Here is the next generation of female artists

Ten of our favourite female identified photographers, curators, and creatives place their bets on who will be big in 2016

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Photography Chloe Sheppard

Women's influence on the art world is ever increasing and unstoppable. With a plethora of young girls using instagram and social media as their own personal gallery space, the boundaries between white-walled, white male dominated ‘fine art’ and inclusive, diverse, female led work is shrinking. With more and more first wave online artists bagging their own international solo shows, curating inclusive gallery spaces, and creating full blown art movements, feminist art is certainly no longer restricted to our Tumblr dashboards. To round off a year of subverting the male gaze, empowered selfies, and female dominated group shows, we've asked ten of the best female identified creatives to recount their favourite moments of 2015, and select their artistic ones to watch for the upcoming year.

MOLLY SODA

Honestly, I feel like every year gets better, bigger, and more exciting so 2015 definitely held a lot of dear moments for me. I curated a group, digital art exhibition in conjunction with NewHive titled What's Your Wifi?” in Detroit. It was my first time curating and putting a show together and it was beautiful seeing so many people from the city I live in participating in and supporting digital work. In March, I took my first trip to Austin, Texas for SXSW and got to speak on a panel titled, Making Art While Entertaining the Internet” with other amazing artists and creatives such as, Jillian Mayer, Yung Jake, Whitney Mallett and Sean Carney. I've actually had the opportunity to speak about my work at many places since then including Oberlin College and the Sotheby's Institute in London. In August I curated another, less digitally based show, at Stream Gallery in Brooklyn titled Same about finding one-ness and solidarity with strangers on the Internet. My zine, “Should I Send This?” got a ridiculous amount of coverage and attention online and it all came from just sharing some things I was scared, nervous and maybe a little bit embarrassed about. And finally, I ended the year with a trip to London for my first international solo show, From my bedroom to yours at Annka Kultys Gallery. It's been a really fast-paced and overwhelming year for me, personally - I quit drinking right at the end of 2014 so I was sort of learning how to navigate and learn how to live my life sober - which, in the end, has been totally worth it and eye opening.

I've been watching and interacting with so many amazing girls online, basically since I started using the internet, and it's so amazing to see such an overflow of talent everywhere I click! Currently, I'm really obsessed with the artist Maren Karlson. She's based in Berlin and does these beautiful, surreal illustrations. I love the way she draws bodies and how all of her illustrations are slightly different in the materials and tools she seems to use. I'm very drawn to comics and printed illustration work in general, perhaps because it's so far removed from what I do. It's really like seeing all of your wildest fantasies come to life!”

ARVIDA BYSTRÖM  

“My highlight of the past year is moving to LA, making a video for sweetest Rina Sawayama, as well as starting to release my own music,  and last but not least mine and Maya Malou Lyse’s Selfie stick aerobics that we performed at the Tate during the London photography fair, which we then decided making into a video.

Although it's not a singular artist, there is a group on Facebook, Twitter, and Soundcloud called “Sister”. In this online space female identified music producers and makers post about their projects, tutorials, other people's inspiring music, and discuss sexism in the industry. With that in mind I hope in 2016 there are more group efforts to support each other, make better work and dare to show each other our projects.”

JULIA FOX

“This year was extremely pivotal for me. I was going in one direction and suddenly due to a series of unexpected events, my whole life detoured and went in an entirely different direction. I got out of an abusive relationship that I thought I could never escape. In doing so, I regained some self esteem and independence. Two things I totally lost while being with that person. And the book release was huge for me because I embraced my truth instead of fleeing from it. Being honest was liberating and actually turned out to work in my favor. My line is going well. Franziska fox is my baby girl and I'm so proud of her and my team. I love my co founder Briana Andalore, She really holds everything together and does most of the work for me since I'm so hard to pin down.

Another highlight would have to be when I moved states. My car broke down in the south during a road trip while “trying to find myself” (cliche, I know). I wound up in Louisiana and loved it so much that I never left. I've been down here a few months and I've never been happier. Definitely wasn't expecting that in the beginning of 2015... I'm excited to see what kind of crazy shit I'll get into in 2016.

It's hard for me to find people that genuinely intrigue me but when I discovered Lindsay Dye  it was love at first sight. She's the real deal. She also just turns me on. But aside from that, I also love what she's doing. Like myself, she uses herself as inspiration for her art allowing anyone to feel an intimacy and closeness to her. She's a camgirl and definitely super provocative. I'm sure she will receive a lot of scrutiny throughout her career, but that happens anytime someone is doing something major. Also, she is funny which lightens everything. Being funny is the number one most important thing in my opinion. People that take themselves too seriously are such a bore.”

ASHLEY ARMITAGE 

“Last year, I got into photo school and started taking photos more frequently. Before that it was just a hobby that I didn't take seriously. For the first time in my life this year I started pushing my work to get it out there. All the hard work totally paid off. Back in January, I was in my first show ever. It was a group photo show at my friend's house. After that, I had my first solo photo show at a gallery called The Factory and since then I've been in several group and solo shows across the US. Galleries are really exclusive and male-dominated and privileged, but this year I made a lot of connections with people and places that work to promote minorities. Alternative spaces are so important, so this year I started hosting art shows in my own apartment and I also co-founded Girls by Girls Agency. We just launched our website and have already featured three different female photographers. I'm really excited to see where that will go.

Next year, I think that Chloe Sheppard will be great! I recently discovered her through Instagram. Her work is so dreamy and I like the way she captures girls. The people in her photos are shown in two ways: they either look totally disinterested in the gaze of the camera, with their eyes closed or looking away, or they shatter the fourth wall by making direct eye contact with the viewer. That eye-to-eye engagement is so powerful. Her work is so good, and she's only 19! I can't wait to see what else she makes.”

OOMK 

“Between releasing our fourth issue and co-organising the ever expanding DIY Cultures Fair the collective behind ​​OOMK Zine have been keeping it cute and collaborative in 2015. We curated our first exhibition, Visions of the Future, at the Islamic Human Rights Commission gallery earlier this year producing a set of zines, an audio booth, and a temporary reading room formed of publications from a diverse pool of artists, collectives and activist groups exploring their own imaginings and strategies for the future.

Heiba: It's been a year full of zines and I’ve been slowly building my collection: Isaac Kariuki & co's Diaspora Drama zine was so awesome we asked him to shoot the front cover of OOMK Issue 4. The last few months has given us independent newspaper zine Roadfemme and alternative women's mag Typical Girls who are both going to be doing mad cool things in 2016. One of the highlights of running events as part of OOMK is getting to connect with new people, and meeting Abondance Matanda at the Tate Turbine Hall Festival during one of our workshops definitely warmed my old, cold heart. She’s hand-made copies of her own poetry book, Destructive Disruptive from re-appropriated A-level art supplies at school and is now selling them online, alongside Yutes of London. I was never as cool as them at 17, but they’re gonna set 2016 on fire. 

Rose: RubbishFam Zine is a biannual zine documenting the art and lives of a young Singaporean family – parents Pan and Claire, and 11 year old Renn and 8 year old Aira. The family function as a cool, dynamic art collective, collaborating to output beautiful zines and exhibitions together. I fell in love with this zine when I first encountered it this year for so many reasons – this rich insight into their family is charming and beautifully put together in unique and inventive ways. The limited edition zine projects have won numerous design awards and have gained a dedicated readership. The endearing and talented family increases in ingenuity and with each issue and I am really excited to see what the collective is working on in their next zine in 2016.

Sofia: I’m looking forward to the next issue of STRIKE! The female led publication is very visually tasty and always an interesting read, their next installment will be the Decolonial issue. I’m also hoping Munaza from Bradical Bradford will be making more zines about PREVENT and documenting how counter terrorism legislation is making muslims feel (insert scream emoji). I’m looking forward to more zines from Arwa Aburawa too, I worked with her on Intifada Milk this year and I know she’s got lots of excellent ideas so I’m excited to see what she will come up with next.”

GRACE MICELI 

“So I had to scroll back a year in my instagram feed to help myself remember everything that has happened this year, because it was like, so much. This year my friend Laia Garcia asked me to make her a sweatshirt based on my “Girls at Night On The Internet” painting from 2012 and it went a little viral when she ran into Lena Dunham while wearing it. I started taking seriously the requests to put my illustrations on clothing and Art Baby Girl, the brand, was then conceived. I was published in Petra Collin’s book Babe & in a few print magazines that I idolised as a teenager. My online exhibition space Art Baby Gallery had its first IRL group exhibition at Alt Space Brooklyn, a space where I’m now on staff as a curator, my second show (as a curator) opened a couple of weeks back. While I’m super proud of all the projects I’ve helped produce & the press they have received this year the most rewarding aspect was being able to meet and collaborate with so many new artists who have now become my friends.

Looking forward to next year I’m really excited to see what artist/illustrator Fabiola Lara comes up with. Just this past month she came out with Drake & Beyonce “Rapping Paper” and a “Gal Cal" to mark off if you are pregnant or not (100% of the proceeds go to Planned Parenthood). Fabi’s current oeuvre is engaging contemporary culture, socially conscious and really really funny.”

ERIKA LUST

“2015 has been a great year for me, mostly due to my latest project XConfessions.com. It has appeared at Raindance International Film Festival in London and Chicago International Film Festival, which was a huge step forward - not only for me as a filmmaker, but also for everyone who believes in a different, better approach to the way we portray erotica in cinema. Being a woman and talking about explicit sex on screen to an audience of moviegoers and mainstream cinema experts isn't exactly an everyday thing. This was certainly something to celebrate.

The response to that was incredibly positive! Since its launch in 2013, XConfessions has grown with over 100,000 members and now 60 films having been shot for the project. This year's work has been some of the most adventurous yet. I now work with a bigger team of professionals, which allows me to think of even bigger and more ambitious projects - we've started working on the development of a feature film... watch this space!

There are so many great women with interesting careers out there, but I decided to keep my references inside the erotic world. – I thought “if I don't do it, who else will?” So I'm pleased to say that someone who inspires me everyday is erotic cam-girl, performer and producer Vex-Ashley. She's a true modern entrepreneur and besides working in the the adult filmmaking field like myself, we also share the vision about doing it ethically. She's an all round incredibly talented girl as a co-owner of the DIY adult film company A Four Chambered Heart. What's so great about her work is the way she'll combine textures, nature, anatomy and technology to highlight organic shapes and pleasure in sex. Her films are among the best I've seen lately in the adult world and it’s impressive to see how someone so young is pushing the boundaries of erotic filmmaking. She is also a highly talented performer, having had the pleasure of working with her for XConfessions Vol.6. You can see she's in complete ownership of her body, work and life.”

ART HOE

“The founding year of any movement or collective is one of immense importance; the art hoe collective is no exception. Within our first five months of operating via Instagram, we aimed to touch the lives of over 20K young poc creatives, providing a vibrant platform showcasing various forms of art.  In the coming year of 2016 we hope to carve a space for creatives of colour to share their talents outside of social media, in fact we are set to have our first meetup in the coming weeks to celebrate our milestone of 20k followers. We hope that as the collective expands we can bring online artists together in real life spaces. Some fine examples of those creating spaces for individuals of color are young women empowering their community; Girl Power Meet Ups DC, founded by Samera Paz, Lee Phillips, and Ari Melenciano, Black Girl Magik meetups founded by Shydeia Caldwell, as well as events organized by the duo Ohlafemi x Muva Jess that bring poc artists to the forefront.

Galleries like Altspace in Brooklyn are also groundbreaking in their accessibility to minorities. Some excellent visual artists to look out for include Mith, Daniel Diasgranados, Sydney Vernon, and Jewel Ham. Musical artists like Brooklyn White, Marco Mckinnis, Polly Anna, and Caleb Steph are also on the rise. Outlets that often get overlooked like podcasts, blogs, and magazines should be brought into the discussion next year as well,the diversification of the media people of color are using to get their voice out is the next big step. Some of our favorites include Black Girls Talking!, Cecile Emeke shorts, Shade Mag, Baby Twigs, and the Sula Collective. Art is a tool that that bridges that voice of the marginalised to the rest of the world through expression. Looking into the future we as a collective can only hope to help more artists of colour build that bridge and find opportunities to have their voices heard.” 

ANTONIA MARSH

“This year has been monumental for me. While 2014 signified the genesis and initiation of the Girls Only residency program in a beautiful Brooklyn studio, it was 2015 that really cemented the project as one that can develop and maintain its capacity to support young females in the arts. This year saw Girls Only hop across the pond to London, with five exhibitions there alone, showing the work of something crazy like fourty artists in an unstoppable pink plethora of media. I then took the project to Copenhagen, where I met, interviewed and photographed 21 young female artists in their studios over the course of just one month. The results of which I am compiling into a small publication to be ready in the new year. To celebrate, I curated a huge feast/installation, where everybody chipped in and the meal functioned as a group exhibition both conceptually and visually. The artists were able to forge connections with other artists they hadn’t met before despite living in such a small city, and so the dinner became a site for production, idea exchange and conversation: much like an exhibition without the bureaucratic pomp or formality.

Food hasn’t escaped my practice since: I just launched a photography zine called Food Diary in NYC, which was an exploration into the accidental still life the meal can form and how it is able to signify specific memories for the individuals involved in the photos, and of course their photographers; but a more general sense of nostalgia for others. I’ve become more experimental this year, too: curating exhibitions anonymously, as a way to cathartically remove curatorial authorship from my practice, which I’ve always found problematic, especially with my generation. Sometimes this reflects the content of the exhibition, a nudity show I curated in my hotel bedroom for example, but other times it’s really just to get the work up there and not worry about why or how it relates to me… curating is really all about the artist’s involved and it can be easy in our self­involved, egoist society to remember that.

Tatiana Compton is a visual artist, embroiderer and tattoo artist. Tati and I met one night in Kentish Town at her and her boyfriend, painter Danny Fox’s apartment, when I interviewed him for a mini­ essay I was writing for a publication at the time. Danny was showing me around the flat and I noticed a sheet of tattoo flash drawings on the side in one of the rooms and upon enquiring he told me about Tati’s work and that she tattoos friends just in their home for fun. Tati and I then met later that night and had a wicked night out. She showed me more of her drawings which are all incredible, and her humility about her work was and still remains outstanding, so I was thrilled that she agreed to show her work and tattoo her stick ‘n’ poke designs at the openings and throughout three of my exhibitions.”

POLLY NOR

“This year I have been working on a range of hand drawn and digital illustrations that explore themes of female identity, sexuality and relationships. As well as that I have launched an online store to sell my prints, designed a line of phone cases, and illustrated a book for Bloomsbury. My highlights have been putting on my first solo show Sorry Grandma at 71a Gallery, being featured by Dazed as one of your top female illustrators and having strangers tattooing themselves with my drawings.

I see big things for Juno Calypso, I have known Juno since we did art together back in sixth form and I've always been a fan of her work. She has just won the BJP International Photography awards for her self portraits of her alter-ego Joyce. She has been smashing it this year and I'm very excited to see what next year has in store for her. 

I fell in love with Mary Stephenson's “Paper Portraits” at her exhibition at Mother Studios last year. For “Paper Portraits” Mary creates life-size, hand-made sets of her friend's family homes, she makes each prop out of paper, card and expanding foam, and then photographs her real life subjects within the reconstructed scenes. In her new self-portraiture series “My Man”, Mary is is creating romantic date scenes where she photographs herself along with her hypothetical boyfriends that are all made out of clay. I am hoping to join forces with her in the new year to bring some of my illustrations to life as installations. 

And last but not least my favourite artist of the moment is Nina Chanel Abney. She explores complex themes of race, gender and politics through playful story telling, cultural references and bold colour. Each of her paintings are incredible. I hope to see many more from Chanel next year.”

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