Over the past few years there has been a noticeable and revolutionary surge in young women artists engaging in empowering DIY practices, as a means of reclaiming themselves and their position in the art world today. Whether through forming art collectives with fellow peers and putting on group shows, such as Petra Collins’s ‘Gynolandscape’, or starting up their own feminist publications. These young women are fostering a much-needed sense of inclusivity and sisterhood for the contemporary emerging women artists, paving the way for self-representation and empowerment through creative work.
It is through these DIY modes of practice that these young women are able to provide new networks and platforms for their fellow peers to feel safe and supported in their work. Through the mediums of Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook, it has become increasingly easy for these women artists to connect and engage with one another, and to form creative and meaningful collaborations. These DIY practices allow the opportunity for young women to take up space and create their own dialogues around femininity, as opposed to subscribing to those already carved out for them, that appeal to mainstream ideals of womanhood.
We now take a look at some of the most prominent feminist collectives and publications that are causing waves in today’s art world and feminist debate.
Curated and founded by visual artist Beth Siveyer, Girls Get Busy is a feminist creative platform that supports artists, writers and musicians, which exists both online and in print. Started by Siveyer in 2010 as a means of creating a support network for women artists to build their self-esteem and confidence, it has grown into a widely celebrated and respected platform. Girls Get Busy has held numerous events such as book readings and zine festivals, and regularly features blog ‘take overs’ from other feminist art collectives such as OOMK and Peachy N Keen.
Comprising of 16 UK and Ireland based women, including artists such as Samantha Conlon and Vanessa Omoregie, the Bunny Collective aims to promote emerging women artists working outside of the US. The work showcased mainly deals with women’s experiences in regards to internet culture and self-representation, both online and offline. Members of the collective recently had their work exhibited in the group show Soft Matter which took place in May earlier this year in Manchester, UK.
Headed up by prominent contemporary feminist artist Petra Collins, the Ardorous was started during her last year of high school. Formed as a reaction against a male dominated art world in which she could not see herself or her peers being accurately represented, Collins’s goal was to provide a platform for women to share their work and empower themselves. In her own words, “the goal of the Ardorous is to question the current ideology of femininity and recast women in positive/dominant roles”. Work from members of the collective can be seen in Collins’s new book Babe.
Founded and edited by Ione Gamble, Polyester draws its inspiration from the John Waters quote: ‘have faith in your own bad taste’. This feminist fashion publication offers a refreshing and liberating respite from the commonly oppressive and damaging ideals held up by the mainstream fashion world. Gamble’s publication instead hails personal style and self-expression as a freeing, fun and significant feminist practice. Polyester recently co-curated the exhibition Female Matters in London earlier this month alongside Clio Peppiatt, to raise funds for The Dahlia Project, which supports survivors of FGM.
Dedicated to conversation and dialogue between young women of colour, the Coalition is committed to challenging current definitions of feminism and intersectionality, and provides an inclusive platform for under-represented women artists to take up space with their work. Started by Fabiola Ching when she was 17 years old as a web-based publication, the Coalition has grown into a series of printed issues, a staff of contributors, and regularly features reviews, interviews and essays online. A highlight of the printed zines is the segment ‘Cool Babes Doing Cool Things’, which celebrates the creative achievements of young women of colour creating empowering artistic work today.
Celia Wickham is a visual artist and filmmaker, and is the editor of the feminist zine themilkandhoneyzine.tumblr.com