Girls Create Art is a New York based initiative that was established in October of 2018 with the mission to provide women with an opportunity to achieve a stronger presence in the art world by providing free gallery space for them to showcase their work.
Curator Erica Freeman founded the organization but is not herself an artist. Working as an Academic Coordinator at an English language school, curating is a sideline that Erica is passionate about.
Erica recently discussed the initiative via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you first get interested in art and what style of work most appeals to you?
Erica Freeman (EF): I first became interested in art at college. During my undergraduate year, I decided to do a double major of photography and English. I enjoyed photography a great deal but didn’t think I was very good at it, so I gave it up and chose to pursue English only. I thought it would be best if I appreciated art from afar. As far as a particular style of art that appeals to me most, I can’t pinpoint anything specific. It really boils down to whatever catches my eye. I’m attracted to work that makes me feel something and that could be anything from ice cream cones to drag queens.
MM: Why did you decide to establish Girls Create Art (GCA) and how did you initially get the initiative off the ground?
EF: An initiative like Girls Create Art was always something I wanted to do, but it took me a while to figure out how to make it happen. Since I wasn’t interested in becoming an artist, I figured I could help other artists somehow reach their goals. It also helps that I’ve worked in New York City for the last fifteen years and have always frequented the galleries and museums. Right now, I work very close to Chelsea and visit the galleries two to three times a week. Upon visiting the galleries regularly, I noticed that there were few female artists being given solo exhibitions. I know this has been an ongoing thing, so I decided that my initiative would focus on more exposure for female artists.
The first thing I did was create a Facebook page to see if people would be interested in an initiative like this. After people started showing interest, I booked a space and posted an open call for female artists on a few sites. I received 11 proposals the first time around, which was super exciting for me. My plan is to show 4 out of those 11 artists. The best part about receiving those proposals was that they were from women of different backgrounds, ages, and styles. I showed my first artist on July 27, 2019 at the Living Gallery Outpost in the East Village.
MM: How do you find venues for your exhibitions?
EF: I have three go to sites: Peerspace, This Open Space, and The Storefront. They all have a great selection of spaces in every borough, in every size, and at every price point.
MM: You have stated that your ultimate goal is securing a gallery space, so how is that search going?
EF: I’m taking my time with it. I’m looking to lease something in the next two years or so. I want to make sure that I find the perfect space for the types of artists I want to show. My perfect space would be somewhere in the East Village and no more than 400 sq. ft. It’s a space I want to grow old in, so it has to be just right.
MM: What kinds of solo shows will you promote via a gallery space that you own and operate?
EF: I’m hoping to promote the same kinds of shows in my own gallery space that I’m promoting now. I want to show women of different backgrounds, ages, styles, abilities, etc. I want each show to be completely different.
MM: What do you think the art world could do to enable more artists to showcase their work?
EF: That’s a tough question. I think it’s up to the institutions to be more open to diverse groups of artists, particularly women artists and artists of color. The reason I chose to do my own thing is because I don’t believe I have the same mindset. Art institutions have very specific goals for who they want to show, who they want to sell certain pieces to, and what kind of art they want to exhibit in their galleries and museums. I remember when I first started this initiative. Someone’s advice to me was to show the most cutting-edge art. I don’t know what that means. I am interested in showing what I like and having events like the Bring Your Own Art show so I can get a different perspective and maybe fall in love with a style of art that never appealed to me before.
MM: What are your ultimate curatorial goals and is there anything else that you would like to talk about?
EF: My main goal is to get my own space within the next two years, hold monthly shows for the female artists whose work I love, and even the playing field in the art world. As I hone in on my curatorial skills, I hope to remain unbiased and always exhibit the work I love as opposed to what I think will be the most popular.
* * * * * *