According to a story of Pliny the Elder, a Roman writer of the first century BC, the first drawing ever done was made by a woman named Dibutades, who traced the silhouette of her lover on a wall. Whether you choose to believe this or not, it is worth noting that although Western mythology tells us that a woman was the first artist, her female successors received little attention until the end of the twentieth century. From ancient times onwards, only a small sample of women have been included in the artistic canon. Even then, they were often described as unusually talented women who overcame the limitations of their gender to excel in what was believed to be a male field. Until now.
More and more all-female shows and platforms are opening all around the world every day, from Pussy Riot’s recent show to the Saatchi Gallery’s 2016 exhibition Champagne Life. “What a lot of people don’t understand when they see all-female platforms or all-POC platforms”, says Florence Given, who recently curated an all-girl show in London, Girl, Uninterrupted, “is that they need this space to have even a chance at being taken as seriously as the white straight men. We don’t want to out rule you, we just want to be treated the same way as you. For that to happen, we need more representation and more groundwork being done to include anyone who experiences some form of oppression”.
Great myths still persist around the balance of equal opportunities between women and men. Society likes to imagine that gender discrimination is disappearing but the reality is different. From the presidency of Donald Trump to ongoing discussion about the gender pay gap, it’s clear there’s still a long way to go. This is one of the reasons that Florence Given will be participating in Empowerment, a new show with Creative Debuts to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March.
Tampax Patterns by Diane Watson
For the show, the gallery has joined forces with Nasty Women New York, Amsterdam, Lisbon, North East, and London to celebrate the work of international feminist artists whilst raising money for End Violence Against Women. “As an artist”, Given says, “I feel it’s important that we continue building on the momentum we are creating with our work to bring about change in the world around us.”
Artists from as far and wide as the United States, Nigeria, New Zealand and Iran will be exhibiting at Empowerment. Works including photography, collage, digital art, painting, sculpture, craft and ceramics, will depict a struggle that is not limited to the inclusion of more women in exhibitions, but also the rights of women across all countries and all disciplines. It’s set to be a must-see this International Women’s Day weekend.
Featured image ‘Neima, ‘black female identity through a renaissance lens’’ by Jessica Ross.
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