BY: QUENTIN STUCKEY
Attitudes are improving in today’s society. Attitudes towards sexuality, race and gender are being challenged as a means to make the world as good a place as it possibly can be. But there is still a long way to go, particularly when it comes to gender equality. In the aftermath of the feminist movement of the late 1960s to 1970s, women do indeed have far greater opportunities than any generation before. That, however, does not necessarily mean that sex discrimination does not exist in 2017. There are still areas in society where women’s voices and input are not present, surprisingly enough female artists in general are not as prominent in the art world as male artists.
Writer Maura Reilly said it best in her article “Taking The Measure of Sexism: Facts, Figures and Fixes” when she states: “the more closely one examines art-world statistics, the more glaringly obvious it becomes that, despite decades of postcolonial, feminist, anti-racist, and queer activism and theorizing, the majority continues to be defined as white, Euro-American, heterosexual, privileged, and, above all, male.” The ratio of female artists to male artists is definitely a low one, but with the advent of the internet and social media, female artists who venture into different artistic areas are being given a wide and accepting platform to share their work.
Women Who Draw is a recent website showcasing different types of artwork from female illustrators, cartoonists and graphic designers from all around the world “with an emphasis on female illustrators of colour, LGBTQ+, and other minority groups.” The website also sets out to introduce these artists to publishers, agents, art directors and editors. According to an article published in The Huffington Post, the website was founded by female illustrators Wendy MacNaughton and Julla Rothman in December 2016.
To this date, the site has 700 members with more on the waiting list. In an interview conducted with The Huffington Post, Julla Rothman described how she and MacNaughton spent time flipping through various art and illustration magazines, keeping track of the number of female artists who had their artwork published in each of the magazines. Based on their research, the two discovered that most of the magazine artwork was dominated by male illustrators. At first Rothman and MacNaughton were tempted to “call out the magazine publicly” but after more consideration, this outrage lead to the creation of Women Who Draw.
Rothman went on to discuss how the website’s main goal is ultimately to give unknown female artists more exposure, potentially giving them more opportunities in the global art world. The artwork and illustrations presented on the website’s directory is set up to view artwork organized by race, religion, location and sexual orientation, offering a versatile array of creative artwork. With online initiatives such as these, gender equality in artistic pursuits has the potential to succeed. Co-founder Julla Rothman put it best, when she said: “Making people aware and getting people talking about it more is a big first step in making change. Let’s get this conversation going.”