‘Pen and Brush’: Female Artist Nonprofit Director Janice Sands Talks Women and Art

We love few things in this world more than supporting creative women — speaking of, have you checked out our Female Artist page lately? So our hearts really skipped a beat when we first heard of the non profit organization based in New York known as Pen and Brush.

For the past 119 years, Pen and Brush has fought against the disproportionate representation and recognition of women by giving female artists and writers a professional space to make and show their work. And for the past 15 years, Janice Sands has been serving as the Executive Director, shaping the organization’s programming and facilities to assist women in the ever-changing contemporary art scene. We reached out to her to learn more.

The Huffington Post: What changes are Pen and Brush currently undergoing?

Janice Sands: We made one really significant decision: the organization purchased a club house and used that facility to do everything it intended to do — readings, exhibitions, concerts, discussions. But it was a residential building and we decided it was restricting our ability to represent women. Women were not only doing oil paintings anymore; we needed to be able to accommodate all media, including much more installation and audio visual pieces. We want to show spectrum and diversity of what female artists can do.

HP: What are some misconceptions about the artwork of female artists?

JS: It’s not as good; it is feminine [or] women cannot continue to have their careers without being interrupted because of family pressures. Work by women is diverse; it is as diverse as work by men. There is a vocabulary for describing work by women that is very different than the vocabulary for describing work by men. But the work should always come first.

HP: How did you become involved? Are you an artist?

JS: I am not an artist. I had experience in nonprofits and I was the first Executive Director of the organization. i have been there for 15 years; before that they were an artist run organization. At its inception it was one of the only places where women who considered themselves professional artists could come together, sort of going the “separate but equal” route. When I signed on I felt it was a rare opportunity for an individual to make a real difference. One person can actually do something — that’s not common.

HP: What projects are on the horizon?

JS: Realistically, our new facility will not be ready until 2014. We would like to kick off with work that has been selected by curators and have a really open submission period.