Growing up, I always loved to draw. I loved portraits, and realistic still art, but above all I loved street art. No one ever supported me when I mentioned that I wanted to create it, mainly because they did not view it as a form of art. I however, was enamored by it and began notice that now, more than ever, street art was becoming more and more popular. I also noticed that almost all street artist were men and I began to lose interest in the field because I didn’t think women could succeed within it. Until I came to find out about SWOON, and I became inspired to begin working on pieces again.
“One of my philosophies of art is that the closer you make things to who you truly are in the time and place that you truly occupy, the more universal they will become. That means to me really embracing what it means to be a woman in this moment, right now, making art. I do think that being able to sit more comfortably with my gender and express that in my work has become more important.”
– Caledonia Dance Curry A.K.A. Swoon
WOMEN IN ART
When Googling famous artists, 9 out of the first ten listed are hombres.
However, women have always been artist, and good artists at that! In fact:
“According to a tradition from a story by Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder), the Roman writer of the first century A.D. (23-79), a potter’s daughter from Corinth, named Dibutades made the very first drawing. This girl had a beloved friend who was about to travel away from his city. Prior to his departure, the girl marked the contour of the boy’s head on a wall, following the shadow produced by a lamp’s light. She later asked her father to do a ceramic piece with this shape.” – Francisco Martinez Mindeguia, Dibutades and the Origin of Drawing, According to Pliny the Elder, 2012
Can you believe it? A WOMAN. Una mujer como tu, y como yo, was possibly the first artist EVER! So why is then that women are so underrepresented in Google’s list of famous artist, and in art history in general?
There are several answers to that question. But let’s not get into that… instead let’s celebrate two women who are paving and have paved the way:
Courtesy of www.FridaKahlo.org
Artist Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, in Coyocoán, Mexico City, Mexico. She was brutally injured in a trolley crash on September 17, 1925. In the collision a handrail drove into Frida’s hip and came out the other side. This terrible incident, left Frida unable to bear children, and caused her lifelong suffering that was later very influential on her work. She first started painting after being released from the Red Cross Hospital and made to stay in bed rest for recovery. In the years following her accident Frida joined the Mexican Communist Party and attended many of their gatherings, where she met the famous painter Diego Rivera. A fan of Diego’s works, Frida asked him to critique her paintings to see if she had what it took to pursue a career as an artist. Diego was not only impressed by Frida’s art but by Frida herself, and on August 21, 1929 Frida and Diego married. Shortly after their marriage Frida became pregnant, but had an abortion when the pregnancy became dangerous to her health. After losing her child, Frida focused on painting and changed her style to the “folkloric style” that she is now known for. For several years Frida followed Diego during his travels for work, but along the way both artist maintained several affairs, and Frida had several miscarriages, which led to a tumultuous marriage. For many years the couple put up with the constant infidelity, however, in 1934, Frida discovered that Diego was having an affair with her younger sister and divorces him in 1939. Despite her separation from Diego, Frida continues to paint and exhibits her works in both Mexico and Paris. However, in the last years of her life Frida battle many infirmities, and in 1954 Frida died of pulmonary embolism.
Caledonia Dance Curry was born in New London, Connecticut. At the age of ten, she began painting and at the age of 19 she moved to New York where she attended the Pratt Institute. While in school, she began her career as a street artist. During that time, she did not tag her work and left her gender unknown to the public, for she knew that street art was dominated by men and being associated as a woman, and even more as a feminist could have a negative impact on how others viewed her work. However, swoon always knew that despite any category she belonged to, her work could stand on its own. Later, as she became more comfortable with herself and the strength of her work she began revealing herself and transitioning from illegal street art to to only commissioned pieces and now has several permanent installations and her work has been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Tate Modern and many others.
THEY PAVED THE ROAD, NOW WE CHOOSE WHERE WE GO!
It was not easy for either of these women. Frida sought fame during a time when women were not even considered equal to men, and Swoon sought recognition in an artistic field where women were nowhere to be seen. However, today Frida is recognized as one of the greatest artist to have ever lived between men and women alike, and Swoon is recognized as one of the best street artist around alongside Banksy, Risk, OBEY and others. If they can do it so can you!