I recently entered a competition promoted by an American based art supply company because I thought it was a fun challenge and I would be able to tag them. They have approximately 117k followers and that's not bad at all. The art supply company teamed up with a well known American male artist, who has around 130k followers, and the first place winner would get a course taught by him, (insert branded) paint brushes, and the second to fourth would also get some paintbrushes. Again, I was in it so I had an excuse to tag them, which seems silly, but I like a good excuse. In addition to that, it gave me the theme for my next paint lapse video.
The results were announced on Tuesday the 3rd of May 2021. I had seen some incredible entries and thought a couple of them had a really good shot at winning something. By then, I had totally discounted my entry as, yes, you guessed it if you read my previous blog entry and theme of my new YouTube webseries, Not Good Enough. I was really excited to see who the judges would pick and was waiting to see the entries and maybe even see some of the artwork that had impressed me, be on the winning roster. So imagine my disappointment when I saw the winning artwork and click on each and everyone to see what other work they had produced. Not only that, but to see that behind every handle was a male artist. There were several entries by women, incredibly talented women, and not one of them won. Although I can only guess the judging criteria for the first place, given that the prize was a course on "Observing the Human Head", second to fourth places came across more like an honorable mention. So I felt let down and disappointed by the promoters for not having the foresight to name two women as winners. And I don't mean as a token or anything like that and I mean no disrespect for the actual winners. Let me show you the winners and I will let you be the judge.
I see no reason why these two women couldn't have secured a place among those four.
Both Chantal Boso-Flores and Lourdes Maria have an incredible profile showing magnificent paintings both technically and visually. So why am I so peeved?
Some will say this is not important, it's just an art supply company hosting a competition. However, this company has 117k followers and the artist representing them and is the artistic face of the competition, has 130k followers. That's considered macro influencer reach when one has over 100k followers. That's a lot of people looking up at you and you should be setting a good example. In today's art world there is a lot of talk about championing women in the arts, but the people I see doing that are generally other women. I have been following Emma Watson's campaign He for She and there is a lot of truth in it, if men, who are in positions of power and influence aren't championing women, then who is?!? I see it as a domino effect and to use this competition as an example: Company X and Male Artist elected 4 men as winners. Men supporting men. Everyone is seeing this and next we have galleries where men support men all the way up to art museums. A vicious cycle where all women see are men of power electing to keep men in power. Including in the art world.
This reminded me of a competition mid-2020 held by a leading gallery in London where they wanted to showcase 25 artists and their take on lockdown and creation. According to them, they had over 1,000 entries from UK based artists. I would guess that they had many women enter the competition too, but unfortunately, that was not data I was privy to and at the time, I didn't think to ask. The committee was composed of eight people, of which two were guest artists. Of the eight, two were women, one of them was a guest artist. Of the 25 artists selected, 7 (28%) were women. Some might say, that's amazing, others will point out that's not good enough, it should have been closer to 50/50 split. For a gallery that claims it has inclusivity and diversity at the core of its programme, it needs to try harder. Of the 25 artists it represents, 7 (28%) are women. I guess the results of their competition was very much in line with their gallery practice.
I will leave you with the Guerrilla Girls, showing some elucidating statistics.