Art and plumbing, what’s the diff?

In reality, none. In the bad old days, only men were considered to be “serious” artists. Just recently I read an article that only 5% of the artists in art museums were women. This statistic comes from http://www.nmwa.org/, the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Nightscape, the city at night.

Nightscape

This is not right. At one time, the fact that women were forced by whatever society they lived in, with a few exceptions, to be brood mares, with no attention paid to the female mind. It was believed that women could not make serious art! This was part of the bad old days. Sadly, some wrong headed notions still remain!

When I was a young artist and a young mother, I found that attitude infuriating and impossible to escape. It bothered me that while I was seriously working, many of the men in my art classes were not seriously working, unless it involved partying. Yet their obviously dashed off “work” and I use that term loosely, was taken seriously whilst mine and the other women in there, had to work twice as hard to get taken seriously than Mr. Party Time.

I found that to be pervasive and impossible to get away from, and in many ways it’s still a part of the art world. I had kids when I went to art school back in the late 80’s and early 90’s; because I had kids, I was automatically put into a box labled “woman, not serious, KIDS-BAD!” I had hoped over time, that this wrong headed notion would eventually die it’s well deserved death. Nope.

Here we are, in the 21st century and still, ideas that plumbing is an indicator of art worthiness is sadly still with us. I find it in the attitudes of some curators, as well as some galleries (caveat, the curators and gallerists I’m currently working with are wonderful men with none of these silly notions). I find that women are still underrepresented in the galleries, as well as the curatorial field. Unless of course we do cutesy art, with puppies and kitties (urgh!). I’ve given up signing my art with my full name. I only use my initials. I have found, since I started doing that, that I get more inquiries on the art, from those who normally would not ask a woman artist about her work.

I have found, since I started doing that, that people automatically assume my husband did the piece. They don’t tend to ask, they do tend to assume. Particularly my nudes, but it does extend to all of my work. Once they find out, after admiring the work, then the viewer usually is willing to hear what I have to say. But the majority of those that view, also automatically assume that the man made the art work at first.

I’d like to see that changed, and the way that we go about it is to demand that museums give women their equal dues. Museums show what the public demands and if We, the Public, demand to see art from female artists, then it will happen. Women deserve their shot at history too, not just Cassat and O’Keeffe.  I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to go down in history; not that I don’t want to, I do, but I don’t see that happening. Not just my plumbing, but also my age. That is a whole nuther posting…

I wish I could get into a museum. I’d love to be able to live off of my work, but as a woman, in a Depression that we don’t call a Depression, I know that is not possible. What I would like to see, is that possibility for the female artists that are out there now, for the women that come after me, to have the chances I didn’t. For that to happen, women, we have to make it happen.

Women may get paid less, but we are the bulk of the work force. Women are now the bulk of grad schools, and of colleges overall. I think that as we women step into the professional arenas that men have left, perhaps this will change. I sure hope so. I hope that the new female workforce will influence those who run the galleries and the museums to change this situation. With our donations, with our comments and with our purchasing power, we women can make a difference. I hope for the day that a kid can be an artist with an equal chance, no matter if they pee standing up or sitting down.

An artist is an artist is an artist; no matter what the plumbing.

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