#ArtGirlRising: Art As A Statement

Founder Liezel Strauss is not only dedicated to supporting emerging female artists, their equality and appreciation with her ArtGirlRising platform, but is simultaneously building a community of voices. In this interview, she gives an insight into her vision and we introduce three female artists who are part of a particularly attractive project.

Art is not just a creative vision; it also promotes social responsibility. And in doing so, it also promotes values such as inclusion, diversity and equality. Works by women artists have never been as visible on the art market as they are today. This does not necessarily mean, however, that women artists have anywhere near the place they deserve. For example, the Diversity of Artists in Major U.S. Museums research project, which examined data from 18 famous American art museums, shows that 87 percent of artists on display were male and 85 percent white. Women in the arts have been facing gender bias for centuries. Initiatives such as ArtGirlRising, a platform founded by Liezel Strauss, aim to raise awareness of these inequalities and provide a voice for emerging female artists to achieve more and fairer representation in museums, galleries, and auction houses

The cultural commitment shown by the BMW Group over the past five decades has extended far beyond the design of BMW Art Cars by renowned artists. It has expanded its portfolio to include collaborations with renowned musicians like Daniel Barenboim and Diana Damra, as well as young artists such as Samson Young and Leelee Chan, who left their artist studios behind to make the whole world their source of inspiration.

BMW Group has been involved in hundreds of cultural initiatives worldwide for over half a century. In the arts, as well as in music & sound, in architecture and design. The BMW Group’s Cultural Engagement co-initiates partnerships such as BMW Open Work by Frieze, the BMW Welt Jazz Award and the BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors. The BMW Art Journey is another initiative and has been created together with Art Basel to send artists on a creative journey for their research work. In addition, the free “Opera for All” concert series in Berlin, Munich, Moscow and London was launched decades ago.

Ms. Strauss, can you give us some insight into the personal journey that led you to create ArtGirlRising?

I founded ArtGirlRising to highlight the underrepresentation of female artists. ArtGirlRising was born after I saw the #5womenartists campaign by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The T-shirts that we are making with women artists’ names on them will kick the conversation off and ultimately raise awareness of the acute underrepresentation of women artists worldwide.

What challenges and key moments shaped this journey?

One of the really big challenges at first was to get a handle on my anger when I saw the statistics about the percentage of women in the art world. This left me speechless and disheartened. I still find it difficult to comprehend to this day. I’ve been in the art world for nearly two decades, and when I started ArtGirlRising almost four years ago, I wasn’t even aware of these staggering numbers. The pandemic also often left us with our backs against the wall, but we managed to develop other revenue streams and support artists through affordable online courses and workshops on art, the business of art, and women’s advocacy. Our current focus is on partnerships with art museums and art organizations, such as BMW Group Culture, to create broad awareness. ArtGirlRising has become a movement. The printed T-shirts were the starting point, but the goal now is to also create a place where women artists can find advice, opportunities, community, representation, and more.

Have there been moments when you dug your feet in and relied on your strengths?

All the time! I run my organizations and businesses very much from the heart and by intuition. Things don’t always go well financially, but at the end of the day, we’re community-focused. I know there will always be challenges, but I work with incredible people, and together we try to find the most meaningful and sustainable ways and solutions.

Art is always a means of seeing the world through the eyes of a new generation – how equal is this world?

I think the art world is really missing out. Art should be one of the leading forces in imagining a better world and a better future. At the moment though it is not fulfilling this function. When art galleries, museums, art fairs, and auction houses are dominated by white, male artists, there is a huge gap in imagining a better world and future because only a very small cross section of the world is being shown. The new generation has social media and access to resources and information – which although invaluable, primarily only helps with awareness. The new generation often does not have the influence needed to effect change from the top down. We need the new generation to raise awareness, do the research and create the momentum – and then we need partnerships with vision to make the change happen.

How can this change be accomplished?

By researching, providing the data, continuing to raise awareness, and then: act, act, act. We all need to know the numbers. There is simply not enough data available. The art world needs to become more transparent in this regard, both in public art institutions and in the commercial market. We need more people to research and publish the numbers, and then we need ways to communicate the inequality and ultimately use this to bring about change.