Opinion: Barriers to Creative Freedom, Being, and Living As An Artist
There have been three main barriers [to flourishing freely as an artist]: time, information, and life. In regards to time, having to balance a corporate 9-5 while building my brand as an artist & creative entrepreneur is taxing. Living in a capitalist society creates an incredible challenge for imagining living a life where I can solely create. Instead, I adapt by creating balance in my life to make time for working to survive, and time for creating to thrive. I believe one of humanity’s biggest challenges is time. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing I had more time. The reality of time on this planet being finite creates an immense pressure of yearning to create your greatest work while you’re here. It is a pressure that demands incredible focus, but also adequate room to live. You need to live in order to have something to say in your work, which is another thing that needs to be slotted into this balancing act that we’ve become subjected to.
When it comes to information, the ideal is the old adage, “if you knew better, you’d do better.” One side of the current issue surrounding information is transparency. There is information that is gatekept and considered taboo that can be incredibly helpful, and simply life-changing for young creatives–such as salary, rates, fundraising, pitching, and other aspects relating to the business side of the art industry. Having transparent access to such fundamental and crucial information would give young creatives an extreme advantage in navigating their paths within this industry. On the other hand, we face information overload. The internet is a powerful tool, but because of it, we have direct access to a vast amount of resources (blogs, YouTube channels, podcasts, newsletters, ebooks, social media, nonprofits, the list goes on.) While most of these resources work to inform and amplify the voices of young creatives, it can be difficult in deciding what is true, where you belong, and what is necessary to you. It is simply overwhelming. Information is only useful when it is digestible. Over the years, I have joined many different communities, subscribed to many different newsletters, and followed many different pages–but I haven’t found many that made me feel like I truly belong. I didn’t feel like they spoke to me on a level I could understand, especially within the art world. The creative professional world has done a decent job in helping all types of creatives, but I think the art world has a long way to go in developing communities and providing information and resources that are easily digestible and not intimidating.
And then there is life. In all of these websites, YouTube channels, blogs, podcasts, social media pages, etc no one really talks about how to actually deal with this roller coaster of life while trying to create. There is clarity in movement, but it gets complicated when figuring out how to move. We see inspirational quotes about not giving up, but when life throws a curve ball how does one still continue their pursuit? If you’re a full time artist or creative, you need to create work to live– but you also need to live to create work. If you’re in a stage where life is knocking you down, how can you possibly create? And if you don’t create, how can you possibly survive? Life is truly a balancing act.
15 AAPI Women Artists You Should Know
We've curated a list of 15 AAPI Women Artists You Should Know:
#1 Actress, Lana Condor
#2 Visual Artist, Christine Sun Kim
#3 Poet & Writer, Jenny Zhang
#4 Designer, Rei Kawakubo
#5 Actor, Writer, Producer, Mindy Kaling
#6 Singer & Songwriter, Mitski
#7 Visual Artist & Animator, Uzumaki Cepeda
#8 Actress, Rapper, & Comedian, Awkwafina
#9 Designer & Sculptor, Maya Lin
#10 Singer, Rina Sawayama
#11 Visual Artist, Yayoi Kusama
#12 Musician, Michelle Zauner
#13 Actress, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan
#14 Artist, Sue Tsai
#15 Actress, Park Run Bin
Are We Really Doing Better by Women in the Arts?
On January 7, 2018, women made history in the arts community. The internet was ablaze with talk of Oprah Winfrey running for president after her Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech went viral. Many attendees at the Golden Globes wore black to support the #MeToo movement.
Reports in the media hailed the event as a triumph for women, but was this really the case? In that year, there were only four female nominees for the Golden Globes. According to women and Hollywood, the 325 nominees for the 2022 awards were almost entirely male (91.1%). There were 29 nominees, but only nine were women, and only three were women directors from traditionally underrepresented groups who took home awards.
It is our duty to work towards a more just and equitable industry. This is especially true in the arts and entertainment fields, where discrimination is still common due to deeply ingrained cultural and social norms. Let’s talk about the current situation of women in the arts and call attention to the gaps that still exist. We will continue to emphasize the role of women in the arts, and we'll talk about how you can get involved. We're hoping this helps you understand the gravity of why advocacy and allies for women artists is critical and moves you to action.
How Have These Disparities Persisted for So Long?
Since the early days within the arts, women have been working diligently in various capacities. Yet, they continue to face disparities in pay and recognition. Researchers at Williams College recently looked at the collections of the most important art museums in the United States. They found that only 13% of the artists in those collections were women. But according to information from the job site Zippia, about 55% of artists who work in the museum are women.
This is a problem that needs to be addressed. Art spaces should have collections representative of the women who are also working in those museums. We need to have more discussions about the role of women in the arts and how to best support them from the curators to the artists. This includes encouraging girls and women from a young age to pursue an artistic career. By raising awareness around these issues, we can progress toward a more equitable future for women in the arts!
What Are the Disparities in the Arts and Entertainment Industries for Women?
According to FORBES, Between 2008 and 2019, an estimated $196.6 billion was spent at art auctions, but only $4 billion went to women artists.
Men largely dominate the arts and entertainment industries. This is true not only for actors and directors but also for stage managers and production assistants. As a result, women face many disadvantages within these industries. These disadvantages can dramatically impact their careers - even when they reach the top levels. Lack of visibility is one of the main problems women face. This is because women are often underrepresented in the media, reviews, and ratings.
Gender bias and sexism are also big issues, as women often experience discrimination and inequality. However, there's still a long way to go before parity is achieved in the arts. We must continue working hard to achieve it, starting with awareness and understanding.
The Strides Being Made by Women in the Arts
The world of the arts is complex and diverse, and it's no wonder that women have had a hard time breaking through the glass ceiling. However, there's been some progress made in recent years. The Center for Women in Television and Film reports that women have made great strides in the entertainment industry, with more women working in behind-the-scenes roles and more female artists achieving mainstream success.
Women comprise most professional art museum staff; but despite recent gains, they remain underrepresented in leadership positions. Again, there is still a lot of work to be done. The importance of women in the arts cannot be overstated. They have been essential in shaping our society and culture for generations.
They continue to make valuable contributions to art, dance, music, literature, and we need them more than ever. It's time we started taking action and supporting women in the arts. Women need more opportunities to get exposure and gain recognition for their talent. We need to support their work intentionally so they can make even more progress in the future.
The Challenges That Remain for Women in the Arts
The arts is important for both individuals and society as a whole. Art can help us express ourselves in ways that are unique and can offer therapeutic benefits. However, many challenges remain for women artists.
- The National Museum Women's Association reports that from 2005 to 2015, the percentage of museums headed by women increased from 32% to 47.6%, though this increase was concentrated among the smaller institutions.
- According to Billboard. women are undervalued in the music industry and do far too much work. 57% of those polled work more than one job, 24% work 40-51%, and 28% work more than 50%. Approximately one-third of those polled earn less than $40,000 annually, and nearly half believe they should be further along in their careers.
- One of the hardest things for women to do in the design industry in 2022 is to find strong role models. According to the National Museum Women's Association, Women make up a majority of professional art museum staff; despite recent gains, they remain underrepresented in leadership positions.
To make real progress, we need to be more aware of the challenges that exist and take action to address them. We need to support women artists and help them reach their full potential. This will be challenging, but it's essential to see real change in the arts industry! Thankfully, people are working collectively to change these things.
The arts are a part of our history and culture and should be inclusive for everyone. Arts are a powerful medium for expression and can help break down barriers. Unfortunately, women have been largely left out of the arts scene -more specifically in equal pay and opportunities. That's why it's so important that men play a significant role in advocating for women in the arts. Here’s how men can help to support women artists.
- Realize that there is no one cause of inequality but many. Do your research and learn the space you wish to influence.
- Address toxic masculinity in creative and work spaces.
- Spread the word about and pay for the work of women artists.
- Cultivate the talent of skilled women artists by offering opportunities.
- Work alongside women in the arts. If we work together, we can give everyone a place to share their ideas and make sure that everyone can also enjoy great art.
The art world is full of women who have worked hard and succeeded at the highest levels. These women are leaders in their fields, reaching new heights every day. But we still have a long way to go before women are treated equally and fairly. Despite all the progress we've made as an industry (for better or worse), there's still more work to do regarding gender parity in Hollywood and beyond—and now more than ever, we need your help! We would love to hear from you!
If you’re a woman artist, let us know how we can support you by taking our survey. If you want to learn how to support women artists, join the conversation by subscribing to The State of Fem Art podcast.
Bisa Butler Creates Portrait Quilts That Shares the Black Experience
This Women’s History month, we commissioned artist Aniko Aliyeva to celebrate the work of incredible women in visual arts.
Today, we recognize artist Bisa Butler. Her intricate portrait quilts tell the stories of the Black experience in technicolor. Each fabric is carefully selected as she translates historical photos into brilliant works of art.
The fiber artist has shared it can take hundreds of hours to complete just ONE quilt.
In an interview with Print Magazine, Bisa shared, “Quilts are tombs of history. Printed fabrics give you a date and time. If I’m using oranges and blues and dayglow flowers made of polyester, you know that fabric is from the 70s because they’re not making fabric like that anymore.”
The New Jersey native holds her BFA from Howard University and a Master’s in Art and Education from Montclair State University.
This April, she will be honored by the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) alongside Faith Ringgold and Brian Donnelly (KAWS) for their 60th Anniversary Gala at Gotham Hall in New York.
The #SOFemART Gallery, Podcast, and Intention
On March 27, 2021, Love Life Media revealed “The State of Fem Art” (SOFA) virtual art gallery and 360 experience designed by Fatimah “Sattom” Al Asad and curated by event founder Timea Gaines to recognize visual artists being spotlighted at this year’s SheROCKS event. The experience was crafted to commission, collaborate, and spotlight women artists and boldly declare our commitment to helping women artists and creatives be seen.
“We heard so many stories about women artists and entrepreneurs who had succeeded after attending SheROCKS event. We learned of the partnerships and relationships they established through the event. We also received numerous requests to do more. So we decided to create a space to continue the conversation, but more importantly to disrupt the industry in a way that levels the playing field for women in male-dominated industries,” said Timea Gaines CEO & Founder, Love Life Media.
With the SOFA announcement, you can expect media and entertainment, events, workshops, resources, tools, grants, collaborations, and a podcast set to feature women artists and creators.
Today is the first official public viewing of the SOFA art gallery and the podcast cover, which was created to highlight women artists who were disruptors in their own right.
On the podcast cover, you will see Frida Kahlo, Yayoi Kusama, Faith Ringold, Aretha Franklin, Audrey Hepburn, Norma Merrick Sklarek, Zaha Hadid, Rei Kawakubo, Madeline Anderson, and Debbie Allen. The first episode will provide a closer look at why each artist was chosen for the cover and their inspiring stories.
To receive the latest news about #SoFemART and the podcast launch, make sure you’re following @SoFemArt on Instagram.