Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gender Politics in Art

The exhibit and artist lecture, called Female Forms and Facets: Artwork by Women from 1975 to the Present, at Central Connecticut State University was curated with the idea of giving women artists a place to say what they wanted to say and express what they wanted to express.

It featured original art work by Judy Chicago, Cindy Sherman, Judy Fox, Janine Antoni, Penny Arcade (not her real name), Lisa Yuskavage, Sara Risk, Carolee Schneemann (who spoke) and Candice Raquel Lee.

Feminism has never been an option for me, it is a survival mechanism, I was born a feminist. It is painful to watch women betray women in attempts to be competitive, careerist, sarcastic, cynical, and clever in the climb to the patriarchal top of the postmodern heap.

"Feminism is the radical notion that women are people." This is so obvious, why is it that feminist issues are up again? Didn't we take care of things in the second wave of feminism? No, then a quieter third wave is upon us.

Since Art perpetuates culture, and cultural stereotypes distract women from the real work of becoming a whole person, I will be writing more on this.

VENUS OF WILLENDORF: In ancient cultures, women had true power. The Venus of Willendorf is an idealization of the female figure, the Mother Goddess or universal mother. Suggesting fertility, and a symbol of security and success. Is this female form attractive? Is this our cultural ideal of beauty?

VENUS SCULPTURE by JUDY FOX 2004. What about this image? Notice the placement of the hands in both sculptures.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Critical Theory III "Who is Speaking?"

Critical Theory is best understood when we can relate it to our experiences. Here is a section of my second paper, a thought piece called "Who is Speaking?" You can download the PDF (by clicking on the name of the paper), if you want to read more. I stuck to the word count, so it's not that long. Any comments are always welcome.

"While traveling in Afghanistan, I was wearing a traditional Mexican blouse that was skillfully embroidered. Upon walking into an embroidery shop in Kabul, an old man who owned the shop, excitedly stood up and approached me when I came in. He reached out to examine the blouse closely. He was so enthralled with the embroidery; he cast aside strict social norms and touched the embroidered blouse at my shoulder. I was not afraid; all he saw was the embroidery. I understood his behavior and recognized his passion.

It was not only the craftsmanship, but also the stylized symbols that cause his excitement. Embroidery and rug making motifs are shared among the nomadic tribes that cross borders between Russia, Iran, Pakistan and India. The taboo of touching a woman in public was outweighed by this man’s astonishment and admiration for the folk art embroidery created by Mexican culture. Art speak across time and continents from one culture to another. Art does not have borders. Paradoxically, I was not important to either culture, yet without me, this meeting wouldn’t have happened. Thinking about this, I determined that there must be a ‘universal’ language of art. Why do primitive symbols look similar or in some cases the same regardless of time or place, worldwide?"