Monday, June 22, 2009
Gender in the Arts; Gender on Etsy
Once upon a time, long, long ago when I started as a potter, there were only a handful of women in a sea of male potters. The way that men typically approach pottery was In, and what I did, for the most part, was not. The In thing was wood or reduction firing of simple, primitive, massive pots. I, on the other hand, liked thin pots with careful, intentional imagery. I liked oxidation firing in an electric kiln at cone 6, which is economical, earth-friendly, requires no chopping of wood, and uses no power tools.
Things have changed since long, long ago, and now the way that I like to make pots is In. There are more female potters, and more women in the arts. We are now 46% of all full time career artists, but we earn 75% of what our male counterparts earn. So long, long ago isn't really all that far, far away, is it.
I admit that I absolutely love how there are less than 4% men as sellers on Etsy. It's not at all that I dislike male artists- I just really, really enjoy having women drive the aesthetic bus. I love women making most of the treasuries, and dominating the discussions. Mind you, for most of my artistic life, I was the 4% minority, so I think that a bit of turnabout is decidedly fair play. And though Etsy has recently been called a Female Ghetto, I think that this is missing the point, which is that art always gestates in underground settings. By the time any art trend peaks and becomes mainstream, it is creatively dead. Etsy may be the time and place when young (compared to me) women create a new genre of art. I don't know what it is exactly, but it's very interesting to watch the flow of visual ideas on Etsy. It's not something I've ever seen before. Something new is happening.
If you have any ideas or observations about this, please comment. I'm interested.