One of my best friends got her first tattoo at 19. It was on her foot and it said Hakuna Matata. This set something off in me, a desire to do something permeant like that. But I was not brave like my friend, I stuck to poking holes in my ears. Then came the movement when thousands of women, all at once, went out and got, she persisted, tattooed on themselves. My friend was strange, exotic, how could she a young woman who still lived at home get a tattoo. No one else I knew lived life so dangerously. Women, it had always seemed to me, did not get tattoos; it was not only morally wrong but would also lead to regret. These women were not women you wanted to be associated with, they were sluts, they had no sense of foresight, they’re boring, or they’re just mentally ill or selfish. Continue reading “Tattoos and Women”→
If you flip through any book about art, from any time, on any movement, the artists that will be featured are primarily men. Historically, women’s relationship with art has not been a good one. Women have been involved in art in one of two ways. The first is when women were subjects of paintings and objects of male desire. Nude portraits, which have been prominent since the Renaissance, are predominantly of women. In addition, the women in these portraits are presented as shy, demure, and pleasing to men. They do not look at the viewer, but instead look off to the side, which shows weakness. They are lounged in a way that displays their sexuality for the pleasure of the viewer, but they in no way own their own sexuality.
When we think of the 1950s today, we think of a time of extremely biased gender stereotypes and strict gender roles. This affected every aspect of life, including one’s daily routine, school, politics, culture, movies, and even art. However, there are more nuances to the gender dynamic in the 1950s than simply very masculine men and very feminine women. Within the Abstract Expressionist art movement, women were treated similar to how they were in general society, but the expectations on them were more complex. Being both women and artists allowed the social requirements for women to be placed on them while also having to play the role of the artist. Simultaneously, they were supposed to be mothers and wives because they were women, but at the same time were not supposed to be mothers or wives because they were artists. They were supposed to support their husbands, many of whom were artists, but if they wanted to be taken seriously then they should prioritize their own art. Additionally, because of the subject matter of Abstract Expressionism, women were not only navigating the art world and social world, but they were also featured as negative themes in many paintings by men.
Abstract Expressionist was a prominent avant-garde art movement in New York City during the 1950s in the United States. Even though this movement features primarily male artists, female artists complicated the expectations of their gender. The gender dynamics of the 1950s in America were deeply imbedded within Abstract Expressionism through interactions between the artists and through the art itself. Men, such as William de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko, dominated Abstract Expressionism. All of these artists projected extreme masculinity through their art practice and mannerisms. At the same time, several female artists, such as Elaine de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, and Lee Krasner, were aware of this and were trying to find a space for themselves and for success through their own work.
I have been struggling to figure out what to say about the election, and what kind of post I wanted to write for this week. There is so much hurt right now. I am one of the lucky ones, whose circumstances have put me in a place of relative privilege that allows me to search for and find love. So mostly I want to listen. For this post, I decided to share three of my poems; the first two are about the most important women in my life, and the last is a love poem. I am hoping that I am lucky enough to have this little bit of light, and to give it. Continue reading “3 Poems”→
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a novel dating from the late eighties that I read recently with my book club. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the most fantastic book I’ve ever read, but it certainly made me think. It tells the story of Offred, a middle aged woman who is struggling to find her place in a society in transition. This novel was fairly dystopian, but what made it different than other dystopian novels that I’ve read is that I felt like this is something that I could see happening in my lifetime, practically at any moment. It was realistic, and it said something about American culture that scared me.Continue reading “Positive and Negative Liberty and The Handmaid’s Tale”→
All of us have painted a picture or done our best to make a space look better than when we found it. We might hesitate to call what we create art; however, we can’t let such ideas have control over our actions.
Women have been creating art for a myriad of reasons, but art from the past century has been made with a more specific purpose. Women have been working to change the status quo and fighting for gender parity and the diminishment of stereotypes in various ways, art being one of them.