Let’s start off with a fun fact dating back to the early 14th century, regarding women and their place in the art world. I’m sure you’ve all seen a renaissance painting or two, portraying a mysterious, shy woman, looking off in the distance. The reason she’s not making eye contact with the artist who is painting her? (Who, of course, was a man as women weren’t even allowed to pursue painting in this era.) In European culture, women were seen as submissive to men, and therefore forbidden to make eye contact. Since early on, women did not have too great of a start in the art’s world. Let’s not forget that any artists who were in fact female have mostly been left out of both, history and art books. It was not until centuries later that history had started to finally recognize and accredit the women who impacted the art world, yet never lived to see it. Not only are female artists extremely underrepresented in museums, galleries, and, history in general, but in addition, less than 50% of exhibitions include their work.
Of course, I’m not only speaking about female artists in Western Europe, or big museum contributors. I’m also talking about myself, a female photographer that has seen the gender bias in the creative community that surrounds our youth. So being a part of the creative community that is contributing to the artistic revolution within millennials, it seemed right that history doesn’t repeat itself and not only represents, but encourages female artists. Female artists, photographers, graphic designers, and more are contributing their ideas and eye for beauty everywhere thanks to social media. Social media is in fact where I got recognized for my photography, and through it, I gained many opportunities to change the dynamic of the creative scene.
My first big break was getting to shoot behind the scenes of a big rapper’s music video. Camera in hand, I swerved through the small streets in Hollywood hills, my eyes scanned the mansions and cars with names I couldn’t even pronounce. The rest of the photographers and videographers were male, but it didn’t dampen my spirits. However, what did was being whistled at by the rapper and his crew, including the other male photographers, who asked me if I was one of the extras. You know, the good looking girls that shake their ass and smoke a blunt with the rapper in his music video. It was almost amusing that nobody there took me seriously, and it pushed me to put my all into that shoot.
Doubt from others is one of the biggest motivators, and can sometimes result in your best work. Because I am passionate about photography as well as working in the music industry, I couldn’t let this experience discourage me from proving what I could bring to the table. I just want this to be a message to all the female artists breaking into the industry to never let their work ethic be trampled or belittled by the men who worked half as hard as you to get there. There is infinite space for women in the art world today as well as in the future, and although the fight is still ongoing, our persistence and determination in channeling our artistic medium provides definite proof that we will fill that space.
Written by Makena Mierta
Instagram & Twitter: @1800MTM
Los Angeles, CA Photographer