Last Thursday Woman Made Gallery participated in a panel discussion called “Investigating the Need for Women’s Art Galleries, Exhibitions, and Organizations” with the Women’s Caucus for Art. This was during the College Art Association’s (CAA) annual conference taking place here in Chicago. I was asked to write an answer to one of the panel questions:
Q. Following the recent conversations in museums and galleries among curators and critics about the inclusion of women, what is the current role of woman-only opportunities?
A. Today I often wonder about the place of Feminism in today’s society and culture, and how the definition has changed in the past forty years. Is the notion of feminism an isolated entity that mutates with the changing times, or is it a specific canon synonymous with art in the 1960’s and 70’s; today, is it feminism, or are we informed of feminism?
Recently Woman Made Gallery received an email from a man claiming WMG was sexist and elitist after he realized he was unable to enter a show because he was a man. For eighteen years WMG has been dedicated to promoting the equal placement of women’s art in the world, however this no-boys-allowed attitude inevitably calls upon questions regarding feminism’s most basic and central goal—equality. Theoretically, this seems problematic, and that men should be allowed to have a valid point on the feminine experience, however, statistics still illustrate a practical need for woman-only opportunities. Male artists still exhibit in contemporary spaces at much higher rates than women, despite the fact that there are more numbers of working women artists.
Theoretically, the notion of feminism is up for debate and in a relative and constant state of flux, but until the concrete numbers say otherwise—there is still a need for woman-only opportunities. Opportunities that provide women with a physical space to exhibit their work and take part in an ongoing dialogue that challenges and questions the equal placement of women’s art in the world.
*Now I leave it to you…What is the role of feminism and need for women-only spaces/exhibitions/opportunities?
-Kristen Carter, Gallery Assistant