Yet I continue to believe, as I always have, that art in all its forms is crucial to our survival as sensitive, complex, caring human beings.
My dear friend Anne Stewart Anderson’s recent award, and her description of the way she sees her work, proves that there is at least one other woman who believes that we artists and writers are even more important than usual, in this time of acute danger.
First, on the personal level: one of the great saving graces of the past thirty years has been the permission given in workshops to women to write their stories.
Inevitably, the old-time literary establishment began to kick up a fuss. Nearly all the published memoirs were by women, at the beginning of this movement, as nearly all the attendees at writing workshops were women. But the critics’ attempt to disqualify journal and memoir as somehow not “serious” went nowhere. We simply have too many readers to be dismissed or ignored.
Then, expanding from the personal to the general, we have the strong coalitions of women forming around organizations like the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, sure to be the goal of pilgrimages during the Million Women March next January 21. Started by an individual woman with her largesse and her collection, it has expanded in four decades to include lively state branches—the one here in Santa Fe is especially vigorous—and a varied and fascinating collection as well as lectures, docent tours, and books.
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum here in Santa Fe is another proof of the power of our enduring presence as artists, as well as the current exhibit, filling the entire Guggenheim Museum in New York City, of one hundred paintings by Agnes Martin.
We can’t know how many sorrowing women looked, last week, at a painting by a woman or read a poem by a woman and felt at least a little comforted. But the hope is there, and the courageous endurance. We have power, and we have vision, and we will prevail.