A recent exhibition from SaveArtSpace opened in June featuring the work of 10 female-identifying artists. The title of the show? The Future Is Female. While I personally view the future as non-binary, the ethos of the show remains important — respecting femininity and masculinity within every single person. Another unconventional aspect of the show? The works are shown on billboards and advertising spaces in NYC. One more amazing thing about The Future Is Female? It was curated by Meryl Meisler, Marie Tomanova, Alyse Archer-Coité, Sandra Hong, Brittany Natale to expand upon societies perceptions of womanhood and femininity. I had the pleasure of digitally interviewing Meryl Meisler about the show and the artists currently represented across New York City.
Sarah Sickles for Pink Things: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Meryl Meisler, Co-Curator of The Future is Female: I’m a photographic based artist. Upon retiring from the NYC public school system after a 3-decade career, I began releasing large bodies of previously unseen work. My monographs, A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick and Purgatory & Paradise SASSY ‘70s Suburbia & The City, have received international acclaim. I live and work in New York City and Woodstock, NY with my life partner Patricia O’Brien, continuing a photographic memoir that began in 1973 – a uniquely American story, sweet and sassy with a pinch of mystery.
Pink Things: How did you come to curate this show?
Meryl Meisler: I was introduced to #SaveArtSpace (SAS) by The Living Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn. SAS was looking for Bushwick-based artists for their first public art murals in conjunction with Bushwick Open Studios 2015 and was thrilled that my work was amongst those chosen. It was a positive life and career changing experience. A few months ago I saw Travis Rix and Justin Aversano of SAS and they told me about the idea for The Future Is Female and asked if I’d be interested in volunteering to be one of the curators. Of course I said yes. It is my honor to do a “turn key” good thing for SAS and other artists. We have to help one another open doors and windows of opportunity.
Pink Things: What does “The Future is Female” mean to you?
Meryl Meisler: There is a history/herstory behind the slogan “The Future is Female”.
Every human being needs to respect the female spirit within themselves and others. Each of us have a responsibility to work together, learn, teach, and honor Mother Earth and its sentient beings — from ancient times to present and future generations.
Pink Things: What did you feel your role as curator of this exhibition meant in the selection of these works?
Meryl Meisler: I was mindful that the intended audience of a billboard is unexpected passersby in public settings. Each image needed to be visually powerful, and inspire the viewer to look, think, and feel in a split second.
Pink Things: What did you bring with you when selecting the work for the show? How do you think your personal identities and experiences influenced the selection of the artwork? Did it?
Meryl Meisler: I have many identities that shaped my selection of work for the show (and everything I do in life). As a person who has lived and worked in NYC since 1975, I am aware of the speed and pace of city life and how visually stimulating I find the city. I’ve also had my own public artwork in heavily trafficked areas such as Grand Central Terminal and throughout the NYC subway system. A passerby could be rushing to or from work, experiencing a great day, or suffering from a tragedy. Personally, I wanted the images to be uplifting, to subliminally help those who are struggling with a crisis large or small. As a feminist and educator, I wanted the work to be inclusive and allow as many people as possible to see a part of themselves and the human experience in art.
Pink Things: Do you have a favorite piece/body of work in the show? What is it?
Meryl Meisler: I kept on being drawn back to what appeared to be a small drawing of girl dancing or perhaps leaping forward with joy. It expressed pure joy and adventure to me.
Pink Things: What does pink mean to you?
Meryl Meisler: Pink is a beautiful hue that symbolizes many things: freshness, tenderness, innocence, sensuality, subtlety and yes, sweetness.
Pink Things: What’s next for you specifically?
Meryl Meisler: I’m preparing work for several September group exhibits as well my next solo show SASSY CIRCUS, which will open at Bizarre Bushwick in conjunction with Bushwick Open Studios 2017. I’m also diving through my archive and editing photos for what will be my next book, Scintillating ‘70s Sense & Sensibility.