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Artist Micol Hebron’s current project, Gallery Tally, counts the gender ratios of art gallery rosters. This crowd-sourced projects has artists count the number of men and women represented by a gallery and create posters representing those numbers.

A poster by Melanie Pak for the Van Der Plas Gallery in NY. 93% men, 7% women.

A poster by Melanie Pak for the Van Der Plas Gallery in NY. 93% men, 7% women.

MFA programs are 65% to 75% women, but the current gallery system is 70% men. Actual quotes from gallerists asked by Hebron about gender ratios in their galleries:

  • “Women do not have the same drive or passion for their art as men do — they are not willing to die for their passions.”
  • “Women are not as prominent in the art world because they become mothers.”
  • “We don’t have that many women artists, but we do have a gay artist — does that count?”

And some bonus Facebook comments from the Hyperallergic interview (If you couldn’t guess, these are both older, white men):

SadWhiteBoy1 SadWhiteBoy2

It’s sad to see so many people who, even when confronted with cold, hard facts, are completely unable to see things from another point of view. Bonus points to these guys for pulling out the good old “But maybe men are just better!” argument, as well as shoehorning in a complaint about political correctness and that oh so scary feminist agenda. Watch out men! Feminists are everywhere and they’re coming for youuuuuuuu!

Read an interview with Hebron at Hyperallergic and check out the Gallery Tally on tumblr! Get out there and count some rosters, make some posters, and point out the ridiculously unfair gender representations in today’s gallery market. As for me? I have some gallery rosters to take a look at…

Museums have long been seen as the keepers of culture. They are romanticized, seen as places for learning and spiritual quests, and are considered to represent a national identity. However, museums are often not just a reflection of culture, but one of the many authorities that interpret and construct cultural narratives. These narratives are not necessarily all-encompassing or truthful. Museums are susceptible to the same cultural influences as their communities, and often present imperfect, sexist, racist, and homophobic interpretations of history. Art museums exist as a highly gendered space, and this is reflected in their architecture, included artists, and subject matter of the exhibited artwork.

Art museum exteriors have long been coded as highly masculine. This begins with who is allowed to design the museum, as men dominate the world of museum architecture. Most creators of the enormous, contemporary facades trendy with today’s museums are white men. Even in architecture firms including women partners and employees, the firm is presented as male. Because of this, the public facades of art museums are, for the most part, created by men. Additionally, because museums often use monumental scale to signify power, tradition, and status, they are perceived as masculine due to the conflation of monumental scale with masculinity.[1]

Zaha Hadid, Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, 2003

Zaha Hadid, one of the few women architects well-known in the field of museum architecture, Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, 2003

In the late 1800s the French bourgeois elites embraced the museum as a monument of their cities and of themselves. This resulted in museums becoming more monumental and much more lavish. Museum construction was directly tied to the appearance of those in power, which relates to contemporary ideas of power and monumental masculinity. One Marseille city councilor advocating for museum construction funds said, “the visitor going through the rooms, the gardens, the walks, must be able to say: This is truly the work of a great city!”[2] The elite wanted greatness, and they conflated greatness with monumental architecture referencing times of glory and past masters. Today’s standard art museum entrance still references the style developed as a result of these desires, featuring a grand entrance complete with ceremonial stairway as well as inscriptions of the names of artistic “geniuses,” always white men. Upon approaching the museum, a visitor is immediately influenced by the size and the presentation of great men in art.[3]

The interior space of museums allows the artwork to set the tone. Rooms upon rooms of white male artists makes it very clear: women and people of color do not create great art worthy of the museum. The Guerrilla Girls’ infamous 1989 poster featuring a reclining female nude wearing an aggressive-looking gorilla mask asks, “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum? Less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female”.[4] This leads directly into the next gendered issue of art museum collections; nearly all of the figures depicted are women.

Guerrilla Girls, Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?

Guerrilla Girls, Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?

Why are women always the ones being looked at? This question is addressed in Laura Mulvey’s influential article, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” in which Mulvey argues that films are constructed with the idea of the viewer as male. Because of this, women are consistently depicted as objects for the male gaze.[5]

The male gaze has a strong presence in art museums. If all of the creators are men, and the depicted figures are women, we are more likely to identify with the creator of the work who existed and worked in the same space we now occupy as viewers. According to Carol Duncan in her article, “The MoMA’s Hot Mamas”, “The collection’s recurrent images of sexualized female bodies actively masculinize the museum as a social environment. Silently and surreptitiously, they specify the museum’s ritual of spiritual quest as a male quest.”[6] By including primarily male artists and showing mainly female nudes, art museums are placing museum visitors in the role of masculine creator and viewer. This enforces the initial reading of the museum exterior as a masculine space by showing the interior as a space for the male gaze.

Willem de Kooning, Woman I, 1950-52, oil on canvas, 6' 3 7/8" x 58"

Willem de Kooning, Woman I, 1950-52, oil on canvas, 6′ 3 7/8″ x 58″

An ideal example of how museums indicate gender roles of viewer and those being viewed is found in the placement of Willem De Kooning’s Woman I in the MoMA’s Modern Art collection. Woman I is a male-created painting of a woman. With violent and suggestive brushstrokes, this painting is seen as “vulgar, sexual, and dangerous.”[7] With references to powerlessness stemming from the mother and even vagina dentata, Woman I makes it clear that great Modern Art is born from building up and tearing down women. The act of painting, of depicting a person using your own point of view, is an act of power. Visitors learn from the work they view who has power and who does not. By placing Woman I at the entrance of the Modern Art rooms MoMA is informing the visitor that women are looked at while men are the creators and the ones who look.[8]

 

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New bird oil paintings! 6" x 6" on panel with gold leaf.

New bird oil paintings! 6″ x 6″ on panel with gold leaf. Three parrots and a bluejay.

Finally posting some new bird paintings! Parrots have been popular lately. They’re incredibly fun to paint with their bright feathers and intelligent expressions.

Of this bunch, the orange parrot is a commission, the upper right green parrot is my half of an art trade, and the bluejay is headed to an exhibit of small works (more on that soon!)

The lower left parrot is still available! This piece is titled “Green Parrot Beauty Shot” and is currently for sale in RIT’s Shop One² for $65.

Bird oil paintings. Parrots and a bluejay.

Me and my flock!

The goldfinch peeking out on the right is shown in progress, and was also made for an art trade. I’ll post some of the great art trades I’ve received soon! I’m lucky to be friends with so many talented artists.

Representations of the male figure in art are far less common than works depicting women. A long history of straight men dominating the art world has led to many images of winsome women, but fewer of beautiful men (I’ve written on this subject before; if you’d like to read more about the lack of male figures in art check it out here).

Every Female Gaze Friday I will post a woman-created work of art depicting a man—one small act to reverse the male gaze! Not all images will be provocative, many will be nonsexual or even disturbing. Hopefully this will be a way of learning more about women artists (as well as looking at dudes)!

This week we’ll look at a series of erotic paintings by feminist artist Joan Semmel:

Joan Semmel, Intimacy-Autonomy, 1974, oil on canvas, 50" x 98"

Joan Semmel, Intimacy-Autonomy, 1974, oil on canvas, 50″ x 98″

Joan Semmel, Erotic Yellow, 1971-1973, oil on canvas, 72" x 72"

Joan Semmel, Erotic Yellow, 1971-1973, oil on canvas, 72″ x 72″

Joan Semmel, Untitled, 1971, oil on canvas, 70" x 80"

Joan Semmel, Untitled, 1971, oil on canvas, 70″ x 80″

Joan Semmel, Flip-Flop, 1971, oil on canvas

Joan Semmel, Flip-Flop, 1971, oil on canvas

Feminist artist Joan Semmel created the first of the Erotic Series in the early 1970s. Her highly sexualized images depict men and women as equals, transforming their bodies into sensual landscapes. This series often focused on a lounging nude seen from the model’s point of view, effectively drawing the viewer into the image, while later paintings would take a more voyeuristic point of view.

As a first-wave feminist, Semmel worked to free the female nude from a patriarchal history. She said of her work, “My intention has been to subvert the tradition of the passive female nude”. Semmel does this well, addressing cultural obsessions with women’s youth and beauty through imagery including mannequins and self portraiture. Her nudes are equals, and are clearly far more than objects of the male gaze.

Semmel’s work is incredibly inspiring for a number of reasons, including her skillful use of color and composition, as well as her unique depiction of the male nude.

You can see more of Semmel’s work here. Check back on Fridays for more images of men by women. And feel free to suggest works of art or artists in the comments!

Take a look at our previous Female Gaze Friday: Sculptors Village by photographer Chiara Goia.

My senior exhibition is quickly approaching and I’m working on finishing the pieces that will be included. These are exciting, if stressful, times!

Small panel paintings, works in progress for the senior show.

Small panel paintings for the senior show. There will be around fifteen panels total.

Our exhibition is titled e•gress: Exit the Basement, to symbolize the ten fine art undergraduate seniors graduating from RIT (and our studio basements!) and moving on to new challenges. The show runs from April 9, 2014 – April 19, 2014 with an opening reception on April 12 from 6-9 pm. It is held at RIT’s Gallery r at 100 College Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607. Check out our event page here!

Student artists include: Melissa Huang, Laura Lee Jones, Hannah Kallberg, Stacy Nicole Lamphron, Ashley Ludwig, Marisa Nowodworski, Pamela S. O’Connor, Chiyo Sato, Amber Tracy, and Ashley Watson

I’ll post more images as I have them as well as photos of the installation and opening. Also, keep an eye out for an upcoming post on art museums as gendered spaces!

If you’re looking for an interesting read check out this post on Bible Brisket about the history and depiction of Adam’s first wife, Lilith.

The author quotes one of my posts from a couple of years ago on the sexualization of Eve and the feminizing of the serpent in Christian art. If you liked this article, Bible Brisket’s write-up on Lilith would definitely be of interest.

Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Fall, detail of the ceiling of Sistine Chapel, 1508-1512.

Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Fall, detail of the ceiling of Sistine Chapel, 1508-1512.

Here are some new bird paintings! You’ll notice these are a little more detailed than some of the older ones with a decorative, leafy background. I’m happy with the way this series is developing.

Melissa Huang, Cardinal, 2014, oil on board, gold leaf, 6" x 6"

Melissa Huang, Cardinal, 2014, oil on board, gold leaf, 6″ x 6″

Melissa Huang, Cardinal, 2014, oil on board, gold leaf, 6" x 6"

Melissa Huang, Cardinal, 2014, oil on board, gold leaf, 6″ x 6″

Melissa Huang, Parrot in the Jungle, 2014, oil on board, gold leaf, 6" x 6"

Melissa Huang, Parrot in a Tree, 2014, oil on board, gold leaf, 6″ x 6″

Melissa Huang, Parrot in the Jungle, 2014, oil on board, gold leaf, 6" x 6"

Melissa Huang, Parrot in a Tree, 2014, oil on board, gold leaf, 6″ x 6″

I created “Parrot in a Tree” as a donation to a silent auction for RESTORE (formerly Rape Crisis Service) and the V-Day International Spotlight campaign. RESTORE provides crisis intervention and support services to women, children, and men who are survivors of sexual assault and their significant others.

“Cardinal” is a commission for a person who saw my bird paintings in RIT’s Shop One² (a fine art and craft gallery representing RIT affiliated artists as well as my favorite place to buy birthday presents on campus). I have eight bird paintings on display at Shop One² at the moment. I’ll post pictures of the set up soon! It’s exciting to have work for sale in a physical location.

I have one more bird painting in the works (another commissioned piece!). As a reminder, if you’d like your own feathery friend you can commission a unique work of art through my Etsy store.

 

Representations of the male figure in art are far less common than works depicting women. A long history of straight men dominating the art world has led to many images of winsome women, but fewer of beautiful men (I’ve written on this subject before; if you’d like to read more about the lack of male figures in art check it out here).

Every Female Gaze Friday I will post a woman-created work of art depicting a man—one small act to reverse the male gaze! Not all images will be provocative, many will be nonsexual or even disturbing. Hopefully this will be a way of learning more about women artists (as well as looking at dudes)!

This week we’ll look at the series, Sculptors Village by photographer Chiara Goia:

Chiara Goia, Sculptors Village, photograph

Chiara Goia, Sculptors Village, photograph

Chiara Goia, Sculptors Village, photograph

Chiara Goia, Sculptors Village, photograph

Chiara Goia, Sculptors Village, photograph

Chiara Goia, Sculptors Village, photograph

Chiara Goia, Sculptors Village, photograph

Chiara Goia, Sculptors Village, photograph

In Sculptors Village, photographer Chiara Goia depicts Dongcheng workers creating reproductions of world famous sculptures. Dongcheng is a small Chinese village in which many inhabitants are employed in this business of creating “fakes”.

Goia’s photography juxtaposes the workers with the marble sculptures; living people frequently blend into the scene due to the white dust covering their clothing. Her work explores the question of what exactly makes someone an artist. These near perfect replicas are cut and carved to perfection, yet the workers physically creating the sculptures are not considered artists in their own right.

Interestingly enough, sculptors have long had their workshops create marble copies of original works conceptualized by the head artist in clay. It was a common practice in the 1800s, for example, with artists like Harriet Hosmer and Hiram Powers employing assistants to do the actual stone carving.

The men in this series are statuesque and presented as Davids in their own right.

You can see more of Goia’s work here. Check back on Fridays for more images of men by women. And feel free to suggest works of art or artists in the comments!

Take a look at our previous Female Gaze Friday: the Familiar Men series by Laurie Toby Edison.

I’m happy to finally post my New Forms project from last semester! This piece is a portrait of my younger brother, based on a painting I completed in the fall of 2013. Using the original photograph as a starting point, I hand drew subtle shifts for the color, line, and value of each frame. Repeat, repeat, repeat for three hundred and sixty-one frames.

Music by Drew Tetz.

This project was incredibly interesting. I’d experimented with animation during my Freshman year (hand drawn charcoal frames about a factory robot on strike), and again during my study abroad in Florence (a pomegranate that decays and re-forms in a perpetual loop), but never something of this scale.

Melissa Huang, Philip (Video), 2013

Melissa Huang, Philip (Video), 2013

Melissa Huang, Philip (Video), 2013

Melissa Huang, Philip (Video), 2013

 

Melissa Huang, Philip (Video), 2013

 

Having to plan out at what point things would change, how long the shifts would take, and other time-related aspects of this project was challenging (in an exciting way!) I’m used to working with still images, so the animation process was outside of my comfort zone. Animating one of my paintings made me look at my work in a different light and reconsider parts of the painting itself. I’m still not sure if Philip (the painting) is finished. Hopefully I’ll be able to revisit it with some of the edits I’m considering.

Even considering the planning I put into the piece, it evolved naturally. At first the animation was supposed to be projected onto the original painting, but eventually the animation outgrew this idea (the movement was overwhelmed by the original piece and the subtle shifts were lost in comparison to the most drastic changes. The gold leaf did look beautiful under the light, though). Originally, the animation wasn’t meant to include growing tattoos or changing light patterns. Instead it was meant to be incredible subtle shifts in color, brushstroke, and slight changes in value. But the drama of the piece overtook the original intent, and I began experimenting with tattoos expanding and moving as well as the figure being overtaken by color and light.

Any thoughts? Feel free to share critiques in the comments!

Representations of the male figure in art are far less common than works depicting women. A long history of straight men dominating the art world has led to many images of winsome women, but fewer of beautiful men (I’ve written on this subject before; if you’d like to read more about the lack of male figures in art check it out here).

Every Female Gaze Friday I will post a woman-created work of art depicting a man—one small act to reverse the male gaze! Not all images will be provocative, many will be nonsexual or even disturbing. Hopefully this will be a way of learning more about women artists (as well as looking at dudes)!

This week we’ll look at the series, Familiar Men by artist Laurie Toby Edison:

Laurie Toby Edison, Familiar Men

Laurie Toby Edison, Familiar Men

Laurie Toby Edison, Familiar Men

Laurie Toby Edison, Familiar Men

Laurie Toby Edison, Familiar Men

Laurie Toby Edison, Familiar Men

Laurie Toby Edison is well known for her black and white portrait photography dealing with social justice themes. Her most notable projects include Women En Large, a series in which Edison collaborated with Fat Acceptance and Health at Every Size activists to create her “statement on the female nude” and Women of Japan, clothed portraits of Japanese women with model input, including written contributions by the models.

This series, Familiar Men, is Edison’s “statement on the male nude”. These works are the result of five years spent photographing and speaking with men, a process which has structured much of Edison’s views on masculinity and the male form. The people in her images appear comfortable and relaxed in her presence and her work takes in not only the model, but the model’s environment. Edison has said, “Bodies are sensual, and that’s part of my work, but I am engaged with the whole person in his or her space”.

Edison’s work is unique in the tender way that nude men and women of various size and age are shown. The famous lesbian, feminist artist Tee Corinne said that Edison’s photography “is unique in focusing on the nude without eroticizing it”. These portraits are sensual, but more gentle in their portrayal of the human form than many images of the nude.

You can see more of Edison’s work here. Check back on Fridays for more images of men by women. And feel free to suggest works of art or artists in the comments!

Take a look at our previous Female Gaze Friday: Portrait photography of Arab men by artist Tamara Abdul.