Forces of Nature opens at the Stables Gallery this Saturday.
Featuring the work of four female Taos artists, it is a variation on a theme begun earlier this year with the highly successful exhibit at the Harwood Museum (Work by Women), co curated by Janet Webb and Judith Kendall.
Soon thereafter, Maye Torres too, showed work by women at her new gallery (Studio 107 b), although the list of women artists working in Taos (she compiled), proved too long to be accommodated in her space.
“I’ll just have to do more shows,” she said at the time.
Clearly there’s no shortage of women making art, why then are so few represented in museums and galleries worldwide. Compared to their male counterparts?
The assertion by the feminist artist Judy Chicago that only 2.7% of art books concern female artists, is disheartening.
So are the stats; It‘s estimated that only around 5% of the work featured in major permanent collections worldwide is by women.
This isn’t a new problem, or an unexamined one. Vogue recently highlighted female artists tackling gender bias in the industry and just prior to that, the Huffington Post announced that “For the foreseeable future, art fans venturing to NYC’s palace of modern art will be ogling over male artists, and a lot of them.”
Last year, The Guardian declared the art world has “airbrushed” women artists out of history.”
While all of these pieces point out the disappointing numbers, they don’t explain why the ratio from art school to the real world ends up being flipped so dramatically.
Why are there so many female art students, and so few female artists being exhibited?
“Sexism,” say most women in the art word. A NYC gallerist friend who prefers to remain anonymous, told me that “as far as women being encouraged to pursue their careers, they absolutely are, but they are just not being given the same opportunities after graduating.”
“And If you are trying to break into a market that is already predisposed to men (70 percent to 30 in the gallery world), for instance, your chances of success are significantly less,” she said.
“The entire system is already stacked against women artists.”
“Besides, the fact that we’re still asking this question,” she explains, “is a reminder, that now more than ever, we still live in a patriarchy.”
It’s clear that there’s a major problem in the art world — but how do we solve it?
Contemporary curators of all genders must strive to bring this work (by women), forward,” my friend continued. “But the more business-focused parts of the art world — as an industry, not just a creative art form — continue to exclude women.”
It’s been my observation too, that women artists juggle both motherhood and career, while their male counterparts are far more blindsided when it comes to their art; I’ve never seen a male painter put down his brush to change a diaper, for example.
Artist Marina Abramović has even stated that she purposely avoided having children in order to maintain her career. In a quote from an interview, Abramović says, “In my opinion that’s the reason why women aren’t as successful as men in the art world. There’s plenty of talented women. Why do men take over the important positions? It’s simple. Love, family, children—a woman doesn’t want to sacrifice all of that.”
The glass ceiling in art still exists, then – but women in the arts are determined to break it.
Meanwhile here in Taos, women artists, continue to defy the odds, both in the studio as well as in our local galleries and museums, and this show at the Stables is no exception. Women are nothing if not forces of nature themselves!
“Forces of Nature” opens on July 14th at 5pm at The Stables Gallery. The show will run for one week only, featuring the work of four female Taos artists:Beverly Branch-oil painting, portraits in situ, Shera Maher-oil paintings, abstract, Kimberley Henkel-bronze sculpture and jewelry and Noel Anderson-sculpture, assemblage.
For more information please visit the TCA site linked below.
All images thanks to the artists.