Why Women’s Day – Oscar or no Oscar?

Blossoms for courage and abundance on International Women’s Day.

View and purchase full resolution image here.

Today, March 8, 2010 is International Women’s Day. This year a lovely man told me that he appreciated women everyday not just on March 8th. I’m relieved this is the case. But International Women’s Day is about much more than appreciation. All the blossoms, appreciation and love in the world for women will not, by itself, effect the change necessary for women’s equality. The disparity between women and men is the motivation behind my by-donation services design for Terrill Welch – A woman behind Women. The disparity between women and men is part of my motivation for writing Mona’s Work.

Last night, for the first time, an Oscar was given to a woman film director, Kathryn Bigelow, in the 82 year history of the academy – for a war movie, which surprises people that it was directed by a woman. Need I say more? Yes?

In an interview on March 2, 2010 with Willa Paskin of Slate, Kathryn Bigelow says the following about creativity and being a woman….

“…I come from the art world, or that’s where I was creatively, aesthetically, and intellectually formed and informed.

Certainly at the time I was there, there was never a discussion of gender per se. Like, this is a woman’s sculpture or a man’s sculpture. There was never this kind of bifurcation of particular talent. It was just looked at as the piece of work. The work had to speak for itself. And that’s still how I look at any particular work.

I think of a person as a filmmaker, not a male or female filmmaker. Or I think of them as a painter, not a male or female painter. I don’t view the world like that. Yes, we’re informed by who we are, and perhaps we’re even defined by that, but yet, the work has to speak for itself.” Read the full interview here.

Do I disagree with Bigelow? No, I agree. This is the ideal we are striving for. The question is – are we there yet? Can women compete in creative fields beyond the styles and topics held in esteem by male colleagues? If they do, is their creativity then labeled as women’s art, or women’s crafts? These are thorny questions which have no easy quick answers – at least, no easy answers I have found in the twenty years I’ve been part of these discussions. Yet, today, International Women’s Day, I beg the questions for your consideration.

Sprout Question: Do you feel your gender influences your creativity?

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY to all women, and women artists! Congratulations to the men who appreciate their creativity.

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

18 thoughts on “Why Women’s Day – Oscar or no Oscar?

  1. Beautiful photograph Terrill!

    Well, I do think men and women have different ways about putting themselves ‘out there’ in the world. I do not feel as comfortable ‘pushing in’ to be seen and the like. I am certain there are plenty of males that do not feel comfortable either. Are they more groomed for this tho?

    I play fiddle at an Irish Session dominatated mostly by men. In order to get to start a tune, one has to first be invited at some point in time (which I have) but then ‘push in’ at a second’s notice with some tunes and play quite fast at that. Yes, I mind. This is not my natural way of playing. It is challenging, I learn a lot, it is worth it.

    As a painter I have finally gained enough self confidence to put myself ‘out there.’ Could I be better at it? yes. Should I charge higher prices that range into the 6 figures? No. I don’t quite feel like going there. Is there something wrong with me? quite possibly. But there is a lot right about me too.

    back to painting.

  2. I wish I could look at the art world in the way Ms. Bigelow does. When I was a teen, I didn’t separate art into genres like men’s or women’s or minorities. But then I entered the blue collar work world for decades and I found out exactly why women are under-represented in the art world. Now, I have a stereotype in my head about women in the art world; that their children are already grown, or they never had children. I know completely that this way of thinking is biased, and there are plenty of women continuing to further their art career while raising children. There must be! I know that when I went to Barnes & Nobles recently and picked up a top 100 contemporary artists book, I scanned it for women vs men first thing. I was pleasantly surprised to find many women artists I’d never heard of.

    To answer the question, “does my gender influence my creativity?” I’d say no, my creativity itself isn’t influenced, however, what IS influenced is the time I have available to express my creativity. I’ve been raising children for 12 years and only consigned 2 portraits for friends. When I was working on a piece, I was constantly interrupted by my children. Now I see that as they get older and need me less, I can have more studio time with less guilt.

    • Thank you Jessica for sharing your story and experiences. You are not alone.

      Finding time for creative work and careers is part of what International Women’s Day is about. I was asked to present at Provincial Conference last year on “Untapped ROI – Increase Women in Leadership” The thirteen myths and facts about women’s leadership share some of the facts behind Jessica’s experience (strategies to address these challenges are included as well). However, for independent artists, there is no company policies to change or implement. We must negotiate this terrain on the private home front alone… the raising of children being but one of the obstacles.

      I would love to hear from other creative women how they have succeeded in finding the time for their creativity.

  3. That was a great link you provided Terrill, thanks for that reminder of societal imbalances between the genders. One factor that contributes to my experience in the arts is the fact that I made a choice when I was very young; 19. I was accepted into an Arts college based on my portfolio, but I turned down the opportunity to study and foray into the world of professional artists. So my choice was to forever keep art in my life as a hobby. That choice has colored my world ever since! If I had established myself as a pro artist before I had children, perhaps I would have been able to keep art a central focus of my life while raising small children. By the way, my “one woman show” is at http://www.jadgallery.com.

    • thanks Jessica for sharing the link to your “one woman show.” Ah that distinction between being a professional artist and having a hobby has haunted me as well. One of my personal mentors, Emily Carr (Canadian Artist who did not get to focus full time on her painting until she was fifty years old) wrestled with this question her whole life. Her solution was to keep painting and keep writing and keep observing and being curious about her subject matter. I am ever so grateful that she did.

  4. Happy International Women’s Day indeed Terrill, and Ms. Bigelow’s breakthrough Oscar as Best Director for helming a film in a “man’s” genre is a perfect example to illustrate the progress made in bringing a woman’s artistry and contributions on the level of a male’s.

    Ironically, for me, the best direction this year was by another woman, the great New Zealandic artist Jane Campion, whose exquisitely beautiful film BRIGHT STAR, about the final romance of John Keats’s brief life, brings together all the film components to a create a film as emotionally stirring as it is aesthetically beautiful. And it’s lush settings would be particularly appreciated by the denizens of your own island paradise.

    But either way, it’s a year of prominent directorial turns by women, as yet another film, 35 SHOTS OF RUM (which also made my Top Five) was directed by Claire Denis, a brilliant French director.

    Excellent discussion there of the social delineation between men and women, and of course gender has nothing to do with creativity, as we’ve seen time and again. If anything, women are motivated by this seeming slight that has spotlighted men’s achievements in the various artistic fields.

    • Sam thank you so much for dropping in and leaving some thoughts about other women directors and contributing to the gender discussion. When I get a chance I will live link them to your blog site where I know you have reviews for both of these films. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to come by when I know this is a busy time over on Wonders in the Dark.

  5. Happy International Women’s Day Terrill
    I think it would be untrue if i said gender does not influence my creativity. I have thought about this question all day and have not formed an answer as to how my gender influences my creativity.
    How gender roles and sexual orientation relate to the arts is something that has been on my mind as of late and i only keep coming up with more questions.

    • Jerry coming up with more questions may be a good thing in this situation. I’ve been thinking about this question for years…. and I still keep coming up with more questions and few answers. My work about exploring a specific contextual environment to determine its influence is as close as I have come to an answer. This concept was developed to assist women leaders in their leadership. I have only begun to think about how such a concept could assist artist in the understanding of their art and the influence of their contextual environment on their work and showing their work.

      So if you (or others) come up with any further thoughts, ideas or even great questions… I would love to hear them.

  6. It’s interesting, but until you posed this question today, I don’t think I’ve thought about my artwork and creativity in terms of my gender.

    I know that one thing I am constantly challenged with is making/finding the time for all my creative outlets. First one responsibility then another seems to want to jump out in front for me to deal with. I believe that a lot of this is how I was raised both as a female and as a female raised in the southern US.

    In the south and in my generation, I was raised to always put others and pretty much everything before the time to be creative. If one was creative it was usually in the form of making something to benefit others.

    I haven’t lived in that part of the country for many years but I am still challenged with this on a daily basis. Sigh…apparently I am not through with this lesson yet. 🙂

    So yes…I do feel that my gender does have influence over my creativity…at least in this regards.

    I love your photo today BTW!! Very beautiful. 🙂

    Thanks for posing this question for us all to think about. 🙂

    • You are welcome Itaya. Thank you for your elegant sprout response. I am starting to see a pattern for creative women that is similar to other areas of women’s lives and work – creating and finding balance between their dreams, ambitions, visions, goals and their responsibilities for others. There is a male reader who sometimes offers a sprout on Creative Potager and who is also the primary caregiver of his children. I think I will go see if he has anything to add about his experience.

  7. Certainly finding creative time is limited when you have others who depend on you. I would add that these dependencies very during our lifetimes–ranging from heavy need to passing need.

    If one can push forward knowing that the need for mom or dad to provide everything is only a short time, the opportunity for work time will widen.

    On the original question, I think it is difficult to remove gender from creativity. As a consumer I want to know about the author or creator’s background and likes/dislikes as it helps me appreciate the work. I do like Bigelow’s idea though and gender should not be a driving force in me evaluating art, writing, or whatever.

    • Thanks Slamdunk for coming by and adding to this discussion. Most valuable. Your reminder about the change of dependencies changing during a lifetime is important.

      As some of you may know, I had my babies young at 19 and 22 years of age. Mostly I was a single parent. I was in relationships but they were my children and parenting was my responsibility. The three of us were “family.” During their childhood I went to university full-time while working half-time (or sometimes the other way around) for six years to get my undergraduate degree (with a B+ average thank you very much – even though I’m dyslexic and was told never to attempt university). My daughter while she was going to university once phoned and asked how I did it because she said she was having a hard enough time just doing her course work and looking after herself. Part of the answer was that I knew I only had to put out that kind of energy for a short time. Plus, the end result would mean that I could have a career where I could adequately support my children. And I was young. I would not want to try and do the same thing today with children the same age as many of my colleagues who waited until later in life to have their children. I do not regret one of the all night sessions finishing a paper, or crying at midnight because I didn’t think I knew enough to pass the exam the next morning, or figuring out how to manage sick kids work and assignments. I do not regret that my children learned to cook and clean and shop before their fifteenth birthdays. I do not regret that they take great pride in knowing how to “live poor if they have to.”

      Did I paint during those years? Only a little. I did charcoal sketches now and again. I tell you true… there wasn’t much time. I do not regret, not even for a moment the paintings that have slipped away during that time. I have today to paint, to write, to take photographs and to host Creative Potager. Now is the time for this.

  8. Thanks Slamdunk and Terrill! I think that’s how I get through tough times, too: I reinforce to myself that this too shall pass. It’s all temporary. Thanks for sharing, Terrill, I was very touched to learn your personal story.

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