The Art of Feminism

So much is said on the 8th of March every year. From celebrating the achievements of women in history across various platforms to empowering the modern day woman with equal rights.

However, what really caught my attention was Snapchat’s new filters of Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie and Rosa Parks as the brand’s way to commemorate women on this day.


“In the age of the selfie, Frida is considered to be the first selfie artist. She told a story of love, life, strength and passion through her self-portraits.” 

– Beatriz Alvarado from the Frida Kahlo Corporation told CNET in a statement.

Notwithstanding the debate this move sparked with regard to the whitening of Frida Kahlo face or the fact that Marie Curie probably never wore smoky eyeliner or fake lashes in lab! Narcissism doth beat feminism thus!

But the Feminist art movement actually dates back to the late 1960’s amidst the fervor of anti-war demonstrations as well as civil and gay and lesbian rights movements. Feminist artists sought to change the world around them through their art; through cultural influences that would transform stereotypes.

Art then, was not merely for aesthetic admiration, but an avenue that could also incite the viewer to question the social and political landscape that would eventually lead to equality. Before feminism, the majority of women artists were denied exhibitions and gallery representation based on the sole fact of their gender.

The Dinner Party (1974-1979)

Artist: Judy Chicago

The Dinner Party is one of the most well-known pieces of Feminist art in existence and is permanently housed at the Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. The installation consists of a large banquet table with place settings for thirty-nine notable women from history and mythology. The settings have gold ceramic chalices and porcelain plates painted with butterfly- and vulva-inspired designs. In addition to the thirty-nine settings, there are the names of 999 other women painted on the tiles below the triangular table. The Dinner Party participates in the feminist revision of history, initiated during the 1970s, in which feminists worked to re-discover lost role models for women, rewriting the past that had previously only included male voices. In the combination of intricately wrought textiles, tile, and porcelain, Chicago reclaimed the realm of “high art” to include what had traditionally been relegated to the lower status of “women’s work.”


the dinner party installation - judy chicago

“Do I still hope that feminist art can make a difference in the world? My answer is yes. I continue to believe that we need an art that can help us see the world through other people’s eyes and thereby lead us to a future where the world will be made at least a little more whole.”

This women’s day, let art take over. Let the sense of creativity take over our sense of judgment. Let’s understand Feminism for what it truly stands for; equality.

©Nazneen Dharamsey, 2016. All rights reserved.


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