Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Looking Back

(This post was originally written for Leland Carina's blog)

Why do I look back? Because the context of the environment I now exist in as a women, as a leatherwoman, and as a dyke has a history. A history that is, in the interest of candid full disclosure, older than I am.

Why do I look back? Because as an artist, especially as a female artist, I also believe that there is no going forward without understanding where I am coming from. I cannot create, nor simply exist as the person I am today, without understanding that people have come before me.

Why do I look back? Because it is important to honor the voices, activism, and creativity that has come before me. Let’s be clear: no idea is a new idea, it is simply an idea that has new packaging. And the best way to properly understand and implement an idea is to fully comprehend its history.

I don’t think I would have these foundational feelings about history if I wasn’t a feminist and an artist. As someone who went through the canon of art school, I can safely say that art history is just really goddamn important. And I’m not talking about learning about the art of Ancient Greece--I’m talking about the past twenty to thirty years of art history. Understanding who has created work in a similar medium and voice to you is key to understanding your own context as an artist. It lays a foundation of the how, the who, the when, and the why.

The same goes for our leather history. It’s not necessarily about encasing our histories in amber. It’s not about locking files in a cabinet for years to come, in a temperature-moderated facility. It’s about accessing information, relying on the work others have done before us to do the work we’re doing today, and considering ourselves as part of something bigger than us.

These reasons, and more!, are why 20% of the profits I’m raising for my travel fund this year are going towards the Women’s Leather History Project at the Leather Archives and Museum. I can talk a big talk about history all I want, but it takes funds to preserve that history, and I want to do what I can.

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