It’s free, fantastic, and you don’t even have to leave your own home! Whilst some campaigners focus on getting more female artists into mainstream galleries and museums, Sarah Parry encourages us to open up to a world of talented new female artists on the internet.
Whenever women are asked what are the most precious perks the revolution of the internet has brought into their lives, the usual ready retort often goes something like this: online shopping, cheap clothes via auction sites, getting groceries delivered to your doorstep or the fact that now some underrepresented groups of women get to actually be heard via internet forums. However, predominantly most responses are centred around consumerist hobbies such as online shopping sprees.
Well, forget the dark side of the world wide web – increases in credit card fraud and a vast sector of the population openly using it to searching out pornography – what I would like to highlight is something new, exciting and positive that the internet has gifted us with. Yes, I am going to go against the grain of internet-based journalism these days, and introduce you to something culturally enriching; something that web users can use yet it will not cost them a penny; something that is hardly ever celebrated that thousands of women are getting involved in, and this revelation is what I like to call chick art. Click flicks and click lit have got nothing on this.
We do all live in an increasingly consumerist society, with shopping ranked as one of womens’ favourite pastimes, so I suppose I can be forgiven for initially being blinded by an intergalactic array of sales gimmicks and consumer crackpot craziness on the ‘net. But eventually I started to see how the internet could potentially be a big break for global struggling creative types that go un-noticed by the big corporate chains.
Since I have had a gander around the internet, swooning in admiration at the vast array of top-notch female artistry on display, I have felt like a kid in a candy shop! When I am browsing I cannot help thinking to myself when I happen to stumble across some amazing femme artwork, how if the likes of Hallmark knew of this girl’s gift they would snap her up in a second. Yes, these online craftswomen are that good, and the world is their oyster thanks to the platform the internet has offered them.
I honestly think that the internet deserves a lot more credit for sharing knowledge of art. Pre-internet, a lot of kids only ever stepped foot in a gallery if they were on a school trip, while a large proportion of adults would not have visited one since they actually last went on their own school trips! It was a sorry state of affairs, and with the introduction of video games, multi-channel TV and the cinema, visiting an art gallery was far from top of many a person’s agenda. Appreciation of art had been stereotyped as a hobby for the aristocratic, an activity for a minted, highly-educated elite. Kids had a favourite Power Ranger, but not a favourite artist, and this was the way of the world.
Who would have predicted that when the internet came along that it would actually thrust art back into the spotlight of popularity? I certainly didn’t think so. Surely the more technology-saturated our society became, I thought, the more this indicated that society as a whole was drifting away from the art world altogether? I was wrong. For one of the more simplistic joys of using the internet is its convenience for the lazy user, as mass information can be churned out at the click of a mouse, and this meant that an art-thirsty public no longer needed to undergo the snooty sneers of gallery staff, as they tried to drag a pushchair full of kiddies through a busy art gallery, because now they could witness all the wonderment from their own homes. There is no entrance fee to broaden your artistic horizons within the twenty-first century, as web pages act as walls of wonderful portraits and the public are starting to aboard the net-art bandwagon.
Post-internet, artists have life a hell of a lot easier, as the days of pacing the streets handing out flyers to try and lure a soggy public into their freshly painted exhibition are gone, and spending countless hours attempting to flog artworks on a draughty market stall are over, too. The internet has been a crucial to self-promotion through the medium of a personal website, and I think both parties get a sweet part of the deal: the artist gets to easily promote their work, and we, the art-loving public get to eye up all their lovely repertoire free of charge and purchase one for our parlour if they are available for sale.
After discovering this almost cyber-renaissance in the new millennium’s art world I could not help but notice how many budding female artists there were, just struggling to get a bit of exposure and often just make a bit of money for themselves on the side by posting their paintings online. Pre-internet most of my female friends never had a favourite artist. If I would have randomly asked them, they probably would have snorted ‘MONET!’ just because they knew of the name, yet knew nothing of his collections. However, the internet has enlightened a lot of women across Britain in the art department, as a lot of my mates nowadays would list a fresh flock of female painters as their favourite female artists.
It seems that just as the masses looked to have given up on the flailing art world, and the internet looked set to hammer the last nail into its coffin, surprisingly the world wide web actually gave the art world a much needed kiss of life, so now my friends know of art other than Betty Boop and those Me To You bears which are emblazoned upon everything possible! The public are being presented with an overwhelming fleet of feisty female painters, and painters are pleased because the internet has spawned a crowd of feisty punters ready to consume their efforts: everybody’s happy!
Art is fashionable again, which surely deserves celebration, and even better chick art is chic which means that there are masses of creatively gifted women out there just waiting to be found. The internet like everything else does have its vices, which we are constantly reminded of throughout different sources of media, but it has made many female artists who thought that they would remain nobodies without corporate sponsorship very happy. These artists have proven that the internet has empowered content to ultimately overrule context, by their works being actively discussed in their droves broadly online, via their independent promotion. So now, as I have let you in on this femme influx of pretty painterly genius, I feel that I can fulfil my role as a catalyst for your artistic exploration by name-dropping a few of my personal favourites that can get you started.
The first artist that I have the honour of introducing is Jen Corace. Jen is a freelance illustrator with undeniable artistic talent, whose artistic convention is that she bases her pieces upon the Victorian-era, successfully merging a cocktail of new and old ambiance in her pretty, postmodern portraits. The reason that I list Ms.Corace as one of my favourite chick art discoveries is firstly, because when I see her pictures that they remain me of those quaint, illustrated biscuit tins that you get around Christmas time but blown up on to humungous canvases, and secondly that she does not try to paint a insight to the world we live in without the dark parts. A lot of women think that what constitutes modern feminine art is the constant use of pastel colours, or bubblegum pink overpowering everything, while Corace manages to paint portraits that scream femininity, yet in a subtle, classy panache. Her dashing pictures will snapshot you back to your childhood in a sprightly instant, of vibrant, youthful hues, but was her recent collection, ‘Swept Out To Sea’ that particularly caught my eye for representing the darkness of adolescence.
The classic collection can be viewed at: www.artstarphilly.com/exhibitions/jenCorace/jenCorace.html, and as soon as I saw it, I fell in love with it. The great allure with art is that the stories told within the picture frames are subject to multiple interpretations, unlike the simple soap operas that we are spoon-fed to us today, where almost everybody has the same take on what is happening, art leaves the possibility that different people will draw upon different elements of a picture. Artworks can mean one thing to one person, and another person can look at the same picture and grasp a whole different slant altogether, which I believe truly is its beauty. This Corace collection is a prime example of how chick art can do this, as the collection ‘Swept Out To Sea’ presents a female protagonist during an excursion to the beach, however the stereotypical ‘sunny skies’ scenery is not present because – I believe – the girl is suffering with depression. As a black wave is engulfing everybody at the beach, juxtaposed in binary opposition with the pastel hues of the seaside, and I perceive that this girl is trying to struggle with her illness contrasted with the optimistic connotations of the beach. Art keeps you guessing, and Corace is an intriguing enigma as you try to get into her head and suss out what she was thinking when she created such a dark collection. The bulk of this chick art entrepreneur’s work can actually be viewed on her personal web page: www.jencorace.com.
The second chick art bounty that I recently discovered, Katy Horan, caught my eye because within society today so many artists use animals in cartoons, or to sell as logos on the front of fashion items, yet this lady does something different within her pieces. In a world where we are constantly engulfed in a culture of corporate greed, civilised to walk in straight lines around skyscrapered landscapes and slave ourselves silly in offices nine til’ five: animals have escaped this movement. Animals (well the majority of them), are free to roam the planet naturally within their own habitat and free of the social shackles of wearing clothes, or working shifts for a living. On Horan’s website: www.katyart.com, you can witness an adventurous array of exactly what I am talking about. Horan’s works are almost a critique of these celebrities who dress their handbag dogs up in designer costumes, as she celebrates in her artistic aura how animals are meant to be free! Watch as these beautifully presented animals almost taunt human beings for their conformity, and ridicule the world that mankind has cocooned itself within. Whereas humans have motives, schemes and structures in their lives, in the realms of Horan’s surreal pieces she expresses the anomic nature of creatures, that over centuries humans have had drained from their existence.
The last chick art success story that I have stumbled upon goes by the name of Kathleen Lolley. Lolley currently seems to be moving on to bigger, better things, as her work has even recently featured on the front cover of band, My Morning Jacket‘s album, but the vast majority of her fan base has been circulated since her artworks were given pride of place upon the world wide web. Fans seem to be snatching up her available originals like hot cakes, as the majority of her portraits, displayed on www.kathleenlolley.com have actually been sold off!
What I adore about the Lolley’s works is how her paintings mix the picture book-esque animals of our childhoods with the big, bad adult world, and each portrait seems to relate to the process of growing up. Her works present the raw realities of heartbreak, responsibility and heartbreak which the picture books that socialised us never informed us of. Fairytale folk animals struggle with loves abandoning them, drink beer and deal with depression, and demonstrate how all our lives start out with this fresh vision of nature, then as we get older these cold characteristics creep in and rear us into our adulthood.
Overall, the internet has highlighted just how much female talent there actually is out there today, as it has always been there, but never been given the rightful exposure before that the internet offers. Women who work full-time hours, yet do a bit of art on the weekend are being able to make a name for themselves by creating their own online exhibitions, and it is great to see so many women being able to excel painting beyond being just a petty, part-time pipedream. Long live chick art!