On Women* in Horror Art- A Commentary on Visibility and Self-Acceptance
*When I use the word women it's as an inclusive term for everyone who identifies as a woman.
After last month's busy blog I thought I'd do a shorter post and focus on an important topic: being true to yourself and what you love. This got triggered by an event from last month, although it's been one I've battled with for quite some time.
I originally made this watercolor painting for a group in America, which is active in the resistance movement. (Find them here) It's a step outside my normal horror and gothic art, because I thought it would appeal to a larger audience.
Unfortunately it did not get accepted because they were going in a more illustrative, minimalist style which is ok, but it's just not me.
I love this piece for what it represents and the color work is bloody awesome. I don't care if it sounds snooty I genuinely love this piece and am proud of it.
(here come the butts)
It made me realise, that I keep trying to fit into a certain section of the art world which will probably never accept my work, so why try to be a part of something that doesn't like or appreciate a part of me that is so intrinsic to my internal makeup as a human being, as an artist? Why have I felt the need to change who I am to fit into a mold that is not meant for me? It's not possible to please everyone and why should I have to?
All these questions started roiling around my brain, I really took a hard look at our society and thought wow, I feel a leash because the world I live in has made it only acceptable to be an artist if you are a) selling all the time b) have a marketable product. Which is an outdated stereotype still seen in t.v. series like "Grace & Frankie"- where Frankie constantly goes on about being validated as an artist only when she finally sells her work.
You are an artist if you choose to be. It is not verified by you selling work or making art that is not fundamentally you just to please others. You are what you love and I love horror art.
I make macabre, gothic, horror-rific, grotesque, vivid, tactile art, it's what I love. So why do I have to explain myself to people when they ask "Why do you paint such macabre subjects?" My first reaction is normally "Have you read the news lately?"
One other observation I've been more and more aware of as I get older and more awake is, if I were a man there would be little to no discussion about what I paint.
There could be general comments on the creepiness but I have seen paintings in the same ilk as mine which were created by male individuals get positive feedback, appreciation and paid an upwards of 6,000 euros for a small oil painting. I paint something unique/creepy and I mostly get the opposite reaction like "Eww, how can a woman paint that? It's so not lady-like." Whatever the hell that means.
There's this age-old stereotype that men can handle scary things better than people who identify as women, which is laughable to me. What women experience on a daily basis from the world at large is amazing, we handle so much injustice. Especially now that it's come to light how far the gender pay gap is, our healthcare is on the line, people fighting about controlling our bodies and yet we still wake up every day and push forward through the mire.
I call that strength.
So yeah, I think I can handle zombies, ghosts, monsters or insect beasties, because the reality I live in is often scarier than any fictional creature. You have someone chase you in an underground train station at 2am, then realise it's not a person, but the loud speaker who is yelling sexist, creepy remarks at you and you can't escape, because you need to use the underground to get home, then talk to me about how women don't know what the hell we're talking about, when we make horror art.
In fact, most horror motifs are often social commentary on how messed up our global community is. It is often meant to open your eyes (sometimes in a not too subtle way) about how you as a person can be more awake, be better, and just maybe have your ground structure rocked so thoroughly you go "Wow, if I work on myself and treat people better, I can change the world."
In regards to the art world, it is trying to be more representational of people who identify as women, but there is still a long way to go until they are more inclusive and also don't just use the women's right's movement as a way to market/sell art.
Don't get me wrong I do well for an emerging artist because I work my butt off but I would like to be able to be afforded the opportunity to do equally as well as my male counterparts.
Things are changing, so it makes me happy to hear and see more women artists being active. I still don't see so much macabre women artists though, which is something I want to change.
Over the course of this year (and maybe the next year too) I will, along with my regular art posts, create blogs focusing on women active in the macabre arts. Whether they be traditional artists, film makers, gallery owners, museum curators, comics creators, writers, activists, heavy metal musicians, you find me a creative field that has macabre women and I will write about them!
Until then stay strong and push forward.
What kind of art do you enjoy/geek out about? Would you enjoy more educational posts about different types of women in the arts? Please let me know, I would be happy to hear from you.
One last thing before I sign off, if you are a fellow macabre arts lover please get in touch. I'm working on building a community here in Berlin/Online and would love to create opportunities for collaborative blogs and arts projects.