Who Does She Think She Is?

I’ve shared info about this beautiful film previously…as a refresher: it’s a documentary film featuring five diverse artists who are also mothers. It explores the question, how do you do what you love, in this case art, and care for who you love? It goes into the economics of art, cultural and historical memory, feminism, family and labor, and so many other key issues of our time.
On Sunday I facilitated a post-screening panel at the Symphony Space in New York, which was streamed online and hosted at seven theaters across the country. You can watch it here.
One of the questions that has often come up in these screenings is the question: is it art if you don’t share it? So many women shy away from putting their work out into the public, much less the marketplace, because they fear it’s not good enough yet, or they don’t want to seem too egocentric, or they just don’t want to have to deal with assigning an economic value to what feels like such an organic process. But if art just sits in a drawer, can it really be considered art? Academy Award-winning producer Pamela Tanner-Boll, who put her blood, sweat, and tears into making this film, thinks not. At a recent talk back she talked about being sick of women making their art small or hiding it from the world. “You have a duty to share your art with the world,” she advocated.
Both the educational release and the house party kit (which is so beautiful, filled with the art of the women featured in the film) are now available. Get your school library to order one. Give it to your artist mom for a holiday gift.(And please let em’ know that you heard about it on Feministing if you decide to order–they’ll make a small donation to us.)

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6 Comments

  1. Comrade Kevin
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely, and this goes for all artists. I think the fear is often times that sharing art is automatically going to lead to an ego or arrogance, but the best artists I know have tons of humility.
    A very good friend of mine is talented in so very many ways and she is maddeningly reticent about advertising her talents beyond the Etsy account by which she sells some of her handicrafts. I encourage her as best I can, but the ultimate decision is purely hers.

  2. JLu
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    My main issue with the idea that something HAS to be in the public arena in order to be art is that the “public sphere” is historically a masculine space created by a patriarchal system.
    I’m not sure that I understand why it has to be public in order to be art. That isn’t the same thing as someone thinking that it is the artist’s obligation to their society to publicize their art.
    I think it just rubs me the wrong way to hear that someone, a woman, whoever, needs other to validate her art in order to call it that takes away from the empowerment, catharsis, or whatever experience the artist gets from the creation of art. The creative side of it should not be discounted simply because their is no reception.

  3. JLu
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Sorry about that last paragraph – that’s what you get for multitasking. I meant to say:
    I think it just rubs me the wrong way to hear that someone, a woman, whoever, needs others to validate her art in order to call it that. It takes away from the empowerment, catharsis or whatever experience the artist gets from the creation of art. The creative side of it should not be discounted simply because there is no reception.

  4. MiriamCT1
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    I have so much to say about this subject, but it hurts too much to put it into words.
    All I can say is that this producer’s words hurt and I’m glad she feels entitled to sit back in judgment about others and how they manage their creative lives.
    There are a lot of reasons why people don’t share their work besides the ones listed in the OP, it’s a complex issue.

  5. tulin
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    I agree. Definitely women should not be discouraged from sharing their art, but in no way, shape, or form should everyone feel they have a duty to ‘share it with the world’. A lot of art is intensely personal, or even if it’s not, sometimes you just want to share it with yourself.
    Absolutely it is wonderful when people share their emotional expression with others, but no one should be told they have a ‘duty’ to.

  6. Alessa
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Art isn’t defined by how many different eyes see it.

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