The Importance of Community and Empowerment for Women Artists

Susan Mumford interviews curator and advocate for women artists, Mashonda Tifrere.

Ahead of this Friday’s panel discussion Gender Bias and The Art World in conjunction with the exhibition UNDERNEATH at the Lawrence Akin Gallery, curator Mashonda Tifrere speaks with panel moderator Susan Mumford, Founder & CEO of the Association of Women Art Dealers (AWAD).

SM: What’s the importance of having the conversation on Gender Bias and the Art World?

MT: This conversation explored in UNDERNEATH is one that I want to travel the world with. All of the artists that are in the top echelon of highest earnings, whether it be in auction or commercial art, are not women. Women are under-represented and considered minorities in the art world and this is a universal issue.

SM: What inspires your interest in exploring the impact that the gender of an artist has on a viewer of art? And what can be done to reveal that such gender-impacted biases are real?

MT: My inspiration comes from my own real life experiences. Being in the music industry taught me a great deal about gender inequality. It feels the exact same in the art world. I’ve been a collector for over a decade and have visited many galleries, fairs and museums and I see this resemblance. A male gallerist told me that female artists just aren’t serious about their work, which made a lot very clear to me. People need to do their research before they buy art. Let’s ask more questions. Inquire with gallerists and curators as to why they don’t show more women. There cannot be change if we aren’t asking the questions that challenge the biased status quo.


SM: As much as the need for addressing bias is established, and however many laws are created to work towards gender equality, what do you suggest that each and every person can do to work towards a gender-balanced society, in which pieces by any artist, regardless of gender, are equally valued and perceived?

MT: The first step forward is sharing information. We need to create networks and events for people to learn about the issues so that they can proactively work towards change. We also need to raise the aspirations of young female artists. We have to empower the youth and provide them with the knowledge they need to expand their dreams.

About Mashonda Tifrere:

She launched ArtLeadHER in March 2016 as a dynamic platform to celebrate and bring awareness to the women creating, curating and thriving in the male-dominated art world. The enterprise provides marketing support, exhibition placement, social media exposure, residencies and mentorship opportunities. By pairing new and underexposed female artists with established contemporaries, they’re given the opportunity to learn, collaborate, and grow in a community of like-minded women. Taken together, ArtLeadHER is ultimately a celebration of women, providing a platform for acknowledgment and appreciation.

Join the conversation on Friday at 7pm. Save your spot here.

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