Thursday, December 9, 2010

I've Gone Full Circle

This is the poster I designed in 1981 for my senior show in college, "The Woman's Eye" at Women in Art House, Orlando Florida. It's humorous to me now with it's "Age of Aquarius" feel, and yes, it was actually done with ink and rub-on type, and sent to a print shop for duplication...ah those were the days.

I was a graphic design major at the University of Central FL, and as such was required to only produce a portfolio. I was working on my BFA, also doing a lot of painting and photography so I thought it would be fun to do a show, but being a graphic design major I didn't have access to the gallery on campus.

I had been showing with the "Women in Art" group which was a non-profit that held shows at a house turned gallery space in downtown Orlando. My show was a two person show with sculptor Ellen Gilland, who did life-sized figurative works, she had the floors and I had the walls.

Being in the Women Painting Women Show at Robert Lange Studios in Charleston, SC. and being on Expedition with 11 other women artists brought to mind my senior show. The WPW show was the first gender specific show I've done in 29 years.
It seems I've gone full circle and it seems that women are still talking about some of the same issues we were dealing with in 1981. It surprised me then to hear about sexism and it still does. Back in 1981 most of the artists at Women in Art House were older than me and talked about not being able to get shows in town. They'd started this group as a way to garner attention for the women artists in Central FL.

A few of my male colleagues at school had dubbed the "Women in Art" group "Lesbians in Art", which I just took in stride, just as I did any other nonsense. I didn't have time for that! I was a newlywed with a portfolio to prepare, a show to hang and a career to launch!

Which I did and never looked back, my career and life was in full swing! But... sometimes, as with recent conversations with other artists about their struggle to find their place in the art world, I remember those women in Orlando and I more fully appreciate what they did for me and my generation.

I hope my daughter's generation of artists will experience more equality and that my generation has helped shine a little more light into a few dark corners. Eartha Kitt has good life advice that I think is pertinent to young women artists. 

The river is constantly turning and bending and you never know where it's going to go and where you'll wind up. Following the bend in the river and staying on your own path means that you are on the right track. Don't let anyone deter you from that.  ~Eartha Kitt 

And when you hit a boulder just flow around it.

1 comment:

  1. I was an art student from 1963 to 1968, also a graphic design major (minor in painting - my parents wanted me to be "practical.") The sexism was rampant but I didn't fully wake up to it for a long time - it was just the way things were. I have had difficulty making it beyond a certain level throughout my career but managed to get an MFA and a decent teaching position at a university - until budget cuts. I was always the one called to do graphic design and illustration assignments that others couldn't do (I could match almost any style) but never paid what it was worth. I have come to feel, in my older self now, that the important thing is to be painting what I want to paint, doing the best I can, and if it gets noticed that is great but it is not crucial to my happiness. I have advocated for younger, particularly female, artists and hope that things do improve, as they slowly seem to be, for the upcoming generations.



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