“A lot of women artists get lost along the way.”
Corrias, whose gallery turns 10 years old next year, said part of the problem was structural, in that the crucial stage for an artist’s career tends to coincide with the time when women have children.
“Artists tend to start becoming successful in their late twenties and thirties, and it’s also the time when women have children,” Corrias said. “It’s very hard if you’re a young artist who’s beginning to make a way for yourself to then suddenly get pregnant and have to deal with childcare. It’s all about money, really, and whether you can afford the childcare or not. So that’s why a lot of women artists get lost along the way.” She noted that female dealers also tend to open their galleries in their thirties and forties, once the most demanding years of childrearing are behind them.
(Interestingly, one study found that female artists don’t
tend to experience the wage loss upon motherhood, relative to men, that is a major factor of the overall gender pay gap and has been called by sociologist Michelle Budig calls “the motherhood penalty
.” That said, women working in the arts still earn less than men, according to research
from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project at Indiana University.)
“Being an artist is not something where you can just go on maternity leave…[artists who are women] can take a break, but nobody will make their work for them,” said Corrias, whose 25-strong roster is 56% female. “You can work for a company and go on maternity leave, and someone will cover for you.”
Corrias said as a dealer (and as a parent herself), she accepts and encourages her artists to become parents, with the understanding that it’s a temporary period in what hopefully should be a long and fruitful career path that she and her artists are building together.
“With the artists that I show who are women, I’m as encouraging as I possibly can be, and I understand they’ll be taking a break, and then they’ll be coming back,” she said. She recalled a (perhaps apocryphal) story she heard, about a major London dealer who told women he represented, “If you have children, I’m going to drop you.” It’s hard to imagine his male artists received the same warning, even though men become parents at roughly the same rate as women (science!).
Still, many artists who are women and parents told Artsy last year that motherhood, while a logistical challenge that any working parent must navigate, has not impacted their career