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Jamian Juliano-Villani Responds

The following is a response to Maura Reilly’s article “Taking the Measure of Sexism: Facts, Figures, and Fixes” about the current statistics of Women in the Art World. Our coverage begins with our Editor’s Letter.

Jamian Juliano-Villani, Apparition of Master, 2015. COURTESY THE ARTIST

Jamian Juliano-Villani, Apparition of Master, 2015.

COURTESY THE ARTIST

Born in 1987, lives in Brooklyn, New York

My experience with sexism in the art world has been validating in a way—almost positive, if you will. If I made the paintings I make as a man…that shit would not fly. It would be more offensive, or more easily dismissed, I think. Calling breasts “tits” and painting scenes of sex and violence is much more easily digested when it’s coming from a woman as opposed to a man. But maybe that’s another construct that creates yet another problem. The beauty is I’m allowed to think like a man and act like a man because I’m a woman, and I find it surprising people find that unassuming.

People don’t take painting as seriously when it’s coming from a woman, or someone of color, or anyone that isn’t a white man. Then things get ghettoized—people overcompensating in a lazy way by having “all women” or “all black” artist shows. It comes off as an apology or a favor instead of being legitimate. That is what highlights my frustration on this topic of sexism: the more we point it out, the longer it continues to be an issue. The other artists you are talking to are historical and I can’t imagine the injustices they’ve witnessed, and I don’t know how well I can relate. But from my point of view, the short time I’ve been here, I just choose to ignore that shit and keep going forward and make it work in my favor.

It also seems like sexism is a huge conversation that, in the art world, is very insular. I sometimes think it’s hypocritical to complain in such a pretentious field where so few people are allowed in. Gender bias? What about education bias? Race bias? Class bias? All the other biases that we project in the art world? Why don’t we talk about the high capitalism we all participate in while shitting on it and maybe be a little more self-aware? You could get a whole family out of debt for the price of a piece of art.

A version of this story originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 60.


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