Women’s History Month prompts reflections on the state of gender equity and equality in web3. Web3, tech, and art - and the intersection between them - presents a specific opportunity for improvement in gender diversity.
Per an ArtTactic study, 77% of NFT sales went to male artists between 2019 and 2021. A February report from BCG echoes what we already know: representation and leadership gaps persist. Only 13% of Web3 startups include a female founder, and within that group, only 3% of companies have a team that is exclusively female. Startups in web3 fared worse in gender representation within startups than the all-industries average.
Generative art is a genre of digital art that can be powered by artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain. Interest in the genre is growing; Refik Anadol’s “Unscripted” currently exhibiting at MoMa is an example of mainstream buzz.
With the current excitement around artificial intelligence and debate around art generated by code, it is important that all genders are represented in this burgeoning sector.
Women are critical figures in the history of generative art. Generative art institution Le Random is spotlighting women who pioneered generative art and its underlying technology this month. Figures include Vera Molnar, a media artist regarded as one of the first women to use computers to create art, and Lillian Schwartz, who pioneered computer-generated film, and is quoted as saying, “computers can be made to accommodate the entire breadth of artistic thought." Another historical figure is Ada Lovelace, a mathematician who wrote an algorithm in 1840 that predicted the field of computer-generated art.
Cibelle, a Brazilian artist, addresses the deconstruction and formation of identities in their work. They focus on conveying people's interactions with each other and their surroundings through an interdisciplinary practice of performance art, sound art, video, painting, sculpture and installation.
Their recent generative art work “A Picture Can’t Take Me,” where Cibelle writes a poem then passes it to GPT2 to complete it for them. Both the images in the video and the still image are the output of generative portraiture using StyleGAN2. The data set consists of Google search pictures of Cibelle when they were known as a cis woman singer, and selfies taken while transitioning to non-binary and aging, from a personal archive spanning 20 years.
Their work was likewise featured in the 2022 Artists Who Code exhibition in LA.
Poets Ana Maria Caballero, Sasha Stiles and Kalen Iwamoto are founders of theVERSEverse, which uses generative text models to create poetry. With its mission to onboard poets to web3, theVERSEverse uses their GenText series – limited edition text blocks that pair an artist, a poet and Sudowrite, an AI-powered writing tool – to create poetry for the metaverse. They are metapoets exploring creativity and creation at the intersection of generative text, poetry, and NFT art.
LA-based Mieke Marple is the creator of the Medusa Collection, a set of generative art NFTs reframing the Medusa myth. Through various charity art auctions, she has helped raise over a million dollars for Planned Parenthood LA and a quarter million for prison abolitionist organization Critical Resistance. Marple is co-founder of NFTuesdayLA and was co-owner of Night Gallery, Los Angeles, from 2011-2016. She led the 2022 Artists Who Code exhibit with Vellum LA, and her work is in the collection of the Museum of Crypto Art, Seattle NFT Museum, and McEvoy Family Collection.
Austrian artist LIA is a pioneer in software and net art and has been producing works since 1995. Her primary working material is computer code: she codes concepts into a smart machine that generates multimedia outputs in real-time. Lia interprets the machine's output and her work is complete when she is satisfied with its output. Her practice spans across video, performance, software, installations, sculpture, projections and digital applications.
LIA’s work was featured in last year’s “Artists Who Code” exhibition and auction cursed by artist and writer Mieke Marple and Vellum LA leader Sinziana Velicescu. Vellum LA is an NFT-focused exhibition space.
Ellie Pritts uses recursive analog and digital processes to reinterpret nostalgia in their art.
Ellie is widely recognized in the world of Web3 and NFT art, and their work has been featured in Fortune, Decrypt, Smithsonian Magazine and more. Their exhibitions have been presented by companies like Open.AI, SuperRare, Coinbase and Ledger. Their work was also part of the 2022 Artists Who Code exhibition in LA.
Pritts also works as a curator and is passionate about elevating other artists, particularly from underrepresented communities in the traditional art world.
Itzel Yard, known as Ix Shells, creates to advance social conviction. As Yard says, “"My hope is that this sets a precedent for women doing more work in the community. I try to make people see what I see in the work."
Yard writes code to determine characteristics like color, shape or texture, then allows the algorithm to create images independently, including abstraction, fractal geometry, and portraiture. Yard is fascinated by the social possibilities of public space, like with her piece Casco Viejo (2021). Sparking public dialogue is important to Yard who aims to provide counterpoints to a predominantly white and male crypto & web3 space.
Digital Mixed Media
With degrees in mathematics and painting, Spalter creates art to help people perceive and appreciate contemporary systems of human movement, travel, management, and control in new ways. She uses AI generated landscapes and AI generated gemstones in her work, among other technologies, including AI art generator Playform.io. Her work has been featured in the permanent collections of the V&A Museum; the Albright-Knox; the RISD Museum and others. In addition to gallery pieces she is known for large-scale public works such as her MTA Arts 52-screen installation in the Fulton St subway in NYC in 2016.
Melissa Widerrecht is an American generative artist living and working in Saudi Arabia. She has collections on Art Blocks Curated, which allow the viewer to generate artwork until the algorithm yields one they like, at which point it can be minted. Favorties can be saved along the way, before minting.
Melissa chose generative art as her career after earning a MS in Computer Science in 2014 and pushes the boundaries of generative art as a medium, both technically and aesthetically.
Melissa released “Sudfah” on Artblocks in June 2022. She has released several collections on fxhash (including “Zbageti”, “Solitude”, “Orbs”, and others), and has also worked on generative Surface Pattern Design, creating dozens of collections to be digitally printed on surfaces of product
Women and Nonbinary Artists Are Breaking New Ground through Generative Art NFTs
Web3 Already Has a Gender Diversity Problem
NFT Art Market Boom Is Overwhelmingly Benefiting Male Creators
This is not financial advice. If you don't want to spend money investing in crypto or Web3 — you don’t have to. The intent of this article is to help others educate themselves and learn.
Nicole Kyle is a storyteller, podcaster and gender equity advocate exploring the intersection of money, equality, technology, and creativity with a focus on crypto & web3 education. Nicole is a 2022 LinkedIn Top Voice in Gender Equity.