Saturday, January 29, 2011

Guest Blogger | Laura Page | Women. And Their Art

Please welcome my dear friend and fellow blogger, Laura Page! She is the author of the lit blog, Literary Legs. My very first guest blogger and I am so excited to introduce you to her! As you will see, she is a terrific writer. Be nice, now - I want her to come back!! *wink*


Hi! My name is Laura Page. I blog over at Literary Legs about the creative process and artistic expression in the lives of women, particularly, and will say a few thing about that platform here in this post. I have had the privilege of knowing Alena, here at “Little Bit of Wonderful,” for many years. Her friendship has meant a lot to me, and so I was thrilled when she offered me the opportunity to guest post here (my first guest post, ever!) in this cozy little corner of the ‘net!

Women. And their Art
Laura Page

In my career as an undergraduate, questions about women’s relationship to art have surfaced repeatedly. I’m a literary studies major, so the question “how are women treated in this text?” is one that comes up a lot, and the more I’ve tried to answer that question within the contexts of various literature, the more complex women’s studies become --the more fascinating, too. I find myself both bewildered and catalyzed by examining the culturally constructed spaces women occupy in our society. And there are no easy answers, I’ve discovered, when it comes interpreting how these spaces are dealt with in art, even when it’s women’s art.

Art comes into the whole feminist thing, for me, because art makes value statements. Some may not agree with me on that, but I say it because I think art is essentially communication. It can make statements. It can convey tolerance or deviance. Even ambivalence. When women do art, they are saying something about the constructs, the assumptions that are made about them and about their place in society. They’re saying stuff about social pecking orders--the traditional roles women have fulfilled and still do, and the sexual politics that have shaped our history.

Those are some of my observations. The above points might encapsulate feminist issues in a nutshell. However, I realize that stuff contained in nutshells can easily become abstractions. I write about women’s’ approach to art as a woman myself, and so the challenge for me, if I’m to be honest, must necessarily have less to do with identifying critical aspects of the women’s studies “discourse,” and more to do with getting outside the classroom to examine my own worldviews and assumptions, external to the theories as such. The challenge for me is to honestly assess my art. To find where I am located within the artistic statements I am making. I have to define the issues for myself. An author whom I love, Ngugi wa Thiongo, a West African writer and critic, sees this self-critical analysis as one step in the process of self-actualization. He calls it “decolonizing the mind.” As women and as artists, then, we must assess our place, not just within social constructs, but within the constructs of our own worldview, as a way to avoid internalizing stereotypes about us.

The impetus behind the discussion of Women’s art is the conflict and the tension that often exists for women who are only very recently emerging from anonymity as they begin to challenge the culture and themselves within that culture. We are told many things about who we are and how we should act. Women who engage in artistic expression are engaged in a conversation, so to speak, about these prescriptions. They either affirm or dismiss them, for themselves individually. The below quotation is from the novel, Mrs. Dalloway, by one of the most dynamic of women artists, Virginia Woolf. It just seems quite the fitting note on which to end this post.

"He thought her beautiful,
believed her impeccably wise;
dreamed of her, wrote poems to her,
which, ignoring the subject,
she corrected in red ink.


  1. Well it seems that there are a lot of firsts today. I do believe that this is my first time reading and commenting on Little Bit of Wonderful. Thank you for this thoughtful blog and I agree that people should examine themselves to ascertain the reasons and beliefs that they hold. ^_^ Thank you Alena and Laura for this blog and I hope to read it often in the future.

  2. Thank you for stopping by, and for commenting, Sylvia! :) I'm glad you stopped by, and I'm sorry I didn't see your comment until today.

  3. I love the quote. Sometimes I feel I treat my husband that way - as an assignment to be corrected. Mostlywhen he's writing unsolicited guest blogs.

  4. Lol :P I keep half expecting Nick to do that here :P


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