The Guerilla Girls’ Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art, “Introduction and Conclusion” [from The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader, Amelia Jones, ed., pp. 349-353]
I greatly appreciated the Guerilla Girls recognition of the false assumption that a “clear line of achievement” exists in art history and the art world tendency to reduce “centuries of artistic output,” to the accomplishments of a few, usually white, usually male artists. For museums especially this has struck me not only disingenuous, but as a contributing factor to the severe lack of women and minorities who feel comfortable and confident enough to make an attempt at breaking into the art world themselves. Galleries and museums have always had an easy time excluding both these groups from their showcases of great art in America, but, from experience I know that seeing oneself represented in the art world, or really any profession greatly reduces the chance that one will feel a sense of pre-emptive inadequacy before even considering pursuing art as a career choice. In addition normalizing the presence of voices form outside the traditional art canon allows for more innovation and creative exploration within the art world. I have always had a problem with the art scene’s self containment and insistence on looking to the past to the point of making pieces whose only function lies in replicating what has already been done. If the scene made more of an effort to accept contributions from those that have been marginalized in the past, it could gain a fresh perspective set firmly in the present and looking towards the future, that would reinvigorate it with new ideas and well as make art in general more accesible to the public. Taking a strong stance against the overwhelming preference for white male artist would not only fulfill a much needed social obligation, but would set the art world on the path towards innovation and gradually make it culturally relevant again.