“i’m gonna pull out my tampon and start splashing around*”

Feminist.


There. Said it. What are you thinking of? Susan B. Anthony? Lesbians in leather? Central Core Imagery? You’re thinking of something. There are few words I’ve found to be more polarizing, especially among artists. Say that you’re a “feminist” making art about What It Means to Be a Woman, and you’re met with uncomfortable shifting, eye-rolls, even assumptions about your sexual orientation or how often you shave your legs.

My local library reminded me a few days ago that March is Women’s History month (thanks library!) with a shelf full of theme-appropriate books. It also reminded me of Ball State’s Nina B. Marshal memorial Women’s Art Show. Every March, the female faculty put on a show with selected female art students. The pieces of work frequently address “womenness” but sometimes don’t. The only garunteed common thread among all the pieces is that each is done by a woman associated with the Ball State Art Department. And, every March comes the chorus of “It’s not fair” and “why don’t we have a men’s show?” to which the answer is always “every show is a man’s show.” Not that there isn’t truth to this. There is. But it just feels like the same argument over and over and over-

Then, one day, I had a conversation with a friend about why she objected to the women’s show-
“I don’t know, I mean, it’s nice on a resume, but aren’t we past that? I’d like to think my work can stand on its own whether I’m a woman or not.”

Are we past it? The art world is still very much an old boys club, and violence, discrimination, condescension  and just general crappiness are still a part of women’s lives everywhere, but really, how many middle-class American white girls have ever been truly oppressed? I’ve been condescended to, talked down to and thought of with low expectations, but not necessarily because of any particular part of anatomy I did or didn’t have.  So while I want to get angry and make art about Being a Woman and a Feminist, because of the INJUSTICE of the past, it just sounds hollow. And Silly. Even to me. And also I don’t really feel all that angry. Just vaguely perturbed and mostly confused.

Thanks to the suggestion of the aformentioned themed library shelf, I recently started reading Simon de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex.** I’ve only finished the introduction so far, but I’ve already decided de Beauvoir knows her shit. After fifteen pages briefly outlining the ways in which women have been thought to be and treated as inferiors, she then stops to caution that

We must not, however, be any less mistrustful of feminists; arguments: very often their attempt to polemicize robs them of all value. If the ‘question of women’ is so trivial, it is because masculine arrogance turned it into a ‘quarrel’;when people quarrel, they no longer reason well. What people have endlessly sought to prove is that woman i s superior, inferior or equal to man…Every argument has its opposite, and both are often misleading. To see clearly, one needs to get out of these ruts; these vague notions of superiority, inferiority and equality that have distorted all discussions must be discarded in order to start anew.”

The generations  of feminists before us ensured we’d be able to vote, wear pants, make decisions about out own bodies and even be taken seriously as artists. Yes, maybe, we are ‘past it.’ So can we retire feminism? Can we tuck it away into history only to be taken out everyonce in a while to be lovingly patted on the head like a crazy old aunt?

Or, maybe, it’s just time to shift feminism’s focus. We’re past it and onto bigger things. While you (reader) and I might be so privileged, we’re a minority. The site Global Issues.org has an entire section on Women’s Rights (or lackthereof) around the world, with depressing facts and quotes like this one, from Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization in 2010,

“Thirty years after the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), many girls and women still do not have equal opportunities to realize rights recognized by law. In many countries, women are not entitled to own property or inherit land. Social exclusion, “honor” killings, female genital mutilation, trafficking, restricted mobility and early marriage among others, deny the right to health to women and girls and increase illness and death throughout the life-course

And even better, is this video of author Isabel Allende’s TEDTalk.

So, Ladies (and gentlemen!), this month (or any month, really), let’s be silly. Let’s be loud, let’s put on make up or shave our heads or both- Let’s cook and clean and write manifestos, let’s be loud, let’s scream Ani Difranco, argue about the meaning of the word ‘feminism’ and burn any undergarments that might be at odds with our political ideals. But most importantly, let’s be grateful these are all options. Let’s educate ourselves about the women who aren’t as lucky and pay it forward.

  • Global Issues – wiki-esque site littered with links to related topics.
  • Madre– NY based organization with projects in countries all over the world. Also a great educational site.
  • AWAKEN, Inc. – Afghan Women and Kids Education and Necessities. Not for profit that works to provide schools, medical facilities and ocupational training to women and kids in Afghanistan. They’re also the charity I’m running for this year, which you can read about over at my other blog, See Sheep Run. Want to feel lazy? Read about Awaken’s fantastic founder, Bibi Barami.

While I’m grateful to pioneer artists like Judy Chicago, who were loud and furious because they were first and had to be, I agree more with my ever-hero Eva Hesse who declared
“The best way to beat discrimination in art is by art. Excellence has no sex”

* Swan Dive.
**Not only is it one of those “you must read this if you have ovaries and a pulse” books I’ve heard about for forever, but I have a weakness for anything French or elegant. And the cover is both)

People Who Make and Do Neat Things-Adam Houston

(Here it is! As promised! the first ever, bi-monthly interview with someone doing Neat Things.* Each interviewee is asked five basic questions (who, what, where, when, why) and asked, not only to find an answer but also the question they wish to answer.

This month we get to hear from Adam Houston, a senior painting major at Ball State University. Adam’s work ranges from highly illustrative drawings to near sculptural paintings using everything from traditional media to experimental substances such as tar and rust.

WHO would you never like to meet?
Clement Greenberg. It’d be really, really hard for me to enjoy a conversation with him, I think.

WHAT would you make if time/money were not an issue?
Well, my paintings tend to be small and inexpensive, just because of the way I’m interested in working, so really if I had an unlimited budget I’d probably focus on building a space: someplace to sleep, with studios and maybe a gallery.

L
ately I’ve been interested in architecture that uses recycled and reused building materials. I just don’t see much point in buying NEW things if there are perfectly acceptable used alternatives available and already made? I love the idea of raiding junkyards and warehouses to build my space: it’d be a treasure hunt of epic proportions.

WHERE do you do your best work?
NOT at home. In studios, under trees, at work, whatever. Just, NOT at home. Which, sooner or later, when studios are no longer easily available, I should work on changing. I either need to correct my studio habits so that I CAN work at home, or develop new methods of working that allow me to take my studio process anywhere. Either one has interesting prospects
.

WHEN do you think clearest?
I don’t. Ever. My mind is constantly buzzing and rarely focused, and more and more I’m realizing it’s a severe handicap that’s not going to get better. I just have to have the discipline to work through it.

WHY didn’t you say that?
I was small and shy and probably a little intoxicated.


BONUS- could you please write a haiku about the worst thing you ate this week?
I will never rid
my palate of bitter bug juice.
Rest in Peace, Spider.

Show! – Hannah Barnes @ It Looks Like It’s Open

'Quad' by Hannah Barnes

Last night, went to friend and former professor, Hannah Barnes’s opening at It Looks Like It’s Open, 13 E Tulane (behind Cup o Joe’s on High)

And you should too!

More info can be found here.

And the livin is easy.

That's right. Gradimicated biznatches.

Summer! Huzzah! Time for sun tea and bike rides and farmer’s markets and reading… and more consistent updates!*

Bonus- now that I’m free of The Man (read; higher education) for a bit, it’s also time to finish up some old projects and start some long awaited ones. Including:

~finally uploading some long overdue undergrad stuff

~The Goodwill Project. All three memorial sculptures are now finished (you can see two of them now here.), leaving just some typing/framing/display things to do with the documentation. This week I’m going to investigate a few ideas I have for a possible show.

~The Muncie Drawing Project: in which I spend the next month taking requests from Muncians, the month following drawing them all, and the month after that (the last before my lease is up) displaying them somewhere, as sort of a “peace out, thanks for the goodtimes” type of show. If you live in/have lived in Muncie and have a request you can either email it to:
mun.see_drawing_project [at] yahoo [dot] com
Or submit it here.

~AND, last but not least, I’ve signed up for my first mini-marathon (Indianapolis, 10/16) which is not only my first mini, but also my first time running as a St. Jude Hero. While not an art project, per se, St. Jude’s is definitely worth checking out. As if treating and researching cures for kids wasn’t cool enough, part of St. Jude’s mission is to provide care for all children who come there. (No family is ever turned away because of their ability to pay for medical treatment.) As a St. Jude Hero (their term, not mine), I’ve committed to raising $500. So, in between checking out some photos, submitting silly drawing ideas, if you could check out the above link, spare 5 minutes and 5 dollars you’d be doing a really really good thing.

And now, I believe it’s time for some Conan and a Fat Tire. hurrah summer indeed.

Here there be pictures. And stuff.

Finally put some undergrad work up! Also cleaned up the site itself (plain

is the new fancy)

Also getting pretty okay with soon being able to separate ‘undergrad’ from ‘current’ work

Also it smells like rain. There’s no reason you need to know this, but it’s still pretty grand.

‘Russia should be go by now.’

In the library and the gentleman working at the computer across from me is playing a computer game.

I hope.

Because if not, we have been taken, and it’s not long before the Russians fall as well.

Though a part of me also hopes that while the rest of us spend our evening with outlines and projects and facebook and tests, close by is some one really doing something.

an open letter.

Dear brain,

Up until now, we here at Cat Lynch have been very pleased with your performance. That being said, however, lately we’ve noticed a distinct lack of focus and blatant, blithe denial of  academic responsibilities.

I write this, not as a warning but as a reminder. The thesis show may be up, but there remain three weeks in this last semester (three weeks, I might add, for you to finish all those tasks which have been put off in favor of aforementioned show). I know it may seem that we have no leverage, as we cannot fire you, without causing sever distress to our organization, but we have ways of reducing your diet to Jane Austen and reality tv shows. And we mean it.

Thank you for your time

Cat.