“There is something about a woman who raises her voice in public that is difficult for us as a society.. There is a sense of authority being a masculine quality”.
- Zinnie Harris, Playwright
If you have been living under a rock, you may not be aware that March is Women’s History Month. As part of an all-female staff at Fresh Arts, I can appreciate the importance of acknowledging other women’s achievements (if only it was all year round huh). Sadly, even in 2016 we are used to hearing about sexism in the world in general, and despite huge progress in gender equality in the last century, it still lingers. In a sector as ostensibly liberal as the arts, one would expect (or at least hope) that in this day and age, credit would be based on creative merit rather than the artist's ability to grow a beard..
According to Gallery Tally, a collaborative art project that invites artists all over the world to calculate and visualize the gender ratios at top contemporary art galleries, approximately 80% of BA and BFA graduates are female, and approximately 60% of MFA graduates are female. Yet, only 30% of artists represented by galleries are female. The issue is undoubtedly a national or even a global one, but it's happening right here on our doorstep too. Just a quick look at 8 of Houston's most popular contemporary art galleries reveals that we are barely above this national average, with just under 34% of artists represented being female. Since 2010, only one out of the six Hunting Prize winners has been a female artist. Of course it’s certainly not an issue that is specific to visual artists either, as discrepancies in compensation, representation, and recognition continue to permeate a variety of disciplines throughout the arts.
Luckily, I have the pleasure of knowing a whole host of innovative, visionary, and creative women who are constantly forging new paths in a competitive arts scene. So, with this being said, I am pleased to announce Bayou Boss Ladies, a ten-part blog series through Fresh Arts honoring ten of the most badass ladies making waves in the Houston art scene right now. The idea was borne from a brainstorming session between local artist and activist Carrie Schneider and Fresh Arts' marketing manager Ariel Jones. As both an arts administrator and a woman of color, Ariel was keen to instigate a program that, in her words, will “accentuate the creativity and the narratives of those who are often overlooked and overshadowed. Women, in particular, spend an exorbitant amount of energy trying to convince ourselves that we are worthy of our own accomplishments. It’s a shame. Bayou Boss Ladies is an attempt to not only recognize exceptional female creativity in Houston by saying, “we see you, you are amazing, own your success”, but it is also an instrument of encouragement for emerging female creatives.”
The series will culminate in an evening of cocktails and conversation with said Boss Ladies at the Fresh Arts Gallery at Winter Street Studios. Stay tuned for the first installment!
Without the invention of portable paint tubes, Monet would never have been able to paint outdoors. Andy Warhol's Factory would not have been much without silkscreen printing. Just like in everyday life, there are countless ways that technology has infiltrated the art world. It has changed everything - from the way we create art, to the way we consume it. Just as Pop Art was a reaction to Consumerism in the 1950s, Digital Art is the creative byproduct of our tech-centric age, and it is one of the most all-encompassing genres that art history has seen to date. Defined as "any art that is created with the help of a computer", Digital Art can be anything from an edited photo to a mural created by a paint squirting, wall climbing robot.
Now this does pose a slight problem - editing programs such as Photoshop - easy to use but not to master - not to mention Instagram, Facebook, and I-phone filters have lead to an over saturated and extremely polluted art market... Suddenly we have Kim Bloody Kardashian making coffee table books of Selfie Art and people like Richard Prince selling other people's pictures of their cats back to them for $90,000, What the hell is going on?? The ease of making things look arty and original has ironically stunted everyones ability to make anything look arty and original.
So that's the bad news. But is it all negative? While Insta-Art is an unfortunate side effect of the Digital Age, there are, conversely, a whole lot of benefits too, and here they are:
1. Say Goodbye to the Starving Artist Cliche
Ok, not totally. But, with the rise of social media, online art stores for emerging artists, and websites that are easy to create and manage (Hi, Weebly!) it's a hell of a lot easier to market, sell, network online and even make work than it was 50 years ago. Decreased physical marketing, space rental, and advertising costs allow arts organizations and artists to serve their communities more effectively without huge overhead costs.
2. Social Media Platforms are the New Galleries
Every visual artist can benefit from using social media. Images are king and get shared a lot more frequently and a lot more widely than that status you posted about your cat. Good news for visual artists who are often able to bypass commission rates and middlemen at conventional galleries and agencies.
3. International Art is (actually) International
Have you ever been to the Sistine Chapel? No? Me either (weirdly). But I bet you could pick its famous fresco ceilings out of a line up. In a survey of Arts Organizations, The point is there is less need for expensive and time consuming travel in order to experience the art of other countries. As such, today's art market is truly an international thing of beauty. With both galleries and auction houses operating on a global scale thanks to the internet and advances in transport, the art world gets smaller every day, and it's a great thing!
4. It's Like Oil Paint, But Better
It's just another development in the way art is created, guys, let's all calm down. Without the invention of portable paint tubes, Monet would never have been able to paint outdoors. Andy Warhol's Factory would not have been much without silkscreen printing. Without change there can be no progress, and progress is what this business we call art is all about.
5. Artists Unite! It's Collaborative, Man
Technology (and especially the internet) facilitates amazing collaborations between art and technology. A good example is The Creators Project - heralded as the future of art and technology - whereby artists and engineers come together to create an "interactive, real-time Instagram installation" called #Creators Live, which debuted at theCreators Project: San Francisco event at Fort Mason.
6. Outsider Art Can Come Inside
Outsider Art is a genre so-named by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972 as an English synonym for art brut ("raw art" or "rough art"). As the name suggests, it has long been overlooked by traditional galleries, museums and collectors. Now we all know that the internet can make anything famous, and a rise in interest in lesser known artists and art forms has led to a huge resurgence in Outsider Art exhibits and literature. Even fashionable Parisians are into it, so it must be a thing.
7. Think Outside the Box
Just like screen printing and oil painting before it, technology has allowed new avenues of creativity that would have been unimaginable just a few decades ago. My oldest friend's father Jonathan Keep, for example, has enjoyed a long career as a ceramic artist, but things really kicked off when he discovered the benefits of 3D printing. There are arguably more ways to create (and of course appreciate) art today than there ever have been before and it's only going to get more diverse and wacky with time.
8. Photo Sharing Facilitates Art Education
Pew Research Center discovered that a staggering 92% agreed that the internet has increased public engagement with (and knowledge of) the arts, There are various projects currently underway that help art reach the masses, including the Google Art Project, Artsy.com, Amazon Art, Artsicle, and various phone applications.
9. It's Good For the Environment!
Technology has helped to reduce waste in the industry as a whole, and for individual artists. Because of technology and the ability to share and send, traditionally printed media, digitally, less pamphlets and promotional materials are printed, and there is less waste on the part of the individual artist. Yay for a greener art market!
10. Wall Climbing, Paint Flinging Robots
British-born arts blogger living in Houston, Tx. A mixture of Street Art, Fine Art, Installation, and anything weird and wonderful. Follow me if that sounds like your cup of tea.