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Cult Sisters 5

FEMINIST ART - The Cult Sisters 5 may not be the Group of Seven, if anything they're the furthest from the long dead Canadian group of artists. The five artists are:

J.M. Culver
Kara Hendershot
Louisa Greenstock
Gina Louise
Erin Sayer

What binds them together is they're all female and proud of it... and they've opened their own gallery, the Cult Status Gallery in Minneapolis. In 2009 Sayer met Hendershot as she was painting “this awesome portrait of Conan O’Brien on the wall.” The rest of the group met through Facebook.

“We are five emerging female artists, and our work makes a strong statement,” says Culver. “I think that’s what connects us all together.”

“We’ve done like everything through Facebook,” admits Sayers.

“You wouldn’t necessarily look at our work and say, 'Oh, a woman did that,'” explains Culver about their conflicting artistic styles. Culver dredges up childhood memories using charcoal/acrylics, Louise uses mixed media and poetry, Sayer and Greenstock's works drip with rock star sexuality... some of its rather unlady-like.

“Maybe it’s because we don’t draw vaginas and flowers,” laughs Sayer. “The society is still a little patriarchal,” she says. “I think people for some reason still trust men more.”

Their new gallery will be focused on young artists, but there will be healthy dose of art by both genders.

Kate-Christine Miller

FEMINIST ART - Feminist art is making a comeback, so says Kate-Christine Miller.

The 25-year-old multi-media artist and University of Guelph student is one of the organizers of Ladyfest Toronto, an annual feminist festival.

According to Kate-Christine Miller there’s long been a stigma around feminist art (both in universities and in art world in general), despite the success of high-profile feminist artists like Allyson Mitchell and Shary Boyle. Miller discovered her professors weren't that interested in feminist art. (She should have tried York University in Toronto instead, where there is an abundance of professors who enjoy the topic and a whole 6-credit class on feminist art.)

“You could tell that the professors had seen the same 20-year-old girls making the same thing over and over again, but that’s because we hadn’t learned about it,” explains Miller. “It was really hard to reflect on this giant body of feminist work and contribute something new because we thought we were the first person ever to think of it.”

According to Miller however feminism is a growing phenomenon in Canada's art galleries. There are more feminist artists at The Power Plant (a contemporary gallery in Toronto), and a recent issue of the Toronto-based arts quarterly, C Magazine, was devoted entirely to feminist art.

As an artist herself Miller explores the history of feminist art, but doesn't restrict herself even if 'its been done before'. She grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario, and her parents shared the duties of parenting and domestic life. “The idea of gender equality was very much a part of my life,” she says.

She also contributed to the book "Saturday Night: Untold Stories of Sexual Assault", an anthology of anonymous stories of women. Recently Miller started a new job as the administrator for the Association for Women’s Rights in Development in Toronto.

Miller says she is worried “about the hysteria over young girls everywhere in the world.”

“It’s just ultimately setting them up for failure to teach people not to stand up for themselves, and that they are just victims of some sort of hyper-sexual machine,” she says. “I don’t think that freaking out about young girls is helping them.”

Girls today need to be reassured their own decisions are the right ones and only they can determine what is best for themselves, believes Miller.

(We were unable to display Miller's art on here, which is mostly in video and textile.)
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