Home is where the art is

A friend of mine who is an artist and is currently taking her master’s degree in the subject once had a quarrel with one of her professors. If my memory is right, she was questioning him about the fact that he was never encouraging towards her or towards one of her friends – also a girl.

Then, to her surprise and to mine ten times more, here’s what the men said: “women can never be true artists“. This my friends, was in Zürich, Switzerland.

I could never forget that sentence and the narrow-mindedness contained in it, but it has served a far more dignifying purpose: I now pay close attention to women artists.

Since I believe clichés possess a certain strength, I can’t help but say here that I do feel women produce a different type or art from that of men. Womanhood seems to come through in various elements in the art of women. One of the very striking aspects of their art production is their choice of materials. I find very often that women choose every-day-life materials in their works of art.

Icelandic artist Hildur Bjarnadóttir is one of the finest examples of this:

Using materials tightly connected to home and homely subjects, she raises questions about origins, family and rural identity.

Weaves, threads, looms and spinning machines are all part of the artist’s universe, which are also linked to most grandmothers I know. I think this is true for most cultures around the globe.

It is a true and beautiful use of women’s cultural heritage to create something for a world to which they didn’t really belong up to very recently.

Uniqueness is my word du jour.

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