Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Girl Dolls

"For surely it is time that the effect of discouragement upon the mind of the artist should be measured, as I have seen a dairy company measure the effect of ordinary milk and Grade A milk upon the body of the rat.  They set two rats in cages side by side, and of the two one was furtive, timid and small, and the other was glossy, bold and big.  Now what food do we feed women as artists upon?"-Virginia Wolf

I found some precious treasures at the thrift store the other day, a pile of antique broken and aged dolls lying tucked away in the backroom on the shelf.  My heart skipped a beat and I thought to myself they must be saving these for something really special.  I asked if they were going to be for sale and how much they might be.  The woman said:  "Oh those, yeah those are really good for nothing I was just saving them for my son because maybe he could make art with them.  That's about all they might be good for."  Happily she sold them to me for a couple bucks and I felt like I had won the lottery.
Now a couple more days have passed and the remark has stuck.  I wonder why do I think of these beautifully worn and aged dolls as precious and art in their current form. While others think of them as garbage, but even more worthy of consideration is why is art only one smidgeon above garbage on the the value ladder?

I could argue why a doll holds artistic beauty and purpose, a beauty created by the maker and infused with love by the beholder, but does one need to argue the obvious?  What's less obvious that needs arguing is the devaluing of feminine interests and artists as a whole in our capitalist society.
This week I read 'A Room Of One's Own' by Virginia Woolf.  This essay is incredible.  There are so many highlighted pages to return to in my little copy.  I think what spoke the clearest to me was that in order for art to have integrity, it must emerge from an incandecent mind, free from bitterness or desires unfounded.  I couldn't agree more; but she goes on to illustrate that for women the ability to be free of these woes is near to impossible considering our history and position in society, again this rings true to me.  I admit that until I had my son I didn't consider what the differences may be between myself and a man, but for the last three years I have grappled with them.   I often find myself angry and bitter and conflicted as a woman, mother and artist.  How do we do it?  How do I do it?  How can I move beyond anger at never having enough alone space to create or being provided for financially to make art?  I do not have answers, but despite it all, there is a flicker to create that has not been snuffed.  This flicker is a determined brave naivete,  I am so grateful that my soul is strong enough to respond to the constant devaluation as an artist not by giving up or fighting but instead by acknowledging the abundance of beauty that is freely available to me every moment, as I am: a woman, mother and artist.


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