Ariadne on the Beach: Women in the Arts for a Better World
Thumbtacked to the corkboard above my desk is an image of the ancient Minoan Snake Goddess from the Palace of Knossos. In a full tiered skirt, bare breasted, both arms are raised with each fist wrapped around a wriggling snake.
This goddess was a household deity three thousand years ago, reigning over a paradisiacal Aegean island. Imagine plates of olives, wine flowing from ceramic jugs, and bountiful seafood. We don’t know much about the Minoans, but we do know from the artifacts left behind, they were a contented people, peaceful, not warfaring.
Beaches, seafood, wine, and peace... I keep this ancient Aegean snapshot not as a relic, but as a preamble.
On Friday, November 13, 2015 after dinner I logged into twitter to research trending music hashtags for a current project. I typed #parismusic and then saw #prayforparis. I thought, “What is this?” Both completely surreal, and wholly familiar, I scrolled and followed live the events unfolding just down the A6 from where I live. Accounts pieced together to create a narrative in the 11th arrondissement, on our familiar streets, at our beloved club, and beyond.
My husband and son had been included in plans to go to the Bataclan that night, but those plans, lucky for us, changed. Nothing on twitter, in the media, unwraps the interior mind of the terrorists. It remains baffling, even after it has been explained. In following days, I thought I saw comets falling over our house, until I realized it was the burning exhaust of fighter jets.
The media shows entire populations in transit, spawning medieval witch hunts, pitchforks in Facebook posts. We wring our hands and tweet. Something must be done.
I don’t think any answers are simple, but I do believe at the core we need creative, fresh, visionary leadership, and we need women who are fully integrated into government, business, science and the arts. Gender discrimination is at the root of many burdens women face, from poverty and abuse to glass ceilings. The best litmus tests for a society’s level of development, is to observe the treatment of women. How well are we doing here? The absence of women as
leaders negates the fuel and vision of one half of our population, as we limp from one catastrophe to the next.
Supporting women in the arts is the most optimistic action for a safer, visionary, balanced and productive global community. This means more career choices, visibility and funding for women in the arts, and it also means allowing fully integrated creative women to respond to the state of the world, to redirect the global backward dialing of history, and to change dialogue that spurs action toward something better for everyone. It is time to reassign those we identify as powerful.
Women are strong, not as an anomaly, or in magnificent cases, but as a general rule. Creative women must be supported, not sidelined in order for society to move progressively into an enlightened, globally sound 21st century.
Fine arts, music, dance, theater, literature, etc., is a mirror and a megaphone. Art speaks for us, at us, and changes us. It is a potential player in the shift we need to make to arrive in a better 22nd century. Women who make art, who speak up and out, who envision, remap, and create should be abundantly present. Supporting women and creativity is the new paradigm that will shift the wartime theater to a different stage.
This is not man’s only darkest hour. It’s one of many, when life’s core pleasures once again seem trite in the face of the mounting decibel level of jets, bombs, aggressions, war cries. The last century has been in constant shipwreck, crashing against the rocks, rolling back out, and crashing again. I am hanging on optimistically, especially if more of us can take ownership of the vision and voice of our global community. I keep looking at the Snake Goddess over my
computer. I’m not just against war and inequality for women. I’m for the Snake Goddess.
Ariadne on the beach. Smartphone, laptop and sketchbook in hand, she is relaxed, powerful and fully engaged in her important work --the next big thing.
MUSEfest Co-founder and producer & performing artist.