When I started this guest blog I was overwhelmed with your brilliant suggestions for artists to explore, and I followed up on as many of your tips as possible. Here is a taste of what Bitch readers recommend—I hope you’ll discover someone who inspires you!
[Daphne Odjig, Mother Earth Struggling for Her Life, 1975].
Daphne Odjig: A First Nation artist of Canada, Odjig’s work deals with the displacement of Indigenous Canadians such as herself, and also her relationship to the earth, which she feels is being destroyed by selfish human behavior like deforestation and pollution. There is a really expressive quality to an Odjig painting, with its bold colors and swirling, spherical figures, which seem to move off the canvas.
[Charlotte Salomon’s Life? Or Theatre? series].
Charlotte Salomon: A victim of the Nazi regime, Salomon died in Auschwitz at just 26. She is remembered for her intense collection of almost 800 gouache paintings, called “Life? Or Theatre?” They are deeply personal and often simplistic, making them feel almost like diary entries. It makes for harrowing art when you realize the horrors of what she went through, and that she had so much more to give as an artist and a person.
[Sokuntevy Oeur, Spin Cycle, 2010].
Sokuntevy Oeur: A leading arts figure in Cambodia, Oeur combines folk style with personal anecdotes from her relationships, whether that means depicting a lover or a family scene. There is a depth to her work, and the strong jewel tones she paints with are almost hypnotic. You can find yourself repeatedly looking at an Oeur picture and notice something different every time, particularly her intricate pattern details.
[Destiny Deacon, Adoption, 1993/2000].
Destiny Deacon: Deacon uses humor to try and make the viewer think about life for Indigenous Australians, especially as children, and their struggle for acceptance. Her own experiences contribute to this and she uses them repeatedly as subject matter for her work, alongside the dolls that she gathers up to be protagonists in the narratives she creates.
[Joyce Wieland, Oh Canada, 1971].
Joyce Wieland: One of Canada’s biggest feminist artists, Wieland puts womanhood first. Her lipstick piece, Oh Canada, takes a really basic idea of a woman’s open mouth, and transforms it into an image of unity for female Canadians as they sing the National Anthem. It marks them as one and the same, despite their individual nuances; they all have the same lipstick and apply it in a precise pattern. The use of cosmetics doesn’t feel frivolous or too girly here, but it is a simple way of grouping together Wieland’s subjects: half of her nation.
[Lisa Solberg, Butterknife, 2010].
Lisa Solberg : “Ever since I was a kid I’ve said I want to be on the sign of my hometown: ‘Welcome to Barrington, IL, birthplace of Lisa Solberg’,” she says, and I can’t see why they wouldn’t want to make it happen. Her work is littered with streaks of paint, dripping lines, scribbles and even metal studs, but it’s always engaging and eye-catching; something keeps drawing you in. The canvases feel like stream-of-conscious moments that have been pushed to the limits by a layering process that reveals and conceals different levels for the viewer.
I got even more great recommendations beyond the ones I’ve mentioned here, but obviously this post couldn’t go on indefinitely. I hope that you’ve enjoyed learning from other readers and seeing what they’re into, even in such a small dose. Part of why I love Bitch is its ability to create a forum where we can discuss the issues that interest us, and the link between art and feminism luckily seems to be something that doesn’t just resonate with me, but with a lot of you. Keep discovering great artists and shouting about them!