By Millie Wright
We are at a crux in history where conventions are being challenged and expanded. After years of racial and gendered struggle, black women are beginning to gain appreciation for their artistic talent and discriminatory struggles they have overcome to achieve these, that history had attempted to conceal.
Of these women was Augusta Savage (1892-1962), painted as ‘one of America’s most influential 20th-century artists’, whose work consisted of a diversity
Augusta Savage working on a piece, New York, NY, 1938. Source: Hansel Mieth/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
of striking sculptures. She is celebrated not only for her exceptional artistic contributions but also her lifelong advocacy for African- American’s equality within the Arts.
Savage was at the heart of the 20th century Harlem Renaissance, remembered as the ‘golden age’ of black art, music and literature.
The movement began due to the formation of a creativity hub of African American artists in liberal Harlem, New York, after their ‘Great Migration’ from repressive southern states.
Through her art and activism, Savage became an influential teacher to younger African-Americans and played a great role in shaping the careers of many of the Renaissance’s most prominent artists. Her creation of the multi-cultural establishment, ‘Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts’ in 1931 later renamed as the ‘Harlem Community Art Center’, in 1932, was fundamental to the Harlem Renaissance’s artistic advancements and would foster the development of 1,500 students.
For the remainder of her life, she continued to create groundbreaking work, such as her sculpture of a child from Harlem, Gamin, (1929) but what reinforced her greatest legacy and true masterpiece was the impression she left on her students.
A key impact, and one of many that the movement brought, was that Black artists have gained increased control over representations of Black culture and experience, which helped to later set the stage for the Civil Rights Movement.
Photo by Joshua Coleman
Great female artists have hardly been known in society because women in art have not been sufficiently researched, appreciated, or recognized by society despite their talent.
There are certain exceptions that women have been valued for their talent and their name has endured through history, such as Frida Kahlo.
Frida was a Mexican painter who was highly recognized for her art and expressionism, where she mirrored the dramatic events of her life that she remembered with great sensitivity. One of these events was an accident at the age of 18 that kept her at rest for a long time, the period during which she started to paint and express her thoughts and feeling through art.
Even though society has not previously valued the talent of other women unless they belonged to influential social classes, as is the case with Natalia Goncharova or Berthe Morisot, Frida Kahlo was recognized without belonging to an influential class, but for being a woman with revolutionary political ideas for the time. She was a popular activist and even participated in politics in the Communist Party, a great defender of feminism and the indigenous population.
Although her works were groundbreaking in expressing an image of a liberated, strong, and revolutionary woman, it can also appreciate a clear theme of sadness and pain.
A relevant fact was that in her first exhibition, she was ill, and the doctors advised her not to attend, but despite this, she installed a bed in the middle of the exhibition, where she rested, sang, and encouraged the exhibition.
Frida has been mentioned in musical works, paintings, and films such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Scar Tissue, a song dedicated to Frida. Moreover, there is a museum dedicated to her, that is called Casa Azul Museo Frida Kahlo, exclusively with her paints.
In conclusion, Frida Kahlo has been one of the few women that society that has been recognized for her talent thanks to 47 years of life full of struggle and defense of ideas without fear of consequences or repression.
Despite the worldwide pandemic, The Global FemART partnership continues to work hard to keep the Global FemART project going! Our project partners in the UK, Spain, Italy, Poland and Belgium are working extremely hard to keep conducting training sessions and developing the Global FemART Academy.
Changes due to Covid-19
Whilst the Global FemART project continues to help female artists and creatives, there have been a few changes to the way the project is running. Given that social distancing is in place and all the partners are working from home, the partnership has had to make a few alterations to our original plan! Don’t worry though, you can still benefit from the training and academy, just not in a face-to-face way for a while!
Artist CirclesTM delivery: In many of the partner countries, trainers have started to deliver the second round of Artist Circle sessions online, rather than face-to-face. Given the current situation, group meetings are not possible; however, with all the amazing technology available to us, we are able to conduct these sessions online, via platforms such as Zoom or GoToMeeting. Inova Consultancy, developers of the Circles methodology, have had previous experience of conducting Circles sessions online, with each session being just as successful, beneficial and rewarding as those conducting in a face-to-face setting.
The Italian partner, Materahub, has already finished their online training sessions and have praised the success of the training and its value for participants: check out the Materahub article for more details!
Transnational Partner Meetings: Given the current situation, the partnership has not been able to travel to have face-to-face partner meetings to discuss all aspects of the Global FemART project and the next steps to take! However, through the use of online platforms, the partners have been able to stay connected and ensure the project is managed effectively in each of the countries involved, and will continue to do so until it is safe to once again travel.
The second online pilot of the Global FemArt Artists Circles from the 6th to the 17th of April 2020 was a new and highly stimulating challenge that resulted in a successful and fulfilling experience for the participants and the facilitator, exactly as the first face-to-face pilot. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic circumstances, Materahub decided to carry out the 3 sessions as online mentoring sessions with 6 enthusiastic female “artpreneurs” willing to internationalise their creative businesses.
These experimental online Circles sessions were unexpectedly engaging and productive for everyone lasting even more than 3 hours. As one of the participants’ stated, “The organisation and realisation of these online Circles sessions guaranteed the opportunity for each single participant to learn, improve, listen to their peers, compare their own entrepreneurial approach to those of other “artpreneurs”, exchange opinions, experiences and advice made the difference for the real success of the sessions.
The opportunity for the participants to share, discuss and revise their opinions, experiences, views and suggestions was the most highly productive outcome of the Circles as a whole and they were grateful for their peers’ inputs that contributed to implement their work.
The whole process worked very well in Italy, the online experimentation was very successful and the period of total standstill due to the pandemics created some favourable factors for the circles such as the greater predisposition of the participants to self-analysis and willing to improve, as well as the great desire for confrontation and dialogue.