For decades, the art world had a tendency to believe that black-and-white images were somehow more powerful – more moving, and more artistic as the lack of color nods to the unrealistic construction of the image. Of course, that notion has long since expired, and color has proliferated picture frames, magazines and Instagram feeds. The use of neon hues is no longer seen as an act of rebellion, even within gallery walls. So what does color mean today, now that it’s no longer a subversive opposition to the norm? Humble Arts Foundation Curator Jon Feinstein attempts to answer these questions in “Radical Color,” an exhibition at the Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon.
On the Importance of Teen Girls, Their Art, and the Men who Hate Them
The internet is a many splendored thing. It seems like many of us under the age of 25 have grown up with it faithfully by our sides. In a 2014 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, teens and millennials are considered to be the first generation to be “digitally native”. That is, we are the first generation to not have to adapt to learning these new technologies that are available. We grew up with them. Google just celebrated it’s 14th birthday in January and Facebook is only 11. Web technology is becoming a big staple in making the transition to adulthood as a teen or young adult in today’s society. In an April 2015 study, 92% of teens aged 13-17 reported going online daily, and according to the Pew Research Center Study 81% of millennials aged 18-33 are active daily on Facebook.
Isolation has always been a common teenage experience, but with the internet and widespread use of social media there are new opportunities for marginalized young people to make spaces for ourselves in a world that often tells us there is no room for our voices. That our voices don’t matter, and therefore don’t exist.
It is at this point between isolation and online interaction that we find the certain pocket of Teen Girl Culture that so many of our readers inhabit. According to the Pew Research studies, teen girls (ages 13-17) and young women (ages 18-29) are the most active users of social media sites that are visually oriented and sharing platforms.. This can be seen from the start of the selfie sensation, from online magazines and platforms that focus on the art and opinions of teen girls and young women such as Rookie Mag, Bitchtopia,The Ardorous,The Pulp Zine–online communities that not only wanted to appeal to young women, but were founded by them as well.
For as many young women as there are using the internet to get by or to make art, there are as many (or more) people who love to hate them. Everyone loves mocking Teen Girl Culture. The ‘getting Frappucinos at Starbucks instagramming your dinner feminism as daily living’ culture. The culture of making a Tumblr to document your existence and create voices where there were none. The culture of creating/living loudly and without apology while young and female/femme-identified (and in some cases, while being not white or straight). These are the pitfalls of not being a cisgender male.
The trouble with patriarchy is that it destroys everything. Literally. If a girl feels comfortable enough to make a selfie art series as an homage to Renaissance portraits or a zine of confessional poetry about her life or basically, if a girl decides to share any of herself with the Internet, the patriarchy will step in to ensure some kind of chastising and torment. Our society teaches us and reinforces the idea that women are prey. If they make art, if they self publish/distribute their creations, it’s bait. This is something the world can use against you. It looks like invalidation, like this art isn’t “real” art, like your voice is too whiny/too annoying/not important. It looks like trolling, like being called a “disgusting, fat feminist” on Twitter after your hit poetry video has gone viral. It looks like harassment, like men dismissing your experiences and combatting them with more violence. This is nothing new. Sylvia Plath being called too self-indulgent, Frida Kahlo too ugly to be considered art, Emily Dickinson, Francesca Woodman, The Brontë Sisters, Phyllis Wheatley, Murasaki Shikibu (who wrote what was considered to be the first novel). There is a history of devaluing and dismissing the work of young women that goes far past the social media age. It’s structural. It’s institutional. It’s expected.
Let’s talk more about teenage girls. Let the conversation begin here. Let’s talk about how important they actually are, how young women are constantly pushing to create a space for themselves where there weren’t any to begin with, how much we should always be cultivating and supporting these voices instead of quieting them.
Where Are You Press was founded in Portland, Oregon in 2013. Our founder, Clementine von Radics, writes: “As is often pointed out, when a white man writes of his own life, he is describing the human condition, when anyone else does it, it is “genre-work” or seen as indulgent. We are seeking to change that.” We focus on the voices of young women because it’s necessary; we have been silenced for far too long.
3- Know you get more truth from the artists than from bureaucrats.
4- Recognize that art is a powerful too, a language that can be used to Enlighten, Infrom, a guide to Actions.
5- Create art that Recognizes the Oppression of Others, and considers basic quality of life concerns and basic human rights issues.
6- Create art of social concerns that even a child can understand.
7- The goal should always be the Make the Message Clear.
8- Make an effort to not create political art dealing with social issues just because it’s a cool thing to do.
9- Create art that Challenges the Colonization of the Imagination.
10- Self evaluate ones work, and be open to constructive evaluations from others, be open to making adjustments if you choose to do so and be prepared if necessary to defend and explain what you communicate through your art.
Me quedé en silencio pensando en sus ojos,
Me quedé en silencio pensando en alguien a quien no quería recordar.
Escuché un tenue golpeteo,
Pero pense que había niños jugando a la pelota.
Se hizo más rapido, se hizo más fuerte.
No podia averiguar de donde provenía,
Me asomé a la ventana, cerré la puerta.
Pero ahí estaba el golpeteo,
De pronto me hice conciente- tal vez por primera vez en años-
Que mi corazón podía latir fuerte, e incesantemente,
Cuando pensaba en alguien a quien no quería recordar.
I loves me some adventure time, but the style is so much of what makes it amaaazing–and so doing my own take on it was a daunting task! I’m very schnoz-centric, so I was worried that adding noses would make characters unreadable. I think this Marceline works okay though! <3 her~ She reminds me of a girl I had a huge crush on in high school. I’m too much of a P. Bubblegum myself, so it would never have worked out ;…; She’s cool too tho, right? RIGHT?
I spent three weeks in Mexico around the New Year of 2014, painting murals in Zapatista communities to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of that movement for indigenous autonomy and self-determination. I collaborated with Santiago Mazatl to paint the top mural, in the tiny village of La Union. The lower images are from the community of Moises Gandhi, where I worked with other artists including Mazatl, Emory Douglas (Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party), Favianna Rodriguez, and Caleb Duarte to decorate a Zapatista storefront. Read more about these projects here.