Editor's Note: The following interview is between Les Femmes Folles, volunteer organization founded in 2011 with the mission to support and promote women in all forms, styles and levels of art from, and Rebecca George, an artist whose work examines an array of underlying issues pertaining to the woman's body. Her work is currently exhibited in "Feminism (n.): Plural" at the Woman Made Gallery, running from May 15 to June 27, 2015. The original interview was published on the Les Femmes Folles website on May 15.
Rebecca talks to LFF about taking her career in her own hands, founding The Art House, feminism, stellar advice for being an artist, and much more.
Where are you from? How did you get into art?
I’m from the south side of Chicago– I’ve been interested in drawing since I can remember. I pursued it throughout high school and college, which led to teaching art as well.
Tell me about your upcoming show and why it’s important to you.
"Feminism Plural" at Woman Made is an opportunity to exhibit with a group of talented and innovative women artists around the subject of being a woman. In recent years, my work has explored related themes of the female body, identity, cultural conditioning and impermanence. This will be the first show I’ve participated in where all the artists are women and the work is all related somehow to being a woman.
Labor of Love, Rebecca George
Do you think your city is a good place for women in art? Do you show your work elsewhere/is there a difference in how your work is received?
I have found Chicago a challenging place to find opportunities as an artist, but that didn’t stop me from creating them. I founded The Art House in 2012 through which I have supported a large amount of local adult visual artists in their studio and professional practice. The Art House also exhibits work and in fact, is about to begin curating its first national exhibit: Art by America. We partner with artists and other art spaces, such as Arts on Elston, to help promote artists and increase opportunities for exhibiting work.
Artist Wanda Ewing, who curated and titled the original LFF exhibit, examined the perspective of femininity and race in her work, and spoke positively of feminism, saying “yes, it is still relevant” to have exhibits and forums for women in art; does feminism play a role in your work?
In that I feel somewhat insistent about the right women have to choose not to marry and have children– cultural conditioning in many societies still look down upon unmarried women who raise animals instead of children. I represent myself struggling within myself in much of my paintings. The animals appear in that narrative as well.
If you could make one wish for art today, what would it be?
A stronger bridge between artists making work and people interested in learning more about it (potential supporters, collectors, etc), regardless of the artist’s geographic location. The small markets for contemporary artists are often exclusive and fail to represent the best quality work being made, in favor of presenting work of artists whom are already known.
State of Being, Rebecca George
What do you think is the most important issue facing artists—and/or artists who are women—today?
Sustaining their artistic practice in a way that allows the majority of their time to be spent making art rather than working jobs to survive.
Ewing’s advice to aspiring artists was “you’ve got to develop the skill of when to listen and when not to;” and “Leave. Gain perspective.” What is the most helpful advice you have received?
This is something I learned and pass on: art is an action. Do not try to make art in your head. Additionally, practice restraint– frequently get some distance from what you’re working on and consider it without judgment. Live with it until you KNOW what to do.
Les Femmes Folles is a volunteer organization founded in 2011 with the mission to support and promote women in all forms, styles and levels of art from around the world with the online journal, print annuals, exhibitions and events; originally inspired by artist Wanda Ewing and her curated exhibit by the name Les Femmes Folles (Wild Women). LFF was created and is curated by Sally Deskins. LFF Books is a micro-feminist press that publishes 1-2 books per year by the creators of Les Femmes Folles including Intimates & Fools (Laura Madeline Wiseman, 2014) and The Hunger of the Cheeky Sisters: Ten Tales (Laura Madeline Wiseman/Lauren Rinaldi, 2015). Other titles include Les Femmes Folles: The Women 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 available on blurb.com, including art, poetry and interview excerpts from women artists. A portion of the proceeds from LFF books and products benefit the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Wanda Ewing Scholarship Fund.