Femininity is Invaluable & Nina Klein's Art is Here To Prove It
Nina Klein is a California-based artist who’s dreamlike paintings are shifting beliefs about the worth of femininity. She’s the first painter we’ve interviewed at Mindful Feminism, and we wouldn’t have it any other way, not just because of the beauty of her pieces, but the brilliant message they convey.
For as long as she remembers Nina has been painting and drawing. As a child, her grandmother and mother would cheer her on and always highlight the talent she was born with. The cheering was ever-present in school as well. “Teachers would tell me I was gifted, I would have my art displayed, and that persuaded me to keep going and to pursue this life,” she told Mindful Feminism.
Being one of seven siblings, Nina never felt pressure to be something other than herself. “At home, I was truly given the freedom to do what I wanted, my parents constantly said ‘do what you love, be happy, and the money will come,’ so that faith-based mentality gave me the self-confidence to follow my dreams.”
High school was perhaps the only time Nina wondered about her chance of making it in a male-dominated industry. "Female role models are scarce, the majority of artists you hear about in history books or even in galleries and museums are males,” she told us. So for a while, that absence of someone to look up to led her to think perhaps art wasn’t for her. Luckily, in her late teens, the encouragement she'd always received kicked in: "I thought, ‘you know what, I’m talented, I can do this. I love it, and I’m just going to do it.’”
But going for it didn’t mean she’d never have to think about sexism within the art world again. “I remember having a teacher in school that told me: ‘I hate to use the female card, but for a girl, you’re really good.’ And that was startling for me -I never thought of my talents as ‘good for a girl,’ I just always thought I was as good as any man because of my hard work.”
“Sometimes I also felt that people wouldn’t take me seriously because they’d think of me as a very feminine artist, or a ‘girl artist’ rather than just an artist.” But today, Nina knows that the femininity of her art is actually her strength –an element worth celebrating. “Feminine and masculine qualities should be equals even when it comes to aesthetic. Things that are viewed as soft, like pastels, should be valued as much as all the harsh more rigid aesthetics”, she mentioned.
Through her work, Nina uses ambiguity to replace reality and remind all women of their inherent value. “I feel like many can identify with the figures I paint because I don’t usually put faces or heads on them. I purposely don’t use natural skin tones, I like to do blues and colors anyone can see themselves in."
Our conversation ended on a powerful note. Nina spoke to us about the change that needs to happen to see more work by women in museums and galleries around the world. “I believe the first step, is talking about it more. And I think that whenever people go into galleries or museums, they should ask those in charge about the percentage of females included in the collections. I trust if people are held accountable, or at least made aware of these discrepancies, they’ll start making a conscious effort to include to more women.”