April 3, 2013

Collective: The Coven

A throwback to witchcraft, a hat-tip to female artists.

If you don't agree with it, combat it: In an interview with a German publication, Neo-Expressionist painter Georg Baselitz said in a very smug, simple manner, "Women don't paint very well. It's a fact." He then went on to complain about the lack of people at his latest exhibition, which perhaps attests to his painting skills, but that's beside the point. It's still very prevalent, even in 2013, that sexism and what I'd call sheer fear of being bested (or at least challenged) by someone of the opposite sex is running rampant in the art world. But lucky for us, there are artists willing to combat this negativity and naivety with artistic responses that'll leave "goofballs" (we'll stay tame here) like Baselitz quiet.

The Coven is one of these forces; it's an art collective comprised of ten female artists, headed by Luna Dykstra-Santo, that aims to provide a supportive space for women to exhibit their work and grow creatively. In July 2012, Luna and fellow Coven member Laurence Philomene began the collective in response to the number of photographers networking on sites like Flickr and Tumblr for years who, and as a result, get their work out on a massive scale. "I wanted to do something similar," Luna said. "But instead, cater it toward female artists making work in more traditional medias, encouraging artists other than photographers to use the Internet in a similar fashion." Next came the name, that's roots are in just what the icon suggests; it's a throwback to witchcraft, and like witches, members of The Coven work together with remarkable strength.

The work displayed by Coven artists is both diverse and original; the spectrum ranges from photographs, photographs of paintings and sculptures on display, all the way to digital pieces and collage. The Coven creates a space for all themes and points in the creative process, though undoubtedly more so with feminist ideals. A few months ago, Laurence began a series titled "Feminine Ideals," in which a number of men in feminine poses were featured wearing women's clothing and makeup. The series, while not entirely unheard of in terms of subject matter, presents these ideas in an entirely new manner: the pastel colors and baby doll dresses attach meaning to contemporary society (and perhaps state of mind) and what we hold to be "feminine," ultimately challenging the identities we've so carefully constructed. Philomene's series perhaps typifies what The Coven is all about: sure, it's made of women who have strong voices and interesting thoughts, but everyone (of all races, genders, candy-preferences, whatever) can be involved.

Working away, posting new art and getting involved with other organizations, The Coven is on the move. They recently did a site takeover for the zine Girls Get Busy, will be doing a Monday Mix for THE LE SIGH on April 8th, and have even just launched a zine of their own; The Coven (in printed form) is a collection of new work by the collective's artists, exposing new audiences to thought-provoking work. An exhibition in Montreal is even in the works. But as Luna and The Coven push forward, its (and her) emphasis will, in all likelihood, remain the same: "It's vital that women artists work together and support each other in order to make our voices heard."  

Check out The Coven here.

Written by Molly Morris