When photographer Heather Saitz decided to co-curate a show for the annual Exposure Photography Festival, she asked herself one question: What is Calgary’s photography community missing?
Last month, on Feb. 8, a women-led photography exhibition titled, “The Female Lens” was born.
The exhibition featured nine women artists and was held in the female-run Christine Klassen Gallery, providing a platform for female photographers in the male-dominated industry of photography. Each piece of art on display showcases the theme of women’s empowerment.
From eerie fairytale photos in Diana Thorneycroft’s “Black Forest” to imitations of her mother in Vivek Shraya’s “Trisha”, The Female Lens demonstrates that the women’s perspectives are extremely distinct.
“We’re having this conversation right now in the media and online so I think it’s important to bring it to the forefront now,” says Saitz about gender roles, feminism and the Me Too movement.
The Female Lens is opening up a space for the topic of womanhood to be captured and celebrated. The exhibition showcases art that deals with themes of feminism, beauty standards, and social issues in their work.
Haley Eyre, the youngest artist featured in the exhibition, aims to bring important themes to light through her work.
“[For women], there’s a lot of beauty standards and they’re all pretty homogenous. I think that talking about these topics and bringing them to attention is very important, as well as feminism and other social issues,” says Eyre.
Lori Andrews, on the other hand, uses photography mainly to empower herself and others. Self-portraits are her specialty, even when they require her standing in the middle of frozen Lake Louise in the winter wearing a Superwoman costume.
“I am a feminist. I am a person who believes in social responsibility and inclusiveness and I want to portray that. I’m also a woman who believes that we have full ownership over our bodies,” says Andrews.
This sense of women’s empowerment is permeating the art industry. For many, The Female Lens acts as a visual representation of how art and feminism go hand-in-hand.
- By Sarah Green and Karina Zapata