As I interviewed artists in Tobago, I immediately noticed a dearth of professional female artists. I was curious as to why there seemed to be far fewer women pursuing art professionally, and why work of women tended to be categorized as craft. Stephanie Pile agreed. Stephanie sees access and connections as part of the problem, something that reflects the island’s socioeconomic structure. Those in positions of authority and with the resources tend to be men who extend support and encouragement to those closest to them, other men. Without the encouragement she tells me, for women interested in art, their work and their identity is often regulated to that of just a hobby.
There is hope, organizations like Women in Art, founded by female Trinidad artists, is working on that issue of visibility – to bring women’s art to the front of the gallery and acknowledge the work as art, not just craft. It’s an interesting question that continues to appear in my interviews.