When it comes to equality and female representation in the art world, history (and even modern times) don’t show enough parity, sadly. While in past eras it was considered outright taboo or scandalous for women artists to even consider being part of the profession, in today’s climate the imbalance in numbers show there is a long way to go to see equal representation, or even close to it.
Only two works by women have ever broken into the top 100 auction sales for paintings, despite women being the subject matter for approximately half of the top 25, according to Artsy.net. Nearly 70 percent of artists represented by London’s top galleries are men, according to a new study. In another study looking at 1300 artists represented by the top 45 commercial galleries in New York City, the data found a 70/30 ratio for men and women.
“Within that 30%, more than 80% of the women artists were white. Overall, women artists of color represented just 5.6% of the entire dataset — a shocking statistic when you consider that overall, women of color make up approximately 17%of the U.S. workforce,” the article explains.
Campaigns and initiatives to promote and foster more gender inclusive workplaces are commonplace within the corporate sector, but the creative industries are still very slow to follow suit. Individual galleries and curators are taking it upon themselves to be the change they want to see by purposefully creating exhibits and opportunities for women artists.
Gallery Henoch, located in Chelsea’s Gallery District and co-founded by Nancy Hicks, is one such gallery using their space to change the status quo in the art world. They have a new exhibition launching on September 19, on display until October 22, called ‘The Female Eye’. The gallery has a history of recognizing and promoting female artists since its founding in the 1960’s. The current exhibition is the gallery’s first attempt to do a group show focused solely on the work of women. The intention is to illustrate the way each individual creates her work, even as all share the experience of being female.
‘The Female Eye’ is a group exhibition of 11 contemporary female realist painters investigating their present-day truths as women’s issues continue to forge to the forefront of modern concern.
Each artist presents a lens to a particular facet of everyday life concerning issues directly affecting women; lush trees and the seemingly wild landscapes of New Jersey are painted in painstakingly delicate detail by Anita Mazzucca – capturing the beauty of the common, trees that were grey at noontime in March turn golden in the evening in July. Alexandra Averbach, Janet Rickus and Olga Antonova apply geometry, design elements and incredible draftsmanship to intricate still-life of objects traditionally of the feminine concern: flowers, fruits, and kitchen utensils.
Alexandra Pacula and Sunghee Jang ruminate on scenes of urban complexity and the sense of self in a fast-paced society, while Patricia Taub’s harmonious menagerie inspired by rich traditions of 15th-17th century Dutch and Italian painters call for empathy between all living things through themes of animal welfare, conservation and interdependent relationships between animals and humans.
Reflection on identity is pursued by Sharon Sprung, whose sensual realist figures redefine the craft of oil painting. Manipulating layers upon layers of paint, Sprung draws forth the intricacies of beholding the gaze of another in the attempt to control the uncontrollable – the substance of oil paint and the expression of the human condition; In contrast, Renée Foulks explores the spatial and emotional relationship of observed bodies in scenes that are often surreal by examining rituals and belief systems and attempting to address ideas regarding birth, death and resurrection.
Elizabeth McGhee playfully balances humor and puns through the use of nostalgia in her paintings in order to address confrontational themes surrounding adult creativity and possibility that existed in their own childhood, while the layered paints and resins of Susan Goldsmith’s works glimmer as gemstones that have been lit from within, illuminating the simple beauty of natural environments.
Revisiting the resilience that women exhibit every day in the face of adversity, co-founder Nancy Hicks recounts her own story of breast cancer diagnosis at age 35 and her eventual recovery as an example of this uniquely female strength. As a survivor and long-time philanthropist, the exhibition will benefit Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Now 70 years old, Hicks considers “the exhibition as a way of gratefully giving back in return for what was once given to me. Breast cancer is everyone’s concern, but it’s especially a women’s concern. As women’s issues have come increasingly to the forefront, and women in the arts have begun to achieve greater visibility, ‘The Female Eye’ calls attention to this important moment in time.”
Despite the countless ways women around the world have had to fight for proper recognition, for humane treatment, and for appropriate medical care, Nancy seeks to highlight the resilience of women through the perspective of these female artists.
A timely exhibition and a meaningful event looking to chip away at the inequality in the art world, you can learn more about ‘The Female Eye’ and Gallery Henoch by clicking here.