Essay on A Feminist Art Critic, Arlene Raven

Essay on A Feminist Art Critic, Arlene Raven

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In the section, Words of Honor: Contributions of a Feminist Art Critic, Arlene Raven outlines the events in her life that have led her to be an art critic for artists who were not as “bankable” as other artists. In this excerpt, she discusses how her experiences of being raped exposed her to a cruel reality about the oppression women faced despite equal education acquirement. Consequently, she increasingly got more involved in the feminist/political work, creating iconic associations like the Women’s Building. Motivated by the explosion of the feminist movement in America, she created this institution to encourage activities in creating expressive bodies of art. It also called for the protest against major institutions that tends to exclude women artists (source). Around the 1980s, after the closure of the Women’s building, she eventually became a columnist for The Village Voice newspaper company. During her employment there, she has written several critiques of artists like Sandy Skoglund, Audrey Flack, etc. in which she often discusses the generalized idea of their work, the background of the artists, and the events that occurred during the creation of their art. She primarily focuses on women artists because of the greater obstacles they face in attempting to gain higher status in the art world over their male counterparts. Her main subject of interest appears to be largely about the unconventional ideas behind their works of art.
Arlene Raven tends to focus more on ‘unconventional’ topics to indicate the successes of an art. For example, in her critique of Audrey Flack’s, Pantheon of Female Deities, she witnessed a distinctive standard on how women—specifically goddesses—were being portrayed in this exhibit. Goddesses are tra...


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...rian woman allowed her unique opportunities to consider subjects that were unconventional at the time. She provides an outline about the art she is critiquing to her viewers, and then invites them to come up with a more detailed interpretations of the art on their own. She is primarily targeting viewers who do not possess an extensive art history or criticism background, and is hoping that her writings will assist people to develop the capability to appreciate or critically review works. She evaluates the success of both individual pieces of art and exhibitions by their idiosyncratic ideas about history, culture, and traditions. Essentially, Arlene Raven seeks to educate her spectators in how various art “is in part about the world in which it emerged” (source). Lastly, she aims to write about artists who would otherwise would not be given much visibility (source).

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