Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Place for Us

Sara Star and Toni Partington at Voice Catcher Pre-release Party
I participated this year with an incredible non-profit that makes an anthology of NW Women writers, and this year for the first time, included art as well. What a phenomenal experience let me tell you. The way it worked was that the writing submissions were accepted and reviewed first, and then the art was accepted and reviewed.  The synchronicity of art and writing was amazing. Among the many incredible poems and short stories, was a story that matched near exactly my painting triptych Vagina Nightmares, it is named Vulvar Fantasies--could you get any more similar without it being planned?

Of course there were many other similarities, but for me, and I am sure many others this was a very striking similarity. This anthology has been coming out annually for five years now. And I often hear accusations from young men that it is ridiculous that women need their own anthology and that it is reverse sexist. I never agreed, but after participating with this incredible group of women, I am armed more strongly with the rightness of this publication. The choice of a women's anthology is not because these writers couldn't compete with male writers or vice versa, this annual creates a theme, an experience unique to a certain demographic and that is so very clear when the art is paired with the writing. It is something that women will read and identify with and a point of strength and a place of power building that everyone should have a right to create for their demographic.

Vagina Nightmares Triptych by Sara Star

I participate also with a group of artist who feel alienated, representational artists. Local abstract and pop artists and enthusiasts make the same accusations of us, why can't we participate in the main art scene (we do) and why do we need to exclude non-representational art? We use our theme based club to create power, to define a theme and to touch a specific experience in its own place. Our work often goes together better than it ever does against a pop art piece. There is a unity of experience and expression. The same goes for this uniquely female and NW anthology.

It seems the choice for both Voice Catcher and the Neo-Romantics breeds a bit of suspicion and a tiny bit of jealousy (maybe?).  There are jokes and attempts to intrude. This is perhaps natural, when a group in the majority feels it is still the minority and is wary of other minority groups taking some power away. This a scarcity model, and I believe there is abundance and a creative endeavor is the greatest sort of energy for creating new markets rather than taking from existing pools.  There are no less opportunities for men to publish their writing due to women's publications, and no less opportunities for abstract artists when representational artists open a new gallery.

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