Women are finally taking their rightful place in the art world, free to live a full and balanced life that reshapes art and encourages them to pursue their creative passion.

Thanks to trailblazing women like Camille Claudel and others in history who defied prevailing social norms, artists like Dara Friedman can share their bold and innovative art with audiences.

(Photo Credit: ArtNews)

Dara represents the modern female artist with a style that is clearly front and center, involving innovative techniques and creative tools to convey her truth.

Recently, I spent a week discovering the life and works of Georgia O’Keeffe at her Santa Fe, New Mexico ranch. Georgia’s sense of freedom and determination to live by her own rules (a pioneer in the1930’s), provided the perfect segway for understanding Dara’s artist-life.

Both women exemplify the new wave of female artists who explore new styles while also harnessing the desire for a life filled with love and happy relationships. What’s makes them different from women in the past is their ability to do this on a more equal footing with men.

Georgia’s love affair with her agent and husband, Alfred Stieglitz, revolved around her desire to work and live where she felt most inspired. WomanScape will do a more in-depth feature on Georgia’s life and works in the new year, but Georgia picks up where Camille left off.  She is yet another stepping stone in the important transition women have made away from gender biases and social expectations that once held them in check.

Dara represents the next evolution of female artists – as a global citizen working in a new medium.  Born in Germany in 1968, Dara studied in Germany and New York before moving to Miami in 1994.  She lives there today and shares a home with her husband, British-born sculptor Mark Handforth and their two daughters.

Having dabbled in art for the last two decades, Dara is now in her early forties and creates video installations and films. In a sense, she has become Miami’s homegrown superstar. Her success is global and her work has been an evolutionary process, gradually revealing a new and very emotionally compelling style.

Using 16 mm and Super 8 mm film, Dara’s work is a spontaneous conversation around people moving and dancing in conditions that are both set up and free-flowing.  Her work doesn’t follow a typically linear approach but moves freely within the setting she creates.

Dara encourages audiences to connect with her subjects and places in her scenes. She describes her art as a style of poetry that is free from words and language, and more authentic because it captures the spontaneity of human beings whose lives are anything but linear.

Dara began exhibiting in 1997 at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art and has become a hometown sensation in Miami. With more than a dozen shows and installations from Berlin to Los Angeles and New York, Dara’s awards are growing as is her global fame.

In her earliest exhibit, Dara explored the state of creation and destruction, showing how we create even when we wipe something out. This 1997 piece entitled Total played a film that showed her destroying the contents of a room and smashing and stomping out everything.  A second film followed and played the destruction in reverse.

Several years later, Dara depicted the chemistry of relationships in her New York installation, Play. In it, she shows the random and staged romantic chemistry of couples. Couples are seen flaunting, sabotaging and playing any number of games, much as we do in real life.

Her latest installation at the Pérez Art Museum Miami is called Dara Friedman: Perfect Stranger.  It definitely speaks to the stages of her life, with three stations that hold varying sizes and numbers of screens.  The first exhibit shows three women unbuttoning their bras and looking like they’re ready to fly.  The second has an artist-looking woman slamming doors and moving from light to dark.  The third artwork is simply a television sitting on the floor with a bench in front of it.

In the book, Perfect Stranger, Dara has tried to collect the body of images and her thought process for creating the installation.

Dara believes people see themselves and each other with greater clarity when we stand back and watch our lives unfold.  What’s wonderful about all of Dara’s work is that it is simply an artist exploring and creating a body of work. There isn’t the need to draw attention to female organs or to call out sexist images. The work simply speaks for itself.

When asked about her life and relationship with her husband Mark, Dara says they admire each other’s work and are careful about balancing their individual ambition among both careers. This is a sure sign that women have arrived.

Rose McInerney

Rose McInerney

Rose combines her love of all things artfully-designed to connect women to a shared community of learning and a richer, more fulfilled self. As a passionate storyteller, published writer, and international traveler, Rose believes women can build a better world through powerful storytelling.

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