As a young girl, I watched my mom struggle for equal opportunities, equal rights and equal pay in her career as a lawyer. She fought long and hard, even sleeping in her office when necessary. When she won more cases and billed more hours than any other lawyer in her firm, she was told she ‘got lucky’ that year. When she finally made partner, she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer the very same year. She was dying. She would not be able to enjoy the higher income and status she fought so hard for so long to achieve.
After losing her, I told myself I never wanted to work that hard. In my early 20’s I moved to Spain, where people work to live instead of living to work. And I was searching for my own, individual path—one with less stress and disappointment. After years of studying and exploring more traditional careers, I finally decided that where I belonged was in the ceramics studio.
I wanted to be an artist. A career that was polar opposite to that of my mother. However, I found that some of the conditions are more-or-less the same. Women artists across the world are underpaid, under-valued and their work underappreciated. The fight, it seems, never ends.
Each year, March 8th serves as a reminder of the continuous struggle for women’s rights and the work that still needs to be done to achieve gender equality. It’s also an opportunity to come together to celebrate the worldwide achievements of women.
Art for International Women’s Day
I usually make artwork to commemorate the day, and this year is no different. I’m building a sculpture of a pregnant woman’s body. It’s my first coil-built sculpture of this size.
There are two main themes in my work; nature and women. The inspiration from nature is clear and straightforward to understand…. But why women? Upon more reflection, I’m starting to understand how much my mom’s struggle marked me as a young girl. I see women’s strength and I feel our struggle deeply.
Becoming a mother myself and accompanying many friends through complications with fertility, birth and motherhood brings my regard and angst even further to the surface. Perhaps these experiences even accentuate the stories I carry from my childhood.
All of it is coming out in my artwork; my frustrations, my anger and resentment. My grief and sorrow. All released from my subconscious, through my hands and into the clay. I’m not sure where this new line of work is leading, but I’m enthusiastic about developing it further.
Supporting women artists
I’d also like to take a moment to recognize and thank all of the individuals and organizations that are fighting to get women artists recognized and honored in the art world. Here are just a few: NAWA, WomanMade, Manhattan Arts International, All She Makes, Where Are the Women Artists, Art Girl Rising.
This International Women’s Day, let’s be reminded of the accomplishments of women everywhere. We have come so far and it is inspiring to witness the progress with my own eyes. By celebrating art from female creators, we honor their hard work and courage. From their hands comes beauty, inspiration, and insight for us all to appreciate and learn from. Let us embody their spirit through conscious action: gratitude for what our mothers have endured before us and strength in the face of furthering equality. To every mother who paved a path for us: thank you! May art show that in its diversity of inspirations and styles, each voice can make a difference towards progress together.