Reflecting on Women’s Representation in the Arts
by: Sigi Arnejo
I have just returned from vacation in Spain and Portugal and had a wonderful time. During which, I had a chance to see some beautiful landscapes, historical architecture, and world renowned museums. It was truly a life changing experience for me, one that I will never forget.
Though, as I marveled at the beauty of Spain and Portugal I was saddened by how women were rarely represented. Few in the arts and none in architecture. At the Prado, the Reina Sofia, and the Contemporary Museum in Spain, just a few women artists were exhibited. It was almost as if there were no women in art.
Why is that? Why are we not celebrated as our male counterparts, exhibited in the mainstream as the men, paid the same as the male artist? Are we less of artists, not as good? What is the reason we are not treated as equal?
The reason is irrelevant – it’s unfair and it is time to change the way society thinks about women artists, period.
I have to applaud actress and director Robin Wright for standing up and demanding equal pay for her work on House of Cards to her male counterpart, Kevin Spacey. She should get compensated for her work. After all, Wright not only acts as his “partner” but has been known to direct a few episodes. She is a talented, intelligent women that deserves to be treated as such.
More of us women in the arts need to stand up for ourselves, make noise about their accomplishments, share our experiences and talent.
As Asian American women artists, it is assumed that we do calligraphy, watercolor, and textile art. And we do! But society has pigeon-holed us into the unrealistic stereotypical role of being quiet and submissive artists tucked away from the world. We are contemporary artists in every medium and our work is vibrant, thought-provoking, and relevant. It speaks volumes of who we are and what we want for generations to come.
At Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) we are working hard to ensure Asian American women artists have the opportunity to work and be recognized as major players in the art world. Making sure that women are being seen, heard, and compensated equally for their work is part of our mission.
Through art, we are telling stories of social injustice, sharing our struggles with diversity, as well as revealing our passion for life, love, and family. We have to show our communities, our cities, and the world that we are a valuable asset to Art History.
As an AAWAA board member it is very important for me to keep our artists in the spotlight and to celebrate and support each member. As this year winds down, we are looking to the future for ways to make our artists’ careers flourish by holding professional development workshops, educational lectures, and peer-led art gatherings. Building a strong membership community will show government agencies that we are an important institution ensuring the visibility and well-being of Asian women in the arts, and that as a leading organization, we must be funded to further strengthen our cause.
I know all too well that calls for fundraising is uncomfortable for some, but we cannot survive without it. When you see AAWAA’s call for support, act in a deep and meaningful way! Update your membership, encourage your friends and family to become members, go to a fundraiser, or give what you can because our future depends on now. Either way, be a part of the change we are enacting in the world.