In my teens I remember a female artist I idolized, Björk Gudmundursdottir, declare that she was not, in fact a feminist and being upset with the idea that someone so powerful couldn't recognize that our work towards a society that treats women as a whole even halfway decently was not quite done yet. Or at all, actually.
Her, or any other Western woman's detachment from feminism is upsetting, because declaring that one is not a feminist undermines the fact that every right and privilege we have is the result of lifetimes of hard work and dissent on the part of other women, and since we are standing the shoulders of these giants it is our responsibility to return the favor by advocating in behalf of the next generations of women.
So I am always heartened, however superficial-seeming the trappings, when women who've made it in the arts give kudos to those who came before them.
Imagine, then, my delight when this month's Bust (which is a particularly good one-I have some beef with Bust, but that's an another story) featured Neko Case in the cover with the words "Scorned as timber, beloved of the sky"tattooed on her arms. This happens to be the title of my favorite Emily Carr painting.
Not a ton of people outside of Canada know who Emily Carr is, even though she's considered one of the earliest painters in the new world to adopt the modernist, impressionist, or post-impressionist style of painting. She was also very notable for her interest in the Northwest Coast Native art, preserving in her paintings many important sites of the First Nations and being influenced by it's forms, something unheard of for any white artist at the time, let alone a woman.
A trailblazer of the wilderness, both figuratively and literally, an early conservationist and an environmentalist before the term even existed, a writer, a rebel, an outsider, Carr deserves her own post entirely, but here's to the perfect convergence of Neko Case, who just released a raw, emotional, awesome new album, the radical, independent Emily Carr and the best tattoo tribute ever.
Women in art close to your heart? Oh and I do believe there's a very intense feminist rant in the not-too-distant future of this blog-look out mama!