The following interview forms part of a series where I invite a number of contemporary artists to each reflect on their personal history, meaning and philosophy, and how those are expressed throughout their creative process.
This week I talk to Hermione Ross, an artist and illustrator based in London who draws on feminist issues, “most importantly those faced by WOC, trans women and sex workers”.
In our interview, Ross tells me the personal driving forces which led her towards bringing attention to those issues, as well as her own experience of being a woman in the art world, and what it means to her to be vulnerable as an artist.
With your illustrations, you “bring attention to issues that ALL women face; most importantly marginalised women such as WOC, trans women and sex workers”. Tell us more about what motivates you towards those issues.
There are a few reasons why I feel compelled to communicate these issues through my art, but the main reason I suppose is trying to acknowledge my privilege as a white, cis-gendered woman. I feel there isn’t really an excuse nowadays to not be aware of privilege and how it affects everything around us, so it feels like the least I can do is try to bring attention to these issues through my creative practise.
I would also say growing up in a large family of mainly women has had a huge influence on my gravitation towards focusing on issues of marginalised groups. My sisters in particular (I am the youngest of 4 girls) are my biggest influence. They constantly inspire me to be fearless in expressing myself and my beliefs, whilst also challenging me to continuously educate myself and question my choices as much as I can.
From your perspective within the art world, how much progress have you noticed in terms of awareness of marginalised women? Where do you think most work is still needed?
Unfortunately, as with pretty much all industries, there is SO far to go. Women in general are extremely underrepresented in the art world, less than 5% of artists in the Modern Art sections of museums worldwide are women, and the number of non-white female artists are even smaller. I do think this is changing, but unfortunately the support needs to be there for female artists, and it needs to come from the inside.
What is your own experience of being a woman in the art world?
My personal experience has been a positive one, and I think that stems from being encouraged and supported to explore my creativity. My experience of studying art has been predominately amongst women, which for me made my experience more enjoyable, emotional and inclusive. However, in conjunction with the context of your previous question, this highlights further how underrepresented women are in the art world are, considering the majority of art students identify as female.
Who is a contemporary female artist you are constantly inspired by?
I really love the playfulness and satire nature of Jillian Evelyn, and I feel the inspiration from her work in mine is undeniable. However, I recently discovered Jade Fadojutimi’s work, and would say she is my muse at the moment – character and expression screams at you through the paint.
What does it mean to you to be vulnerable as an artist?
Vulnerability as an artist for me means expressing yourself truthfully through your art. For me this includes constantly questioning why I am are creating a piece, for who and most importantly, am I enjoying making it.
If you were to design a new piece that emulated your current experience of the world, what might it include?
I am actually in the process of doing so. As a naturally positive person, I have found the last few weeks extremely tough- with the murder of Sarah Everard, the police retaliation to her vigil, and the drastically rising amount of hate crimes against the Asian community. I am looking to create something which gives an impression of strength, power, and resilience. Something which I feel we all need a little more of at the moment.