As an art gallery founded by a woman, we thought to look at the works of the women artists we work with, to honor them this month, and every month!
March is the time that we take a moment to look at the women who have added to, and enhanced our lives. Being a woman, I am all for this, and with that in mind, I wanted to look to the works of the women artists that The CAMP Gallery has the honor to work with, and draw attention to the honesty of the feminine voice. So, I came up with Looking at The CAMP’s Women, knowing that the title alone can bring one down a few different, and well-trodden, paths.
I remember my mother presenting me, one Christmas morning in the late 70’s, with a beautiful art book, introducing me to the works of Italian artists Sofonisba Anguissola and Artemisia Gentileschi. She told me that they were hardly ever spoken of, simply because they were women. Even in my eleven year old mind, that didn’t seem right—but I didn’t really know what that meant, being overlooked solely because of gender. I wondered how come Da Vinci and others of that period were so appreciated, but not these women. I could not tell from my childlike gaze what made the works of Anguissola and Gentileschi so “second rate.” The truth of the matter was, and is, that these women artists have never been “second-rate.” Their only failing is their gender , and patriarchal order’s need to limit access of the Other, including the woman, into their sacred bastions of what is art, and obviously what is not.
It has become fashionable to break up our calendar year into ‘special’ months: Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month and so on and so forth. It seems to be just another way that society keeps the Other away from the standard, and accepted, representative of what a society idealizes and holds dear. For this art observer, and this is not to diminish any of the creative male artists, I do wonder why this is still the case today, this division of everything by gender, race, orientation, and that the qualifier is just not the action. In this case, it’s the art; never judged solely on its merits, but discussed and applauded, or not, often because of the gender of the artist.
Looking through this sort of card catalog-style selection for this online exhibition, I do not see these artists, and myself, as women—only as artists. Shouldn’t we all do this? Isn’t the art the important thing in this conversation? Isn’t the action what we should be paying attention to? There is no greater technical skill between the sexes in who holds a camera, a paintbrush, a pencil, or a thread better, but what I do see is a less stylized, gender-specific objectification of subject, so often the fodder of non-feminine artists (no shade, really). This is where I find the sublime honesty of the feminine artistic voice/ The subjects in these works, are not sexualized nor reduced, not necessarily idealized, rather what I can identify as beings, objects, works of art. And so, because this is my reaction to the art before me, that it is just art and holds an integral and intentional value based upon its composition, application of paint, depth, perception, balance (all the things art is judged by,) I am still wondering why I am creating an online exhibition just of women artists in The CAMP Gallery’s roster for this month. I can’t help but wonder, could there not just be an American Hero Month, A Charity Month, or an Art History Month?