Did you know that 51% of visual artists are women?  Or that 50% of MFAs are earned by women? But where are these women on the walls of museums and galleries?

A friend introduced me to the Guerrilla Girls at the Dallas Museum of Art last weekend. They are a group of women artists with a message: Artists who are women, women and men of color, and LGBT are all extremely underrepresented and underpaid in the art world. Beginning in 1985, the Guerrilla Girls, an anonymous group of female artists and art professionals, have used gorilla masks, satiric posters, and videos to prove that edgy humor is a great weapon against unfair representation. The New York Times Book Review called their first book, Confessions of the Guerrilla Girls, “a leveling indictment of bigotry in the art world. The work of the Guerrilla Girls elevates cage-bar rattling to a fine art.”

The literary world is no different. VIDA is an organization that is committed to creating transparency about the lack of gender parity in publishing. Like visual arts, the literary arts also suffer a discrepancy in published women versus men. As members of Women in the Visual and Literary Arts, we have a unique opportunity to add our voices to other women’s and work toward change in this lopsided representation. Having an all-woman membership, we can pay particular attention to the needs and desires of our members, and help support each other in the marketplace.

I know that I will view the paintings at the MFAH and Menil with an eye toward representation of women on my next visit. You might find me making tally marks on my notepad, counting.

For further reading:

Poster work created by the Guerrilla Girls.

Cori Austin

"An ekphrastic poem is like a jolt of electricity surging through a work of art."
- Patricia Smith, ARTLines2

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