Behind the Art: The Women of EA

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by Mariah Gregg-Fling

Being able to create is one of the greatest joys in life. Visual art has been a part of my life in various capacities throughout my life, but it has always remained a large part of how I define myself.

Art can be meticulous at times and chaotic at others, which is why it such an honor to be so uninhibited for the art that I create for — and which lives in — the Electric Agora.

–Mariah

Sofia, January 2021

Sofia is the banner that began the multitude of ladies that grace this website. At the beginning of my time at the Electric Agora, I kept the themes for the bi-weekly rotation basic: philosophy based; nature, etc. But, I started to feel like I needed to draw something else.

Girl with Bracelet, April 2021

I have always had an affinity for the human form and especially the female. I find women more exciting and fun to draw, as their presentation is typically more whimsical than that of men. Makeup, jewelry, and high fashion will always be more interesting to me than black tuxedoes and beards.

Purple, October 2021
Pastel, March 2021

The ladies of the Electric Agora are largely inspired by Patrick Nagel’s work. His portraits focused largely on women with black hair and light skin, on a flat background. But the genius of his work was to combine that flat background with a three-dimensional figure. This combination pushes the viewer to intertwine the different dimensions, which creates a satisfying aesthetic.

1970, August 2021
Lady, February 2021

Most of the women I draw are simply an artistic exploration into different textures, facial details, color combinations, and an enthusiastic appreciation for the female form, with no purpose than to be visually pleasing.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy making them!

Queen, November 2021

29 comments

  1. Great to hear from the artist who has created such very dynamic, Juke-box-like images for the Electric Agora. However, this is also one of the first female voices that I recall having read on the EA (unless I have missed out on something). So it occurs to me that maybe the EA should be doing more to encourage female contributors of whatever affiliation, to contribute to its philosophical debates – especially as gender has now become such a topical issue.

  2. There is something quite wonderful about having an art gallery combined with a cognitive gallery. I just love this combination and look forward to the illustration as much as I look forward to the essay. Dan you have hit on a winner.

  3. So it occurs to me that maybe the EA should be doing more to encourage female contributors of whatever affiliation, to contribute to its philosophical debates

    Yes. And what puzzles me is the absence of female commentators. Why would that be?

  4. I guess this is an ideal time to compliment the entire EA graphic presentation. Dan, with the indispensable help of Mariah, you have singularly to my surprise, created quite an aesthetic and professional enterprise. Surprised, because I never suspected such a professionally produced production with flair, that obviously must be costly in funds and effort to present what one might have anticipated to be another sterile Spartan format for staid intellectuals.

    Leave it to a Jewish boy from Lawwng Island to blow the wheels off the digital philosophy cart with panache.

  5. maybe the EA should be doing more to encourage female contributors

    Gosh, I am surprised that our esteemed host should publish such a politically maladroit comment. You have knowingly trampled on the delicate sensitivities of our most important sub-culture, that of the transgenderites. Now they feel more bruised and excluded than ever before. Woke up and smell the roses before it is too late.

    1. You (Dan) have never thought of inviting Kathleen Stock to contribute to the Electric Agora? Or asking her if she has less famous and/or less notorious friends or colleagues who might like a space to express their point of view?

  6. It will help if you buy the well known 200 page concordance of transgender pronouns. Careful perusal will guide you through the maze of transgender offence.

  7. Thanks to you Mariah for the beautiful, hip, and edgy images. I always liked how Nagel uses the woman’s black hair to frame the women’s pale faces and create that sharp arresting contrast. Perhaps your reflections on your art for EA provide us with the zeitgeist of the effort.

    “I kept the themes for the bi-weekly rotation basic: philosophy based; nature, etc. But, I started to feel like I needed to draw something else. I have always had an affinity for the human form and especially the female. I find women more exciting and fun to draw, as their presentation is typically more whimsical than that of men.”

    Hear that men?
    Isn’t that the verve of Daniel’s wanting to go beyond the constraints of formal academic philosophy? Something with more feel, more fun, more excitement, more whimsy … something more …. feminine?

    1. Mariah is a dear and very close friend. A former student from years ago.

      She knows me and my tastes so well that I was able to completely hand over art direction to her. I don’t tell her what to draw, banner- or thumbnail-wise.

      And I think your final characterization is a fair one. You may be interested to know that a third “wing” is coming to EA, alongside its Podcasts and Essays, and that is a fiction wing, where I will publish my own fiction, as well as take submissions from fiction writers. It’ll probably launch sometime after the New Year.

      1. Hi Dan, would this include book reviews? I was toying with the idea of writing a review of Damon Galgut’s The Promise, the recent Booker Prize winner, since it sheds interesting light on my own poor, troubled country.

          1. You seem to be moving in the direction of publishing a thoughtful magazine with philosophic underpinnings.

          2. Peter,

            What do you think of Coetzee’s Disgrace as a novel about post-apartheid South Africa? I read it quite a few years ago, but it made a strong impression. And of course he won the Nobel Prize soon after writing it.

          3. Hi SW,
            I started Disgrace but found the misconduct of the central character, an academic from a Cape Town university, to be so cringe making that I abandoned the book. Is there any academic that can read that book without twinges of guilt? But what I read was very good and utterly authentic. You have reminded me that I should finish the book.

            I can recommend the Benny Griessel books by Deon Meyer. They portray the struggles of an alcoholic but brilliant white Detective Inspector in the racially transformed Cape Town police, against his own police bureaucracy and against the endemic violent crime among the Coloured peoples of Cape Town. The books are fast paced police/crime thrillers and make for easy reading. But their portrayal of the new South Africa is riveting and authentic. And I can assure you from my own experience and from my own contacts that the truth is far worse than that depicted by Deon Meyer.

            The books I recommend are Thirteen Hours, Devil’s Peak, Dead Before Dying and 7 Days.

            Deon Mayer can be compared with the Swedish crime writer Jo Nesbø, whose central character, Harry Hole, is similar to Benny Griessel.

  8. “Most of the women I draw are simply an artistic exploration into different textures, facial details, color combinations, and an enthusiastic appreciation for the female form, with no purpose than to be visually pleasing.”

    Refreshingly straightforward, politically unencumbered and honest approach. Meanings show through, of course. Lots of energy and flair.

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