Art and Gender
An art gallery patron, when he finally met me, said he had spent
hours looking at my artwork and trying to guess my gender. My
name, of course, gave him no help. Another one loudly gave the
opinion that the assemblage medium suits women - home
decorating and nest-making were the terms, I think. These
comments made me wonder about the relationship between art
and gender, the object and the sex of its maker.
I am pleased to be a woman, and pleased to be an artist, but a
woman artist? I don't define myself thus, any more than as a
short artist or an aging artist, though these are as valid. I'm
sure that my experiences as a woman significantly colour my
art, just as my age must influence my thoughts and so my work.
It's not that I deny any of the categories which describe me, or
seek to belittle their influences on my life and my work, it's that
I question the centrality of the definition. The categories are
relevant, but not dominant.
I have been reluctant to be part of women-only exhibitions,
hoping that my art can stand alone, without needing protection
because of my gender. These politically correct and careful
times have been kind (to all but white males), but the art is the
thing. Like an author who won Lotto - enjoying the proceeds,
but still wanting, and trying, to succeed in the chosen field.
Protected status can be felt as an insult when it's not sought.