new art series ordinary goddess 2 hand cut collage sharmon davidson

Ordinary Goddess 2, hand cut collage on vintage book cover, 8 x 11 in


MARCH, 2021


“Of the top 100 most successful contemporary artists from 2000 to 2019, only seven are women….The art world gender gap is visible throughout the sector: women are under-represented in galleries, in permanent museum collections and in temporary exhibitions. This all leads to less media coverage and lower market demand which results in significantly lower auction prices compared with their male counterparts.”   (Artprice on the contemporary art market, 2020)

new art series women's suffrage march 1912

American Suffragette parade in New York City, May 1912. (Credit: Getty Images)

Women’s History Month

As you probably know, March is Women’s History Month. It was designated as such by Congress in 1987. But I was surprised to learn that the whole thing started much earlier than that.

On March 8, 1911, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark. The holiday wasn’t widely celebrated in the United States until the United Nations began sponsoring it in 1975. (People WHM fact explainer) Congress declared the week of March 8, 1981, National Women’s History Week and six years later, it was expanded to a whole month.

But those are just facts. What do they mean to the average woman? The only way I can relate to them is through my own personal lens. I’ll share some of my experiences with you, including how this inspired me to embark on a new art series.

 “The fault lies not in the stars, our hormones, our menstrual cycles, or our empty internal spaces, but in our institutions and our education—education understood to include everything that happens to us from the moment we enter this world of meaningful symbols, signs, and signals.”                     (Linda Nochlin, Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?)

One Woman’s Personal Lens

First of all, I have to admit that until recently I had never given much thought to Women’s History Day or Month. That’s because I had never heard of it. Back in the ’70’s, of course, there was no such thing as social media. As a teenager, being absorbed by the usual teenager activities, I didn’t really pay much attention to the news. However, I’d be willing to bet that Women’s History Week (not yet a month at that time) didn’t receive much coverage, if any.
As a college student in the late ’70’s, concerned about reproductive rights, I became a member of NOW.  But in my art history classes, I don’t think women artists were ever mentioned. It might seem strange to younger women, but the lack of women artists didn’t strike me as unusual. What I mean is, it just didn’t register at all. As far as we knew, there were no women in the history of anything, so why should art be any different?
new art series women's equality march 1070

Women marching down Fifth Avenue in New York City as a part of the Women’s Equality March on August 26, 1970  (Photo by John Olson/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

During the ’80’s, I guess I was oblivious because I was so busy working at a low-paying job, and then raising babies. It wasn’t until I went back to college in the early ’90’s (when my children were six and three) that I began to grasp the bigger picture.

A Women’s Literature course exposed me to books such as A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) by Mary WollstonecraftThe Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening Class discussions opened my eyes to the sad truth: despite the sufferagist movement, the women’s movement in the ’60’s and ’70’s. and all the rest, women’s rights had made very little actual progress.


new art series guerilla girls feminist art

“In the mid-1980s, an anonymous collective called the Guerrilla Girls began creative activism demanding equal representation for women and nonwhite artists in major museums, plastering the city with eye-catching posters attacking persistent sexism and racism in the art world. Today, the Guerrilla Girls—known for wearing gorilla masks—continue using humor, facts, and flamboyant visuals to expose gender and ethnic bias, while emphasizing feminism’s necessity in 21st century art and society.”   (Smithsonian, The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist by Guerilla Girls)   

Consciousness – Raising

In one of my art education classes, we read and dicussed Linda Nochlin’s provocative famous essay, Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?  You may think the answer is obvious, but I’m just going to say that there are two important points here. The first is that throughout most of the history of human civilization, women were not given the opportunity, permission, or luxury to become accomplished artists. The second is that, despite everything being so heavily stacked against them, some of them actually did. We just didn’t know it because they weren’t included in the history books.

When I began to realize how many women artists there actually were, and how much of that history was hidden or ignored, I was astounded. The video above barely skims the surface!

new art series judy chicago quote

New Art Series

In light of the recent media attention around women’s rights issues, I was once again forced to confront the fact that we haven’t come nearly as far as I might have hoped. How was it possible that women still made only 82 cents on the dollar compared to men? 
I first addressed my “look how far we haven’t come” dismay in this post about social protest art. Over the past few years, I have begun making a small amount of what you might call  “activist art”. This isn’t only because  I consciously decided that’s what I should do. Art-making tends to be the way I work through things, and these were the things I was thinking about.
A friend noticed this trend in my work, and suggested I might do a series around these ideas. Well, I’ve made a lot more of them now, so a series it is! The working title is Ordinary Goddesses, but we’ll see where it goes. Stick around, there are more on the way!
creative block once we were goddesses collage sharmon davidson

Once We Were Goddesses, mixed media collage on vintage book cover, 17 x 12.5 in

I think of this one as kind of my “flagship piece” for the series

new art series ordinary goddess 3 collage sharmon davidson

Ordinary Goddess 3, hand cut collage, 11 x 9 in



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