. See you there.