It’s time to get gynocentric! The arts have traditionally been a very male-dominated industry, so we’re hoping to feature some of Canada’s influential, badass female artists over the next few months. If you would like to be featured, send us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week I stumbled upon wonderful Montreal-based painter and illustrator Kirsten McCrea who has been working on a very exciting project. Titled Hot Topic, the series depicts 60 activists, musicians, artists and authors that American electro clash band Le Tigre paid tribute to in their 1999 song of the same name. Conceptually reminiscent of Judy Chicago’s ‘The Dinner Party’, Kirsten’s portraits include infamous figures Yoko Ono, Angela Davis, Joan Jett, Gertrude Stein and Aretha Franklin, but those are not the only heroes of feminism that Kirsten looks to glorify. However, she also looks to bring focus to subversive figures queer performer Vaginal Crème Davis, prolific female rapper Mia X and transgender jazz artist Billy Tipton as well as many other inspiring individuals. The unique nature of each image highlights both the diversity of her subjects and her breadth of talent for depiction.
Kirsten identifies with each person she depicts as heroes of feminism and wanted to immortalize them through portraiture. While researching her project, she struggled with finding information on some of the women of Hot Topic and try as she might, there were cases where she could not even find an image to reference. Because of this, several portraits were left blank. She finds portraiture to be problematic because of who ends up being depicted and what stories are remembered and passed down. Kirsten writes in her online artists statement that “in a world that celebrates manufactured pop stars but forgets the names of suffragists, I wanted to find a way to solidify the memory of the underground superstars whose creativity and ideas have made such a difference to feminists of my generation.” Hot Topic as a series has enabled Kirsten to create memorial her heroes that is both beautiful and positive without having to engage in bringing attention to the mainstream culture she looks to avoid.
This month, Kirsten is having a residency at La Centrale Gallery Powerhouse where she will be displaying her Hot Topic series and exploring the strengths and weaknesses she has found therein. The residency runs from May 23rd through til June 7th and she invites all those who are interested in critiquing or collaborating to be in touch with her through her site. Future projects include extending the series with Hot Topic Redux, a follow up project that she has received support from the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec.
All 60 portraits can be viewed on the Hot Topic site. If you have a feminist icon you would like Kirsten to depict, you can also submit them there. She also has a diverse feed of the previous nominations she has received here.