I read something recently that has made me start thinking again about the disparity of women in museums and galleries. This is a very real issue when over 50% of artists are female but less than 2% of the works in museums are by women.
I was reading tips for artists and came across a recommendation that female artists sign their last names or first initial rather than reveal their gender. Allow the buyer or the gallery to get involved with the work before they knew the gender of the artist. It used to be a common practice by women writers and artists to sign their names to hide their genders, but this was a recently published book.
Is this still a practice? Is it a desirable one? On one hand, I believe gender shouldn’t influence our decisions and opinions, but on the other I know that gender sometimes informs our work as artists. Should we take that away? Should we all (men and women) stop proclaiming our gender on our work and enable the collector to look without knowing, or should we proudly stand up and say I AM WOMAN!
I do know that we won’t make it farther as women in the arts by hiding our genders. We may make more individual sales, but we can’t change the numbers if we don’t participate in them. It strikes me as duplicitous and wrong to hide our genders to make sales. We need to work together to change the game in the museums.