Monday, March 7, 2011

Art Blog: Girls Can’t (WHAT?) IWD

International Women’s Day



I have written about this before. I know this to be true because as I type, I am feeling that “Déjà vu” all over again feeling. I don’t care. If I am writing it again, it is because it needs to be said again. Until things change, I will write it over and over and over again.

I remember it so well. I was a freshman in college. I took a class called “Women in Literature”. I was so, so young. As I think back now, I realize I really didn’t have a clue about life or the world. All I knew was I needed college credit and this sounded like a cool class. As my naïve self sat in a desk, I looked around the room. There were all kinds of women sitting around me. There were those who dressed in long dresses and sandals. The girl over there had a wool plaid shirt above her worn out jeans and construction boots. There was the woman with the dreads that I admired. There were all kinds of women. The instructor started talking and there were rants and outrage. It was a loud cacophony. I just sat there wondering why everyone seemed so upset. Why aren’t we talking about literature? I really didn’t understand. I really didn’t.

I was raised by a single, female parent who happened to be a workaholic. She raised three girls and never mentioned we couldn’t be anything we wanted to be. So as I sat in that college classroom, I really didn’t understand the reason for the outrage and indignity. It wasn’t until I got older and more life experienced that I had my “Ah-HAH” moment.

I get it now. As we get older we start to do a life inventory. NOW, I remember when I couldn’t be a safety patrol girl in elementary school because I wasn’t a boy. Mr. Thames, my 8th grade Science teacher didn’t really explain details when he told me I couldn’t be in the “Rocket Club”. Also, I finally understand why my high school counselor was so disturbed and resistant when I demanded to be in Physics and Electronics even though I would be the only girl. I didn’t get the female connection. I just thought I was different.

I am really glad I was clueless in my first year of college. I am glad because it means that no experience up until that time stopped me from doing what I wanted to do. None of those “girls can’t” experiences have stopped me from doing whatever. NEVER. Of course, I now see how the inequity of women plays a role in our every, everyday lives. There is always a way to circumvent the barricades. It might not be right. It might not be fair. However, it is the way of the world until woman and girls get equality. This is why I am typing these words right now.

I have been so lucky in my life. I have always admired prominent older women in the arts. I recently put up this photo on Facebook. It is a true reflection of my top 8 artistic mentors. Seven of them are women. I am proud of these women because they cut a path on which I walk now. I am hoping I am doing the same for the young, female artists reading this now.
Also, I am hoping these young artists won’t have to write a blog post like this in years to come. Let this stop!



Here are the first eight of my mentor list. I love this list. These have been my mentors for decades. I am lucky to have a group of so many strong women who worked their entire lives as productive, powerful artists. Click pic to see a larger version of this pic. Can you name them?

6 comments:

sara star said...

I love this post. I am no good at picking out who the artists are, though I think I see Georgia O'Keefe in tehre

Sheree Rensel said...

Sara,
THANK YOU for reading this post! Don't worry about which artist is which. I will tell that story later. The most important thing is you are on board with me. I am glad! :-)

namastenancy said...

I love this post as well. I wish I had been clueless about the obstacles that women faced but I came up against them at a very early age and still have the deep scars. I'm really glad to be older and out of the gender wars but I doubt if I will ever be blase about women's issues, lack of opportunities, violence - the whole kit and kabootle. I feel sorry for so many young women today. We were ignorant because feminism wasn't even a word in the vocabulary but they are treated like shit, told to dress like hookers and still reject feminism - well, not all of them but a lot of them. We have to continually reinvent the wheel and keep "our" past alive for if we don't, who will?

Sheree Rensel said...

Nancy,
I HEAR you!!! It is so ironic because I think in some ways we have taken ten steps forward and fifteen steps backward. Some of the kids I teach are so messed up when it comes to understanding the world. Stereotypes are alive and well in our society right now. I know. I teach young students who have ideas that would make the hair on your arms stand up.
This is more than sad.
:-(
Sheree

Eva said...

I can't name all of those women unfortunately! ....But I see you have my best friend GEORGIA is there... Louise Nevelson too, yes?
What I learn more and more is how much women artists influenced art history and were so underecognized. I was clueless about this when I was younger. I even remember a man telling (in the 80s) me that Sophie Taueber Arp was as fabulous as Jean Arp and I was like "No, no, no," being all in love with Jean Arp. And of course I was WRONG! Same with Anni Albers....
At least that was not the case with literature. I always liked the women best - Lady Murasaki, Jane Austen, George Elliot, Colette. At least we gave it up to the writers (even if they did have to take male names!).

Sheree Rensel said...

EVA!!!
I haven't "seen" you in ages! Of course, I haven't been blogging as regularly as I had been. Too busy. I know about being clueless when I was younger. In fact, the older I get the more I understand. Your Arp references remind me of when I discovered Sonia Delaunay. I never heard of HER and the only reason I read her bio years ago was because of knowing of "Delaunay". Never thought of him again after reading about her. LOL
Hope things are well with you!!
:-)