Get To Know: Femme-identifying gallery platform The Blush Room
The Blush Room is a new way of experiencing contemporary artwork. With their exclusive two-week runs, they hand over their online space to femme-identifying artists, harnessing the power of collaboration through a WiFi connection. Not So Popular's Jade French caught up with brains behind the project Katy Lester and Taylor Nelson.
First up, could you give us a little intro to Blush Room and who the brains behind it are?
We are The Blush Room, an online gallery space for femme-identifying artists and creatives. We started this endeavour with the hopes of promoting and uplifting other femme artists. We wanted to create a space and an opportunity for people like us to not only show their work but be able to reach a greater audience than in a traditional gallery space. We met in college, had very little money, but were still interested in making and promoting art; our collaboration started in the zines and printed materials, and through common experiences and interests, decided to make an all femme zine. After receiving enthusiastic feedback from our peers, we realized there was an opportunity to elevate the project and expand our audience, so moving to an online space was a natural next step.
You mentioned that you started out making zines, and you've also thrown events, what's the best bit about getting IRL?
The Internet is cool, because you have literally infinite accessibility - to people, places, thoughts, spaces, etc. - but there's really no way to replace tangibility. There is something very important and valuable about the offline experience, whether that stems from holding a printed zine in your hand, or being in a room with like-minded people.
What is the DIY scene like in Seattle? Where should we [as newbies] start?
The DIY scene in Seattle is alive and well! We're lucky to have a vibrant DIY scene up here, where things like Short Run, Vignettes, and Black Lodge exist. In our experience, this city really promotes collaboration over competition, and people are always stoked to support each other. During a time when our city is changing a lot (see: this article or any other regarding gentrification in Seattle), alternative spaces are more crucial than ever to maintaining the city's culture and personality.
What do you find empowering about doing it yourself?
We find a lot empowering about this project! For one, we both empower one another, just from enabling the other person to express ideas freely. Above that, it's empowering to make our own rules. We're both young and not in a position where our day jobs are super fulfilling to us, so it's nice to come home at the end of the day and be able to fully own something. Additionally, through this project we have the opportunity to enable other women and femme-identifying people to do the same.
How do you source work? And is this global access a facet of online curation you wouldn't be able to achieve in a physical zine/exhibition?
So, Bristol is a Seattle-based artist, and Rachel is based out of Brazil. We know Bristol from the art community here, and felt that she was a natural pick for our first exhibition since we wanted to have a launch party here (in Seattle), and we love her work; Rachel was a long-time Internet crush, who we felt was a reach but were absolutely thrilled when she accepted our proposal for an exhibition. We find a lot of value in being able to support people within the Seattle community, but also being an online platform think it's crucial that we support artists everywhere, since that is the natural of having an online existence.
What drew you to curating online? Why did you decide to create an online space for femme artists in particular?
Since the Internet is free and readily available, creating an online space was a feasible option, whereas having a storefront or gallery space isn't really in our budget (finance and time wise). We decided to create this space for femme-identifying artists specifically because, for one, it's part of our identities and we believe strongly in supporting other femmes, and beyond that don't feel like we need to be creating more space/opportunities for hetero dudes. There's a plethora of badass, untapped femme artists who work hard and deserve the exposure, that they simply aren't getting. In addition, we wanted to mimic the nature of a physical gallery, in that the work is only up for a certain amount of time. Differently than a lot of online platforms where the content remains viewable forever, the temporal nature of The Blush Room makes viewing the work online more special to the viewer.
What advice would you give to people who want to start their own projects? Any issues/wins you've come across since starting Blush Room?
You lose nothing in trying, so you might as well go for it. Yes, it requires time but if you like and feel passionate about what you're doing, then it really doesn't matter. For us, this project has been fulfilling in a way that other projects have not. When we first started this project neither of us really knew what we were doing, and even still figuring out how to navigate within the online art sphere.
Is there a correlation between creating a political space and starting a DIY project? Is so, are there any political issues that particularly motivate you to be DIY?
This is a big question! Yes, at it's core DIY works against the mainstream political grain. However, we wouldn't necessarily say this project was created with the intent to rebel against "the Patriarchy," or traditional art establishments, but was more so developed to empower people like us.
Which artists are upcoming for the next Blush Room exhibitions?
We have three artists coming up: Cortney Cassidy, Monica Kim Garza, and Ashley Armitage, but are always looking for more! If you fit the bill and are interested, please reach out - we'd love to hear from you (firstname.lastname@example.org).