Art and Women
A new semester begins in September. I've been busy buying my daughter's kindergarten supplies lately. A friend named Ana, who has the same name as me, directly and sincerely helped me with my first kindergarten supplies. With her help, I completed a task that would typically take me over an hour by myself in just 30 minutes. She said it was so hard like me when she bought the new school supplies for the kids when she first knew nothing. She has great empathy. I am genuinely grateful for her warm heart.
Buying her school supplies and putting them in her pretty purple bag, my daughter is so happy she's already tying her bags as if she's going to school and looking at herself carrying backpack in her mirror. Most of all, I truly seems to be the greatest happiness to be educated and to be able to receive it.
In a news article, I recently saw a picture of Afghan schoolgirls on the way to last school day who could no longer go to school due to the Taliban occupation. Can they go back to school with their bags like they used to? Seeing my daughter running happily with her backpack on, I feel my heart aches at the sad reality of Afghan girls who may have to burn their backpacks with despair and fear, deprived of even her most fundamental rights in the corner of the globe. Just because they are women and girls, I are worried about the gloomy future they will have to face just because they are children.
Looking back on our history, women have been subjected to much oppression and sacrifice just because they are women. In the book "Remember Our Names (By Bridge Queen, Artbooks)," a book that introduces sixteen female artists who left their names and works in an era when women were not readily known for their names, the book discusses the social status, right of women in art history. The author reminds us that only 16 female artists 'officially' recorded in over 800 pages of Ernst Gombrich's "History of Western Art", which documented more than 3,000 years of art history. Right now, if we ask ourselves to write down memorable female painters in art history, the reality is that we cannot list a few.
ART BEFORE DISHES.' I believe this, and I try to act that way. O'Malley did it too, and that's something we're grateful for." (Some of the contents of the book)
Life as an artist is also like a pioneering life. It means that artistic activity requires more passion and effort than anything else. This is especially more harder for women with many restrictions on their activities and freedoms.
Na Hye-Seok (28 April 1896 – 10 December 1948) , the first Western painter and women's rights activist during the Joseon Dynasty, is evaluated as a person who left essential achievements in modern and contemporary history during the Japanese colonial period. In a conservative society based on male-dominated Confucianism, she held her solo exhibitions as a woman and a painter. The funny story was told that when the children who saw Western oil paint for the first time thought it was candy and tried to eat it. When she didn't even have a concept of art, especially when women were confined at home and depended on men only and thought it was her destiny, she struggled to live alone. She took great interest in her independent life as a painter and human rights issues as a woman.
Among Western female painters, I like Prada Kahlo, a Mexican surrealist painter. From her childhood polio to a severe train accident at the age of 16 and to her husband's Casanova-liked life, she brought the hardships of her life to life through her works. Due to her physical disability, she spent a lot of time alone, and she painted many self-portraits of her with the belief that she was the subject she knew best.
Once I exhibited some paintings about singing woman at an exhibition at Huntington Art Council. The woman in this picture is singing with her eyes closed. Nearby her, many beautiful flowers blossom endemically. Where even women can dream and sing to their heart's content, the community I live in now. However, many women do not have this kind of freedom somewhere in the world.
On the contrary, many women still have gone back in time and have been locked up in the past again. I sincerely hope that the time will come when they will be able to laugh again, sing, enjoy art, and draw again freely. I hope that my paintings can be a little comfort to them.
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Myungja Anna Koh