Monthly raw and honest conversations about what it means to be a woman in the arts with amazing and inspiring special guests. Let's get real about living a life in the arts and the multi-faceted roles of being a creative woman.
Today the On Display podcast features Rahima Gambo, an Nigerian photographer and conceptual artist based in Abuja. Rahima went through several career changes before becoming an artist. She initially focused on gender and development studies while attending college in the UK, intending to work in policy making in Nigeria. But after returning home, she realized she wanted a way to communicate her own and other people’s stories more strongly. To fulfill this passion, she pursued a photojournalism degree in New York. In 2014, when 276 girls were kidnapped from a school in Chibok, Nigeria, Rahima found herself called home to document the story. But she again found herself dissatisfied and disillusioned with the process and how the story was sensationalized for a foreign audience. Wanting to convey a deeper, more holistic story about the people she interviewed and their culture, she decided to take a different approach to storytelling.
Telling stories, not just documenting Rahima’s initial project, “Education is Forbidden,” focused on the school girls who continued to attend school despite the kidnappings and conflict around them. Instead of remaining an impartial and objective observer, she found herself becoming an integral part of what was created, collaborating with the girls and mutually influencing each other.
“I think that was the whole point of that project,” she says, “Just to remember something beyond this whole… victimhood/conflict, to revert to this safe space of ‘Okay we know who we are… You from the outside can’t tell us who we are.’”
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Today we welcome special guest Catherine Orer, Business and PR strategist for artists, and founder of The Artist Entrepreneur, which offers resources, training, and community for artists who want to build sustainable businesses and careers. In her role as a coach for artists, she has unique insight to offer into common mindset issues that hold artists back and what skills artists should learn to succeed in their entrepreneurial efforts.
Catherine initially worked in marketing and PR in the corporate world, but eventually decided to switch her focus to art instead. She studied at Christie’s Education in Paris, and then worked in galleries to gain experience—planning to eventually open her own. But after artists started asking her for advice on their marketing and selling efforts, she realized she had a special set of skills to offer.
“I realized how much I loved connecting with artists... and that… all of this experience that I had over my career, I could really put it to use and help people,” she says. “It just all came
About our guest:
Catherine Orer, an award-winning Business & PR Strategist and founder of The Artist Entrepreneur, counsels professional visual artists and creative entrepreneurs who want to build sustainable businesses and careers. She holds a degree in Communications and Public Relations from the University of Québec in Montréal, and completed her education in the business of art at the prestigious auction house, Christie’s, in Paris.together.”
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Oil painter and photographer Chris Aerfeldt joins us to talk about her artistic journey, her sources of inspiration, and finding the self confidence to keep creating even when experiencing self-doubt. Chris focuses on themes of freedom, authenticity, invisibility, and peer pressure. Women figure prominently in her work as larger than life characters, often placed in environments that are seemingly at odds with their activities.
Chris shares how her subject matter is influenced her experience working in the fashion design industry, by older Dutch paintings of women engaged in household chores, and her own background as the daughter of two Estonian refugees. As a result of their experience in refugee camps, her mother was very restrictive, and Chris’s childhood left very little room for self-expression.
“When I was growing up, I felt invisible and squashed,” she says. “Now when I’m painting my women, I want to be seen, I want to feel strong… My paintings are all very large and the women are all larger, much larger than lifesize. So they’re giants, because I feel like… I don’t want you to ignore my women, my women have to be seen.”
From making art to being an artist
Chris started out by doodling in her notebooks at school, often landscapes or other nature scenes that offered a mental escape from her home life. Later, she graduated to making oil paintings on scraps of cardboard in the family garage, but she never considered being an “artist” a viable career choice. Instead, she got a degree in art education.
But after trying and rejecting a number of career paths, she found herself increasingly frustrated and depressed. With the encouragement of her partner, she enrolled in art school.
Working through doubt to self confidence
Despite having made art and working toward being an artist all her life, she still struggles with not overthinking her process and being too self critical. She says that she has to shut out the rest of her imagined audience when she’s working in order to create from an authentic and vulnerable place.
“I think all of us have our self doubts, it’s trying not to let that self doubt rule what we do and rule our lives, because the self doubt can be so overwhelming,” Chris says.
About our guest:
As a nervous and hypersensitive eleven year old, Aerfeldt escaped to her father’s shed and started making oil paintings on scraps of cardboard as a way to be seen and heard, and to calm herself. In 2007, Aerfeldt was awarded the Samstag Scholarship, enabling her to travel to London and complete her Masters in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art. Many of her pieces have been purchased by renowned collectors, including Charles Saatchi, and she has exhibited in the UK, France, Spain and Australia.
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Today the Raw and Radical “On Display” podcast welcomes Angela Fraleigh, an oil painter and installation artist, to discuss the role of feminism and power dynamics in her work, her thoughts on manifesting our own realities, and her interest in uncovering hidden feminist-focused histories. Angela’s work was described by one museum curator as creating “utopic provocations of … counter or oppositional narratives that allow us to imagine different pasts and different futures.” One way she creates these narratives is with large scale paintings that immerse the viewer in her “feminine utopian” vision.
“We’re forced to see intricacies of body language at that kind of scale,” she says. “I’ve elevated these figures … so that they kind of loom over us in a much more kind of powerful way.
The idea that our realities are created from our thoughts is a powerful influence on Angela’s work. She sees the current political climate and events as a manifestation of our underlying thoughts, but also as a powerful opportunity for purging and change, particularly as it relates to her art. “Rather than focusing on the stuff I don’t want, I’m focusing on what I do want. And what I do want are these big utopian feminist societies that are much more nurturing and, not maternal, but … where people feel comfortable and safe to create the world they want to live in,” she says.
Angela is currently focused on the invisible histories of women in the arts. Her recent exhibition at the Edward Hopper House Museum focused on the role of his wife “Jo,” an accomplished painter in her own right but who was ultimately eclipsed by her husband. “What I found interesting is ... she was posing for all these paintings but they were never of ‘her,’ they were always a stand in for a woman,” she says. “So ... this notion of her kind of being seen through, even when she’s being stared at ... I wanted to play with that idea and how that relates to contemporary concerns for women and women artists of today.” Angela also touches on how parenthood has impacted her art practice. She says she’s very lucky that she can afford daycare and that both her mother and her partner are supportive and open to sharing the childcare load, but it still requires pre-planning to the time to create art. “I’ve learned to be really efficient with my time. I don’t overthink things as much because there’s just no time to do that… which is a blessing” she says.
Angela’s advice is that leaning into and supporting one another is incredibly important. She feels that without doing that, we can’t reshape our thought processes and society into a more nurturing environment for our creativity. “I think that the patriarchal structure that we’ve all kind of been seduced by throughout our lives... [there’s] this sense that [it’s] like a ladder that you can climb and that you won’t really be happy until you get to whichever rung you’re at,” she says. “And then you’ll look around and then you’ll want more, and that’s okay! That’s great! But it’s the waiting to be happy part that’s not okay.”
About our guest: Fraleigh was born in Beaufort, SC, and raised in rural New York. She received her BFA in painting from Boston University and her MFA in painting from the Yale University School of Art, then spent two years in Houston as a Core Artist in Residence. Fraleigh is a professor and the department chairperson of the Moravian College art department. She is represented by Inman Gallery in Houston, TX.
Website: http://www.angelafraleigh.com For details and more information, visit our website www.rawradical.com or contact us at email@example.com
Hip hop artist and writer Toni Blackman talks about living without regrets, overcoming fear, and connecting with others through music, meditation, and rhyme.
Today’s podcast features Toni Blackman, who shares some highlights from her career, lessons she’s learned, and how fear, self-confidence, and living without regrets has shaped her life choices and artistic path. She jumps right in by talking about fear, a major obstacle to overcome for any artist, and how it has shown up in her life and music. “This whole belief that you're supposed to be fearless, that stops a lot of people. But there’s a lot that we can get done and complete while fear is still here,” she says. Overcoming that fear, and living her life without regret, is one of Toni’s strongest motivators. As a freshman in college she heard a speaker talking about how no one wants turn 50 years old, and wonder what would be different had they taken “what if” chances throughout their lives. “It resonated with me so deeply that so much of what I do comes from, ‘I’m going to do this ‘cause part of me wants to do it, and instead of overthinking myself out of doing it, I’m just going to do it,’” she says.
Toni also shares how, if her circumstances had been just a little different, she might not have become an artist. Although most of her family members were accomplished athletes, Toni suffered from asthma and allergies, and at times couldn’t even go outside. Since she couldn’t play sports, she began writing poetry instead. With the help of her aunt, who was an English teacher and published author, Toni self-published her first poetry book at the tender age of 8. “It gave me an identity,” she says. “My aunt gave me the gift of writing. She put a pen in my hand.”
Toni is known for her self-confidence and fearlessness, but she says that wasn’t always the case. In fact, she was shy as a child until she began dancing regularly. And although she projected self-confidence, it wasn’t until she had to push herself through a challenging Speech and Debate tournament in college that she finally began to connect with her self-confidence on a deeper level. Since then, she’s made it a career goal to help other people connect with their authentic confidence through workshops, practices, and other activities.
She and Mauren also discuss the upcoming release and inspiration behind Toni’s “Hip Hop meditations,” a project that has its roots in work that Toni was doing in the early 90s, but has finally come to fruition in her “Meditation Mixtape Series,” soon to be released through Independent Ear and the Brooklyn Sound Lab.
Toni offers advice to other creative women, saying that while it is important to do your inner work and heal your hurts, waiting until you’re “done” to start seriously creating is a mistake. “Perfectionism is just a form of fear. Needing anything to be perfect is a form of fear… it’s a disguise for fear,” she says. “For women it’s really important to do what you’re supposed to do. Part of that is committing to healing your wounds so you can enjoy it when it’s completed.”
About our guest: Toni Blackman, a highly respected artist and social entrepreneur, is the first Hip Hop artist selected to work as a Cultural Ambassador with the US Department of State. This visionary artist leads freestyle masterclasses, rap cyphers, has developed innovative approaches to using the cypher as a concept for community building, leadership development, and healing, and is on the working committee for Harry Belafonte’s Sankofa.org. She is also the creator of Freestyle Union Cypher Workshop and Rhyme Like A Girl, for which she was awarded a prestigious Open Society Institute fellowship.
Website https://www.toniblackmanpresents.com Links
Barcelona-based artist and painter Eva Armisén discusses her inspirations, the impact of motherhood on a creative career, and new artistic collaborations.
Today the Raw and Radical podcast welcomes Eva Armisén. Eva is an artist and painter who lives and works in Barcelona, lending her talents to a variety of endeavors, including painting, illustration work, public art installations, advertising, television, film production, and editorial projects.
Eva derives her inspiration from everyday life and mundane situations, trying to capture those small moments of joy and convey those stories and emotions though her work. As a result, her art has a playful, energetic quality that conveys happiness and optimism.
“Most of the things that move me happen in daily life or with the people I have around. So that‘s maybe the reason that.. a lot of my paintings are representing, like... that area of life,” she says. “Sometimes family, sometimes the countryside I have around my studio. But they all talk about emotions.”
Eva also works to convey a lot of positivity through her work, a deliberate choice to counter the negative messaging she feels is very prevalent in today’s media and communications. Through her paintings, she says, she can write her own story and offer a different point of view—changing people’s focuses and making the world a more pleasant place to live.
Another aspect of Eva’s art practice is the balance she maintains between preserving her independence and working with and depending on others, both as a woman and as an artist.
“For me that is really really basic, I would say the most important for me, to keep my independence,” she says. “I think my mom delivered that message really clear to me, that no matter what you do you can do it alone or in a team but try always to be independent, just in case ... In an extreme case I know that I have my own work and it’s my territory, and I can decide what to do and don’t do, you know?”
She and Mauren discuss how this sense of independence has extended to the balance she keeps between being a mother and an artist, as well. Eva says that, although she still sometimes has guilty moments, she never felt like she had to or should have given up her career, and is proud of how her children have turned out. Eva have been involved in numerous collaborations, most recently working on a film and book about the “Haenyeo,” the diving women in the Korean province of Jeju.
She also shares her advice for other creatives and women artists, saying, “I guess if you are a creative person or an artist and if you listen to yourself… that power, it’s inside you. And you have to keep just listening to it, because it will lead you toward—there are a lot of failures that are coming but there are also nice things—and you know that you don’t need anything to create but yourself.”
About our guest:
Eva Armisén focuses on capturing daily life and everydayness as something extraordinary, offering an exuberant, optimistic look at the world through her work. She earned her Fine Arts degree from the University of Barcelona, before entering the Rietveld Akademie in Amsterdam for further training and study. Although primarily a painter and engraver, she collaborates on a wide variety of projects, most recently the book “Mom is a Haenyeo,” about the diving women of Jeju.
Resources mentioned: available on the website's story
Delphine Diallo, Brooklyn-based French and Senegalese artist, discusses “feminine energy,” its influence on her art, and why it’s relevant to our lives today.
In this episode of Raw and Radical, Mauren welcomes Delphine Diallo, who worked in the music industry as a special effects artist, video editor, and graphic designer for several years before moving to New York in 2008 to start a career as an independent artist.
Delphine is particularly drawn to women as subjects, exploring how they relate to and express their feminine vitality and force through her portraiture and collage work. She first became aware of her own feminine energy a decade ago, as it manifested in a strong urge to create artwork. She quickly realized, however, that she couldn’t maintain her creative flow and needed to connect with her feminine force on a deeper level to consistently create meaningful work.
“At the beginning of my career, like, I was not strong enough for my energy,” she says. “Literally! Like my energy was boiling in me, and I was like ‘Oh my god, like, how am I going to deal with this in the long-term!’”
Delphine explains how practicing kung-fu and using Eastern philosophical approaches helped her build self-discipline and understand how energy manifests and flows through the body.
Delphine and Mauren also discuss how the ability to believe in yourself is not passed down through the family or taught in the mainstream educational system. As a result of her unique career path, Delphine has been forced to develop a strong belief in her own power and ability to accomplish her goals. However, she also believes that more and more women are beginning to see that they do not have to give up their dreams, as the established narrative that women cook, clean, and tend to the needs of their masculine partners has begun shifting.
Delphine also shares how she dives deeper into her own creative process by using discomfort as a catalyst for fueling her creative energy, and how she learned that surrounding yourself with community is vital to continued growth, creativity, and success.
She says, “We need—inside of ourselves—to be grateful for having the privilege to be the generation who can change the world. That generation of women who will be together, gather together, and… and be grateful for life itself, waking up the next day in the morning… Success is the togetherness of a community system—which is the vital force of every being extending to taking care of the planet… The healing will come through feminine energy, to be able to finally heal the planet.”
About our guest:
Delphine Diallo is a Brooklyn-based French and Senegalese visual artist and photographer, focused on exploring women’s relationships with their innate, transformative feminine power. She graduated from the Académie Charpentier School of Visual Art in Paris, working in the music industry for several years before moving to New York and launching her career as a solo artist. Through her provocative visuals, Diallo seeks to combine artistry with activism, empowering women, youth, and cultural minorities
Delphine Diallo Website http://www.delphinediallo.com/
Resources mentioned: Adorama: The Podcast | Delphine Diallo: Visual Artist and Photographer
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