Sunday, March 19, 2017

Where Are The Women; Mr. Shlain?

Helen Frankenthaler
color field painting

Dear Mr. Shlain,

I am nearing the end of your fascinating book; Art & Physics, Parallel Visions in Space, Time and Light by Leonard Shlain, and I am amazed and appalled. 

In spite of the knowledge and insights I have gleaned from this 437 page historical telescope regarding the prescient visions of artists and the scientific breakthroughs of scientists, I am left in a conundrum...where are the women? 

In my personal view, the advent of the abstract expressionists is one of the most exciting turning points in art. Here we have innovative giant pioneers like Louise Nevelson, Helen Frankenthaler, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner and hundreds more; all silent between your pages.

Only the male voices are heard and recognized. You are obviously a talented and sensitive detective of history, combing through the archeology of innovation and discovery with the precision-like scalpel of your physicians mind, and yet, you are blind to an entire group of contributors. 


This is the reason women are not as visible in the arts and sciences, men like you do not investigate further nor give recognition to these incredible innovators. Therefore, we are not written into the historical fabric. 

The irony, you began this book because your twelve year old daughter inspired it during a visit to the MOMA. How do you explain to her why no women artists, mathematicians, nor scientists are listed in your discoveries or observations? 

Along with the artists above, here are just three visionary scientists left out of your book:

Hypatia; 415 AD, Greek mathmatician, astronomer and philosopher. Head of the Neoplationic school of Alexandria, where she taught philosophy and astronomy.
Marie Curie; 1867-1934, Polish-French physicist, chemist, and pioneer in the theory of radioactivity and X-ray. First and only woman to receive the Nobel Prize, twice. 
Rosalind Franklin; 1920-1958, English chemist and X-ray crystallographer, largely responsible for discovering DNA double helix, which Watson and Crick received the recognition and Nobel Prize in 1962, after stealing her research..

Another 437 pages could be written regarding the contributions of women in all sectors of the arts and sciences. 

It's time our stories were told. It's time we begin to tell them, ourselves. If we leave it up to the men, we will be forever silent and deeply buried between the pages of discovery and history. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Here I am, see me

Tangled Alphabet
Mixed Media

I listened to an interview with abstract painter,  Aida Tomescu

At one point she said, "abstraction is a language, it can never be a style because it's not fixed, it is forever evolving." 

Which reminded me of a conversation I had with another artist who lamented, "abstraction is the last new thing, I don't think there's anything we can do as artists that will be a breakthrough like abstraction."  The paradox, she was right and wrong at the same time.  

As artists we crave to express ourselves different from our peers. As Tomescu states, abstraction will never be fixed, just as we aren't. Since abstraction comes from within, we each can peer over the edge of unlimited possibilities that make up the chambers of our minds.

As we bravely step into the abyss, we manifest the path to our unique language; an abstract alphabet that constitutes our private vocabulary, the foundation which is built through our individual experiences and how we interpret the realities around us. 

Taking these abstract puzzle pieces, we create our inner pictorial maps. Even though each is as different as we are from each other, on a collective subconsciousness we can unravel each other's language, a visceral understanding borne out of our joined humanity.

So when we are courageous enough to express our unique authenticity, we give each other a precious gift;
Here I am, see me.