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Girls Art Now! summit examines what it means to be a working woman artist today

Written by
Ashley Tibbits

We know we weren’t the only ones who held tight to the quote Meryl Streep shared (via the late Carrie Fisher) at last year’s Golden Globe Awards: “Take your broken heart, make it into art.” Said during a political climate that was (and still is, for many women) at the very least challenging and at most downright terrifying, Streep’s plea reminded us that there’s a place to channel the frustration and fear some of us have as we fight for reproductive rights and against discrimination.

It’s this type of passionate creativity that’s inspired local brand Society6 [Full disclosure: Ashley Tibbits is an occasional contributor to Society6] to organize Girls Art Now!, an all-day event that’s devoted to the discussion of what it means to be a female artist in 2018.

And they’d know: The site shares artists’ work via prints, pillows, duvets and about a dozen other products. Being so connected to a network of working women artists is partly what inspired Society6’s editorial director Nada Alic to organize the affair, which takes place Saturday, June 9 at Hollywood’s Space15Twenty.

Alic teamed up with Sexy Beast, an organization that benefits Planned Parenthood by hosting art-centric events, to coordinate a day of panel discussions that tackle topics including “The Future Is Feminist Art” and “Know Your Worth”; an art show with 50 female-identifying artists represented; and live music and comedy sets by women performers. Expect appearances from the Stories of Women founder Whitney Bell, Unique Markets founder Sonja Rasula and comedians Kate Berlant and Aparna Nancherla, among others. And beyond all that, 100% percent of the ticket sales (buy yours here) will go to Planned Parenthood, as will proceeds from the sale of any art.

We chatted up Alic, who will be hosting the event alongside Society6’s senior content editor Stephanie Dixon, to give a little more intel on how the event came together, what attendees can expect from the inspiring day, as well as her own personal experience of what it means to be a woman making art today.

What first sparked the idea for Girls Art Now?

We'd been seeing a shift in the types of artwork women artists were posting on Society6 in response to some bigger cultural moments that were happening in the last year, and it felt like our community was energized and mobilized to say something with their art. It really started with Nasty Woman and just snowballed from there, where all of a sudden there was a lot of incredible, inspiring women's empowerment and socially-driven content, and we wanted to create a space to talk about it.

How and why did you decide to partner with Sexy Beast?

I first came across Sexy Beast on Instagram around the time of the Women's March and I just reached out to them and said that I wanted to lend my support and work together. I loved the T-shirt collaboration they did with Jenny Holzer and Virgil Abloh, and I loved that they raised money specifically for Planned Parenthood L.A. Planned Parenthood is a service that is so vitally important to the health of so many women and I knew that would really resonate with our community. We always try to integrate some type of community-based, socially-driven element to our events and collabs and the fact that they work specifically with artists made them a natural fit.

How did you go about selecting the various women involved?

It was a collaborative process with Sexy Beast; they're really tapped into a robust creative community in L.A. and so are we, particularly with our L.A.-based artists so that was actually the easy part. I think everyone we asked said yes almost immediately; they were particularly excited that 100% of the proceeds from the event were going directly to Sexy Beast for Planned Parenthood L.A. I'm still in shock that we booked MUNA and Aparna Nancherla for the evening performances. I'm trying to be cool about it but I'm still not over it!

Nada Alic
Photograph: Courtesy Andrea Nakhla

The whole theme for the summit is exploring what being a woman in the arts in 20018 means. What does that mean to you?

As much as I might want to transcend my gender in my writing and the workplace, being a woman informs so much of my worldview and how the world responds to me, so it colors everything. Womanhood for me is so often marked by suffering, whether it's physical pain or the anxiety of walking down a street alone or the hormonal tides I have to weather every three weeks, I always feel like I'm at the mercy of forces outside of my control.

Creating art feels like an antidote to that, it helps me process things and acts as a container for pain so that I can shape it into something more palatable, like humor. I see that in a lot of my friends' work and in the work of Society6 artists, there's a desire to reclaim power by taking something dark or heavy or intimidating and making something soulful or funny or aesthetically beautiful. I think we're seeing that on a macro level with women's issues, so elevating women's work, creating safe spaces for discourse and supporting women-focused organizations feels more urgent and necessary now.

What women artists have been most influential to you personally?

My best friend Andrea Nakhla is a painter and she's inspired me as a human and write;, I love getting to watch her evolve as an artist and hone in on her style over the years. Miranda July was also particularly formative for me as a multidisciplinary artist/writer/director/performance artist, her ability to shape-shift through mediums is so energizing and inspiring. I love the work of Ottessa Moshfegh, I think she's one of the greatest literary voices of our time. As for visual artists, right now I'm into Angela Dalinger, Cristina BanBan, Jill Senft, Miranda Jill Millen, Tallulah Fontaine, Kaye Blegvad, Kristen Liu Wong, BFGF, etc.

What can attendees expect from the event and what would you like them to be able to walk away with?

People can expect a really rad space lined with artwork from 50 women artists from around the world, a massive wall mural by Robin Eisenberg, lots of snacks and drinks and a stacked lineup of inspiring women! They'll walk away with some hot merch, and a re-energized outlook on what it means to be a woman artist, and maybe a few new friends.

Girls Art Now! takes place Saturday, June 9 from 10am to 9pm at Space15Twenty. Tickets cost $25.

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