Creative Women of New York City

Working and pressing hard for equality, women have always been pushed outside the limelight in all areas of life. The gender inequality is something that has motivated women to advance even further than their ancestors. Rooted in New York City, here are some female artists who understand and embrace their feminine energy, using their creativity as platforms for all women. Here are some pieces of their thoughts, beliefs, and emotions that fuel their work.

KARA YANCEY

IG: @yng_kara


Who are you? What do you do? How do you work? Tell us about yourself.

Hi, I’m Kara. I am an artist. I’ve always been an artist. I am so in love with watercolor and all things ink. I also spend time in digital arts and photography. I’m spontaneous. It’s emotional and passionate with a mix of curiosity. The scale I work is normally large. I enjoy using my whole body to create. Reaching high and low. Working slow fast close and far. It’s all very exciting and the engagement I need to stay involved in a work from start to finish. I don’t do too much sketching. I prefer to work it out in my head for a while and just dive in. I trust the mistakes. I don’t go into any work of art or project without expecting to learn something every step of the way. I don’t want to be bossy to any medium.

When you think of women as artists, what do you envision?

When I think artist I just immediately think woman. Mother Nature is my favorite artist. Creation is inherently feminine. I don’t think that’s separate from the overwhelming patriarchy in this world either. It’s like capturing calypso because you want to tame and beat her. Artist to me means creation. I see femininity in creation, man or woman.

What inspires you as a woman in the art field? Do these inspirations come out in your work and what you do every day? How so?

They most definitely inspire my work. Heartbreak and frustration come out heavily in my work. There are many things I don’t find myself discussing easily; personal thing and things that happen every day. My art directly reflects emotional distress that I deal with within myself on a personal level and with peers, lovers, family, friends and even social dispositions. Sexism totally inspires me especially in fine art. Men have laid a certain history out that writes us out or pushes us out of the way. I’m not with that and I refuse to apologize or compromise on the importance of correcting and laying out new his(her)story. When it comes to my photography, I work with a lot of women much like in my drawings. I feel like the word “muse” has been used to downplay a partnership between photos and their subjects. I’d like to restore that word. Photography is a true collaboration, objectification can definitely get in the way.

Do you feel like art can change the future?

Art can change the future. Art influences everything. Art records the past. It’s history and lineage. Look at political propaganda and how it has influenced major modern world decisions. We look back to leaders and events to make moves in relation to what has already happened through art. Literature, fine art, digital art it all sets a certain range of perspectives.

Has your work changed your perspective on anything in life? Or have life and your perspectives changed your work?

My work, especially the large watercolor I’ve taken up, has shown me to listen to anything I engage in. There are always beautiful secrets and the artist must not forgot that it’s also an audience member to what’s going on. The conversations and lessons we learn while creating work are the most beautiful secrets and we’re lucky to shut our mouths and trust that our work is trying to speak to us. We’re not just bossy directors with a message to spread. It definitely leaks into photography as well. I just like to listen to people and make them feel comfortable and catch them in that comfort. They teach me.

ELYSE FOX

IG: @elyse.fox

Who are you? What do you do? How do you work? Tell us about yourself.

Hey, I’m Elyse Fox and I’m an artist. I’m a filmmaker/and editor from NYC. When I work, I go into hiding and tune out everything in my life. I cut out all social media and unnecessary social events. It’s probably not the healthiest process, but it works for now.

What inspires you as a woman in the art field? Do these inspirations come out in your work and what you do every day? How so?

I love the camaraderie that I share with other women within the art world. When I began making films full time, I received some subtle shade from men. Women have always been supportive and open. My brand ProducedByGirls is dedicated to highlighting the stories of female artists from all over the world.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face artistically? Do you ever look forward to challenges? What kind do you expect to come as you progress?

I think I put a lot of pressure on myself which causes unnecessary anxiety. I think drafting a business plan, creating, funding, and organizing all of my projects was the biggest challenge thus far. I love a good challenge. Easy is boring. I think the biggest challenge during my progression will be advancement. I working to build a creative agency and it’s a lot of work.

What are some things female artists need to work on collectively for them to continue to move forward?

We need to continue to build our own platforms and show content that’s represents women in a positive light. Future generations need us.

Where do you feel like your art is going? Do you have set goals and plans for this upcoming year?

I think my art has become a beast of its own. What began as a simple concept to film no budget documentaries of female artists in LA has blossomed into its own little community. There are many plans in the budding stages. Stay tuned for more events and tangible creations.

AKUA SHABAKA

IG: @shabakaaa


Who are you? What do you do? How do you work? Tell us about yourself.

My name is Akua Shabaka. I’m a black girl, person of color, and melaninated being. I’m a designer, writer, and photographer. I’m a co-owner (with my mother) of my emerging lifestyle brand House of Aama that I started 3 years ago. Our mission is to create a sanctuary for creativity through cultural expression including what we offer now, clothing, as well as various other mediums. I work by listening to a lot of music and gaining inspiration from Black/African culture!

What background do you come from? What is your culture’s perspective on women? Did or does that affect your work?

My mother is a lawyer with family roots in the south; hoodoo vodou Louisiana to be specific and my father is an avant-garde musician from Cuba and Jamaica. I grew up in a very African culture driven household, especially with our traditions and beliefs. Growing up as a woman in my culture, I never felt subjected although traditionally in Southern and Caribbean culture, there tends to be different roles. So of course I saw “women in the kitchen and men sitting waiting for their meal.” However, in Caribbean culture the men are in the kitchen as well; so there is balance. Also, primarily living with my mother, I grew up seeing a woman as the breadwinner and also performing the mothering, loving duties. Both of my parents always being self-employed, I knew for a fact, I never wanted to work for someone else and I always was motivated to be an entrepreneur. Looking up to my parents, I knew it was possible.

What inspires you as a woman in the art field? Do these inspirations come out in your work and what you do every day? How so?

I feel as women artists, we feel we have to work 10x harder than men. Even though we are predominately in the art schools and have the degrees, there’s a disconnect with our actual representation. This alone inspires me to keep pushing forward. However, especially in my generation, there are many young female groups and movements that are created by us for us. The most inspiring to me, is to see women be able to hold up their own without any male help and prove we can coexist or take over any platform/medium.

What pushed you to create throughout your life? Have you ever felt or been discouraged as a woman while doing so? If so, how did you counteract it? If not, what do you think kept you from being discouraged?

I was always encouraged to create my own lane and learn trades and skills. Growing up with both of my parents being self employed, I simply knew no different. I wanted to be my own boss. The arts and music were always apart of my upbringing and my parents instilled in me the importance of having some sort of trade. My mother in particular was a huge role model for me to never be discouraged, even when things seemed tough, like her favorite saying “we gonna push through.”

What are some things female artists need to work on collectively for them to continue to move forward?

As a female artist we’re always conditioned to think that it’s necessary for us to compete with one another, as well as judging and comparing ourselves to each other. Now with the huge rise of female artists and us creating a stance on society in a whole new way, we should really work on uplifting our sisters as well. We should look at each other not as competition but as equals with various abilities. Each one of us has something different to offer!

ANASTASIA GENICOFF

IG: @stazidazi


Who are you? What do you do? How do you work? Tell us about yourself.

I am a person filled with love. I am a light being. My name is Anastasia Genicoff and I don’t limit myself when it comes to art. I am a model, singer, and actress primarily, but I do dabble in other art forms such as jewelry making. I believe my main purpose in life is to spread love. When I’m feeling inspired, I work so quickly. I work best when I’m feeling intense emotion, specifically sadness. I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety throughout my life and when I’m going through my moments, I try and channel it into something greater. I also prefer to work alone. I really enjoy my peace and personal space, so that’s the kind of environment I work best in.

What inspires you as a woman in the art field? Do these inspirations come out in your work and what you do every day? How so?

What inspires me as a women is other women! When I see a woman doing her thing and creating beautiful art work, I’m like, “Yes sister! Please never stop pursuing your passion!” I’m also very inspired by my environment. When I’m walking around the city, I’m observing every little detail. I’m looking at outfits. I’m looking at the color of the paint on a door. I’m looking at stickers plastered on poles, love notes scratched onto windows on the train, graffiti, etc. Not sure if these inspirations come through my work, but they definitely move me and with music especially. Strong emotion is what fuels me the most creatively.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face artistically? Do you ever look forward to challenges? What kind do you expect to come as you progress?

One of my biggest challenges is myself. I am my worst enemy and harshest critic. Because I pay such close attention detail, if I don’t like one little thing, I’ll focus on it so much to the point where it drives me crazy until I can fix it. I want my work to represent me perfectly, but I do realize nothing is ever perfect. I would say I do look forward to challenges, hoping I can overcome them. If I don’t, I figure it was a lesson to be learned. I truly believe everything happens for a reason. Life never gets easier, but to give up is so easy and let’s face it- easy is never any fun.

When you think of women as artists, what do you envision?

I envision beautiful and powerful beings presenting their truth to the world. To present your art can make you feel so vulnerable, so I commend any artist pushing past their insecurities (if they have) to show the world their passion.

Any last words you want to put out there?

Be love, be genuine, support women of color/people of color, and speak your truth always!