Art and Feminism #1
Art is Art is Art.
In a time when there should be no need to say that exact sentence, there seems to be every need to say “Art is Art”. The polarity that is often unintentionally caused due to excepting without any form of criticism, can lead to misconceptions regarding art.
Good art is good art, no matter the narrative behind it. Art is visual storytelling. Subjective to the artist telling it. Art is not a manifesto. There are manifestoes relating to art and style and the zeitgeist of that given time. The art, if properly executed, will reflect the artist, the times, and their individual subjective story clearly.
From the “Beach” series, Acrylic on round stretched canvas 50/50cm @All Rights Reserved to Barbara Adler 2021
Quite a few years back, as a young art student, I had the privilege to visit my Aunties in Glasgow, Scotland. My grandaddy was a proud expatriate Scotsman. One of the younger Aunties (who was the age of my parents at that time), volunteered to show me around. As she was an advent lover of the arts, this was pleasurable to us both. After tiring of Glasgow, we boarded a train and headed for Edinburgh. My Auntie had short well-kept gray hair, blue eyes like the sea (that we both share), pale skin with rosy cheeks, and love for Laura Ashly's dresses. She was all decorum. Very different from the young back-packing me in overalls with slightly unkempt hair.
In Edenborough we went to castles, pubs, and parks. The highlight of that visit was the exhibition of Judy Chicago’s “Dinner Party”. It was a warm summer day. We climbed the steep stairs of the gallery to the main hall where the exhibit was held. At the entrance, on the wall facing the entrance to the exhibition is a giant quilt collaging/piecing together squares of artwork about the horrors and recognition of “AIDS”. AIDS was at its horrific height causing fear and desperation in the early ’80s. The quilt was beautiful. My aunt took it for its face artistic value.
We then went into the main hall where the installation was held. What hit me was the huge, well-lit triangular, colorful composition. It was a blast of color. Extremely aesthetic. 13 dinner plates and settings on each side of the large triangle table centered in this large room. Each setting of a famous woman. 39 women in total. All settings were made out of fine porcelain and were Chicago’s Homage and interpretation of these fantastic women. The dinner plates often had explicit sexual connotations. I was confused, fascinated, and amazed. The exhibit was a cross-section, a moment of truth for me as an artist. It took me time to process it. At first, I was totally into the feministic art movement that Chicago was part of. I loved that it was radical. I began searching for other feminist artists. To my dismay, they weren’t all that good. They made a very loud and clear stand on women’s rights and desired place in society, which under no doubt was important. I just couldn’t find myself totally identifying with their art. As for my Auntie, well, she was quite flustered, to say the least.
“Life”, Acrylic on Stretched Canvas, 70/50 cm, @All Rights Reserved to Barbara Adler 2021
It was already towards the end of summer break when I arrived back at the art academy. No one was around except for the secretary, the custodian, and the head of the department. She called me into her office, sat me down, and asked about my summer. I preceded to tell her about my visit to Scotland and of course my impressions from Judy Chicago’s “Dinner Party”. The head of the department was Siona Shimshi, a well-known Israeli sculptress and ceramicist. She was very elegant in appearance, very predominating, assertive, opinionated and straightforward. As I preceded to tell her my impressions, her stern face softened. She had a slightly dreamy look and a slight smile. She was unusually quiet as I spoke. I realize now that I was at a life-defining moment. She softly asked if it makes a difference the background of the artist if the artwork was good. She continued by saying that each individual has his or her own set of experiences that reflect upon their art and that is what makes their art special, what tells their specific visual story. By that logic, all artists, no matter their gender, race, rich or poor, opinions and general background, bring into their artwork their unique expression of their own personal story. Properly executed with proper aesthetic allusion, defines a work of art.
No manifesto. Just an artist telling a story. One can agree, identify, or not. Art is not judgmental though the story it tells will take a stand and make a statement.
“Lord of Time”, Acrylic on Canvas Board, 23/30cm, @All Rights Reserved to Barbara Adler 2021
Art reflects upon society through the people who do art or “read” into the art. Art is not a neon sign showing the way. ART IS ART.
Everybody needs art. There is Art for everyone’s state of mind, desires, and tastes.
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