We have 80 percent female students at the School of Visual Arts.
But in the real world, we have 70 to 80 percent male artists in galleries and museums.
These statistics, cited in a new documentary film, sound alarmingly like the numbers released by organizations that track the presence of women in the highest echelons of professions like law, journalism, engineering or finance. Yet, outside the art world, few people talk about the difficulties that female artists face when rising up in the ranks. As in these other fields, experts say the reason there are fewer women at the top is largely because of the difficulties in establishing or maintaining a careers while also raising children.
The new film, “Who Does She Think She Is?,” provides a nuanced look at the sacrifices and challenges facing female artists who become mothers. The stories of the diverse artists profiled in the film mirror those of many professional women — they struggle with periods of not making art; they watch their marriages fail when their commitment to their artistic talent doesn’t mesh with a partner’s vision of a wife; they do work they don’t really want to do to stay afloat financially. The film will leave you wondering whether art schools will follow the lead of business schools in offering on-ramping programs for alumnae working to combine raising families with making art. Obviously, words can only do so much when talking about art. So have a look at the film’s trailer.
The film was directed by Pamela Tanner Boll, an artist, filmmaker and activist, who was the co-executive producer of “Born Into Brothels,” and features commentary from smart thinkers like Courtney Martin, who visited Shifting Careers earlier this year for an intergenerational conversation about feminismwith Deborah Siegel.