How many female artists can you name? That was one of the questions in a form my professor (a woman) in college made us fill out my first day in college. To my greatest embarrassment I was unable to name even one. Back then I had no idea who Frida Kahlo or Georgia O'Keefe were and I didn't know that there were women in the Impressionist movement... Nowadays, I'm more aware of women in the arts. However, it's a sad truth that most people are still not. A few days ago I was surfing the net and found some stats that somewhat explain why most people are still in the darkness of the cultural role of women in our society. So, here are the stats I'd like you to be aware of:
Twenty years into the women's art movement, women artists are still struggling for visibility. It is well documented that they lack significant support in the art world. According to the 1990 U.S. study, Gender Discrimination in the Art field:
· 50.7% of all visual artists are female
· Women hold 53.1% of the degrees in art
· 80% of art faculty are males
· Male artists make 68.6% of the total art income
· Male artists receive 73% of grants/fellowships
According to the Guerrilla Girls:
· Art museums average 15% women in curated exhibits, minority women .003%
· 4% of museum acquisitions are of work by women artists
Since antiquity, women artists have been creating alongside their male counterparts. Many of these women were highly successful during their lifetimes, yet have been omitted from art historical documentation. For instance, before 1986, all editions of H.W. Janson's History of Art, (the standard text used in introductory college art history classes), included 3,000 male and no female artists. In the latest version, published in 1991, only 19 women are represented.
P.S. Please note that in no way I'm blaming males for females being underrepresented in the field of visual arts. I believe that there's no more need for affirmative action (and such like programs) in the 21st century. We can reach our goals without somebody preferring us over somebody else (possibly more talented) because of our gender. We can compete with men on their level and we don't need hand-outs.