Women have always largely been excluded from the History of Art books, except when they are represented by the male gaze, as nudes. There have always been women artists, but they have been excluded because the notion of genius was and is a patriarchal concept. Societal constructs and biology have often shut women out from the grander forms of creativity, due to procreation, the division of labour, etc. Women were not always busy having babies, but were simply left out of the conversation regarding art. Often spouses of male of well known male artists got a look in; for example Sonia Delaunay, Lee Krasner, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe. They were given a certain amount of attention due to their connections, exceptional tenacity, pure brilliance and persistence, in spite of a degree of hostility.
Even as recently as the 80’s I was told by a male art tutor that ‘women are always painting ‘centralised vaginal imagery.’ As if that were a bad thing. Looking back I am still perplexed by what he meant. I wish I had questioned him more.
Nowadays, women are shouting louder to be heard, and the paradigm is shifting. We are reclaiming the womb as something deliberately to be represented within an image. We talk about birthing ideas and artistry. The rebirth of painting and the return of the Sacred Feminine, the recounting of His-tory are being reevaluated. This new empowerment is being carried by women to embolden their visions, both artistically and politically. The old paradigms of male supremacy in all fields are being questioned. We have only just begun. This empowers men too, especially creative and empathetic men. We are together birthing a new paradigm.