For years I have collected the names of women artists as a mantra, an affirmation. If they could do it, damn it, so could I.
Attending the Wack exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery, I was appalled by some of the facts presented by the Gorilla Girls regarding the exclusion of contemporary women artists from the major North American galleries. How could this still be a problem after all these years? Even more disturbing was that the numbers had actually been deteriorating since the mid 80’s.
This inspired me to install my private, obsessive list in a very public space. The Name of the Artist documents this performance, and the reactions of the people who came into the space during the installation. What I had conceived of as a quiet protest suddenly became a much larger social conversation, involving many young men and women, who were as stunned as I by the cold hard facts. That this sort of extreme gender inequity would even exist in this day and age is mind boggling.
For those of us who came of age in the era following the feminist movement of the 60’s and 70’s, we thought the work was done. The Name of the Artist is a poignant reminder that apparently there is still work to do.