To express out loud that art has a gender would be a politically incorrect statement in our society. In a time when women still strive for equality and many like to pretend that there are no gender differences I happen to believe that art constitutes two categories: that created from a female and that created from a male perspectives.
While I was in college I remember one day when a class assignment was to paint a still life arranged in front of a group of students. We were to choose our own spot in front of a big podium containing a vast number of different objects. An hour later I walked around the classroom to see which part of the still life was chosen by each student. To my greatest surprise all female students choose objects that had either beautiful colors or organic shapes. All the males choose compositions regardless of the color or shape of the objects. It made me realize that being a female artist reflects on paintings they create. Unlike males females seek harmony in their paintings and they also add somewhat decorative elements into their work, no matter what the subject matter is. To further prove my theory I have studied a number of female painters and came to a conclusion that women prefer self-portraits, nature and organic shapes in their work. Being a strong supporter of feminist ideas I tried to adjust my own work to disapprove my own findings. And yet I constantly caught myself wanting to depict subjects that directly influenced my life and were true to my (female) nature.
After a while I became aware that it is impossible to deny the obvious, to deny the truth of our being. The truth of life is that men and women have different outlooks on life and although they do cross into each other, women’s world is the world of feelings and emotions that are not as carefully hidden as men’s are. Women are taught to feel and not to be afraid to show their vulnerability. Women constantly seek answers and explanations for the way they are and the way things are around them. Women find answers by discussing their feelings and emotions. Thus, female artists often use canvas as a discussion board, created for the purpose of explaining things to themselves as well as for the purpose of challenging their audience into feeling and thinking what the female artists themselves feel and think.
A friend of mine, an artist from Ukraine used to tell me that an artist can achieve greatness only if he/she surpasses personal experiences and detaches himself from a subject matter that he depicts, thus becoming an objective viewer who can portray true soul of an object without bringing his own thoughts and feelings into a painting. Through the years of painting I discovered that this statement is simply not true and that the essence of art is not the ability to photographically and meticulously depict the reality, but rather the ability of an artist to depict an object filtering it through his/her own soul.
Our lives, our past loves, our gender, our age, our childhood are all components that make each artist unique. Our creativity is directly related to who we are as people. My own work is a reflection of my thoughts, emotions and life cycles that I go through. In my search to get to know myself I have painted a number of self-portraits. Each one of them is an element of my personality, a glimpse into my soul. In order to define myself as an artist and as a woman I often seek new avenues to express my creativity. Sometimes I paint over someone else’s paintings. I often pick a painting that I either love or hate and try to mold it into a painting that combines my own feelings with the ‘found object’ quality of the surface underneath it. Each one of my self-portraits gives me strength to face my own weakness and vulnerabilities and makes me become a stronger, better person.
Having been a feminist for most of my adult life my work makes me realize that I should not be afraid of being feminine, which is something that I was terrified of as a younger person. My work gave me an understanding that equality is not something to be fought for, but rather is something that should be celebrated and understood by both genders. Through the series of paintings I created (“The toothless bride” series), I tried to explain to myself and to my audience feelings that women often experience in their lives in regards to marriage. I portrayed my own hesitance to marry, because of fear of loosing my identity that to my satisfaction gave me an insight that both female and male viewers who saw the series were able to relate to my own fears of sharing a life with another being.
In recent years I became more aware of my gender and I am trying to make it a part of my art work instead of pushing it away. After all, my art work is a significant part of my existence and I cannot be an impartial viewer of my own life.