Painting Gloria Steinem's portrait for the Ms. Foundation
Gloria Steinem, oil on linen 42 x 30
I created this original oil portrait for the
benefit of the Ms. Foundation and to honor such an amazing champion, not only
of Women’s rights but for all humanity. I painted Gloria wearing her Medal of Freedom given to her by President Obama, her famous silver conch belt and the Ms. Foundation Logo behind her.
Throughout history, the
fields of fine art have unfairly promoted men’s artistic efforts and given
little or token recognition to woman’s art. In today’s world, woman are no
longer hindered in their creative expression due to social restrictions or of
the time demands motherhood and homemaking.
So what accounts for today’s lack of recognition of women artists?
Here is what Wikipedia says about woman in the art world:
female artists have been involved in making art throughout history,
their work often has not been as well acknowledged as that of men. Often
certain media are associated with women artists, such as textile arts. Women's roles in relation to art,
of course, vary in different cultures and communities. Many art forms
considered to be created predominantly by women have been historically
dismissed from the art historical canon as craft, as opposed to fine art. Women artists faced challenges due
to gender biases in the mainstream fine art world. They have often encountered
difficulties in training, travelling and
trading their work, and gaining recognition.”
In his treatise Women
and Art, Karl Scheffler said, "In an Amazonian state, there would be
neither culture, history nor art." He went on to fault women’s inability
to gain spiritual insight. Some male
artists have also degraded their female colleagues. The Impressionist Edgar
Degas, a known male supremacist, saw women as "animals" with an
"absence of all feeling in the presence of art." American artist,
Thomas Hart Benton believed that "an art school is a place for young girls
to pass the time between high school and marriage."
Another excellent example of this discrimination involves the world renown
Sculptress Anna Hyatt Huntington. Despite being a 20th century artist, when she
won first place in a Paris competition for her life-size equestrian statue of
Joan of Arc in 1910, the judges took back the prize when they discovered she
This unfairness is also evident in the higher levels of
professional oil portraiture. It is usually the men, that arrange for the most important and expensive
high profile portrait commissions. In fact, if you search the best portrait
painters, you will find only men listed. The galleries, portrait brokers, and historians
contribute to this ongoing bias.
Woman portrait artists have a very special and unique gift to
give to portraiture. We are not so encumbered by egos but instead evoke a
genuine care and sensitivity to the human spirit. These are very important and necessary
attributes for fine traditional portraiture. As a professional portrait artist
for nearly 30 years I have found what makes a beautiful timeless portrait is
truth, love and the faithful giving of the artist’s spirit totally onto the
The more goodness and love the artist
feels from within and projects out onto the canvas the more the portrait flows,
capturing the spirit of the individual. Creating portraits and art is not only
an important cultural need but it is truly spiritual…a devotion to faith and
love and truth.
It is long overdue for women to finally be recognized and treated
fairly inthe art
world. As artists, womenhave much to contribute, especially in today’s
unsettled and uncompassionate world.