Local feminist art community makes room at the table for female, non-binary artists

“I can tell you from my experiences as a female artist that there is a table for women artists to sit at,” FVQ co-founder Paige Tighe said. “It just isn’t as big as the men’s [table].”

Joe Cristo

For many people, finding adequate representation in the arts is difficult, but local visual arts organization Feminist Video Quarterly is tackling that issue head-on.

The group’s main goal is to support female and femme-identifying visual artists by showing and funding their work.

“I can tell you from my experiences as a female artist that there is a table for women artists to sit at,” FVQ co-founder Paige Tighe said. “It just isn’t as big as the men’s [table].”

FVQ fosters a community that acts as a hub for collaboration, and artists hold each other accountable.

“I have a very contentious relationship with art,” FVQ event organizer Chelsea Parker said. “I don’t really love high art; I like different things. So I felt uncomfortable in different art circles and decided to create that comfortable space myself.”

Inspiration for the organization sprung from a similarly themed group of femme artists — the Guerrilla Girls. Parker and Tighe visited their exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art last year.

“[Tighe] had the idea to start FVQ almost exactly a year ago,” Parker said. “For the first screening she asked me to submit a piece, and I loved it so much. I told her I wanted to get more involved, and we both agreed that we knew so many female, non-binary and trans artists who weren’t being given a platform. We could help change that.”

Initially, FVQ screenings were attended mostly by friends and acquaintances. The pair eventually reached out to filmmakers online and received work from people and places with untapped artistic talent.

“By the second showing it was mostly artists we didn’t know,” Tighe said. “But everything is local. We want to represent filmmakers who work around the Twin Cities. Social media helped us get there — our Facebook page is central.”

Events are held four times a year. They typically include a musical performance followed by an hour where roughly 10 visual artists screen their short films. Venues vary and include informal DIY spaces and established galleries.

“Afterwards, we meet at my studio space, and we have a big dinner,” Parker said. “We just sit, talk and eat. For those that want to, we offer a support system where you can meet contacts and other artists.”

FVQ recently received the Visual Arts Fund grant from the Midway Contemporary Art Library. The grant helps pay artists and cover concession costs. Up until this year, artists would perform for free.

“Before undergoing the arduous process of applying for the grant I wanted to make sure it was a right fit,” Tighe said. The grant was for organizations that are supporting a creative community with the desire to pay artists for their work.”

Now in its second year, FVQ has grown from an ambitious upstart to a widely recognized organization.

“I think how quickly we were able to get artists who we didn’t know proves there’s a demand,” Tighe said. “The demand for venues to hear marginalized voices. We’re trying to create a community that fosters that — I guess that’s our mission statement.”