Panel Discussion:
"Women Artists of Philadelphia"

October 13, 2015

On Oct 13, 2015, the Women in Art Initiative hosted a panel for six female artists of Philadelphia to share their insights about working in the art world, including Kiki Gaffney, Diane Feissel, Hollis Heichemer, Mallory Weston, Leslie Boyd, and Katherine Fraser. These artists had diverse experiences, as reflected in their work, which ranged from printmaking to avant-garde jewelry to portrait paintings. Yet the panel also offered meaningful advice beyond the scope of creating art. By sharing their stories, the women explained the effects of gender disparity in the art world, and the challenges of becoming a full-time or part-time artist. Being an artist is akin to being an entrepreneur, and the idealism of art does not always translate well when trying to make a living from it. However, these artists have succeeded by learning practical business skills, reaching for every opportunity they are presented with, and connecting with the community of fellow artists and gallery owners. They shared some of this wisdom with the audience, who asked questions about their inspiration, work, and challenges. While it is true that men are typically overrepresented in the art world, it is also apparent that art is often about transcending gender identities. Many of the artists expressed their intention to display a human perspective in their art, not necessarily just a female one.

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