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Posts Tagged ‘aqua miami’

Unconscious bias and the art world (Part I of II)

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

In advance of the Aqua Art Miami & Association of Women Art Dealers’ collaboration during Miami Art Week 2016, two blog posts by Susan Mumford, our Founder and CEO, address key facets of gender disparity in the sector. This first part brings to light a silent enabler of gender disparity: unconscious bias.


According to the UK-based lecturer Sandy Sparks*, unconscious bias “refers to a bias that we are unaware of, and which happens outside of our control. It is a bias that happens automatically and is triggered by our brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences.

Does this sound familiar to your own experiences or those you’ve seen of others?

This bias can affect the decisions of men and women alike, decisions that are at the detriment of women’s careers – albeit without their knowledge. And it sometimes reveals itself in the open. Take for instance a question I was asked as an emerging gallerist in my mid-twenties: “So when do you plan on having a family?” Combined with the tone of voice used, the 50-year old male artist might as well have asked, “When will you decide to focus on your personal life and stop representing me?” The question ostensibly sprang from raging doubts in the back of his mind. This type of experience results in many women working out how to answer such seemingly left-field questions in advance, so that when presented, they’re swiftly dealt with before moving onto the subject at hand, the unconscious bias moved out of the way.

Hollywood actor, producer and writer Geena Davis** has become an advocate for the cause and says, “We have to keep in mind the tremendous amount of unconscious bias against women. Because if women and men were truly equally talented and equally hired based on their talent and ability, we would have half of both. While her focus is the film industry, the sentiment equally applies to the art world. She adds, “Even if people say, ‘I’m just hiring the best person for the job,’ and they keep hiring male directors, it’s not something they are necessarily completely aware of,” adding that if people cannot defeat their biases on their own, then “we need to take measures to defeat it.” What might such a measure look like in the art world? Galleries could readily represent as many women as men. Critics could make a concerted effort to review galleries run by women, in addition to solo shows by women artists. While I appreciate that such a regimented approach isn’t welcome by many, I urge mindfulness of gender balance in your professional life. Should you identify an imbalance, work out a solution to improve it.

Needless to say, you can only find a solution once you’re aware of the root of a problem, and when it comes to unconscious bias, the first step is awareness. By shifting unconscious thoughts and judgements into your conscious mind, day in, day out, you’re positioned to make objectively minded decisions that work towards a gender balanced art world.


Want more insight on gender dynamics in the art world? Keen to take advantage of networking opportunites?

Lady art dealers, join the next online meeting of the AWAD Virtual Chapter on Monday 10th October 2016! 9am PST / 12pm EST / 5pm UK. — Free for qualifying visitors to attend–

(See all upcoming events in the AWAD Calendar.)

Check out the Aqua Art Miami website and follow on social media:

Instagram: @artmiamifairs Twitter:@Art_Miami


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*What is Unconscious Bias; considerations and top tips (2nd June 2014. Sandy Sparks University of Warwick, LDC, Research Active Staff & Vitae Hub co-ordinator.

**See the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

Aqua Art Miami and the Association of Women Art Dealers (AWAD) Form Special Collaboration for 2016 Edition

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

Aqua Art Miami and the Association of Women Art Dealers (AWAD) are pleased to announce our partnership for 2016.

Headquartered in London, AWAD is a non-profit trade network with three chapters: London, New York and Virtual. Providing a platform for meeting collaboratively-minded peers near and far, AWAD’s mission is to facilitate business between and for women art dealers.

With our collaboration, Aqua Art Miami 2016 will focus on ‘Women Gallerists’ by highlighting AWAD members within the fair, special projects curated by female gallerists as well as special programming and events listed below:

Friday, December 2, 2016 at Aqua Art Miami from 10:00am – 11:00am:
Aqua Art Miami will host a morning panel discussion addressing “Unconscious gender bias and the art world: What’s the reality for women art dealers, and what role do they have to play?” This conversation will be moderated by Susan Mumford, Founder and CEO of AWAD.

Friday, December 2, 2016 at Aqua Art Miami from 9:00pm – 11:00pm:
Aqua Art Miami will host AWAD’s annual gathering “Networking Cocktails on the Beach”. This private event will be an opportunity for Members and Friends of AWAD to mix and mingle in Aqua’s open courtyard.



The Association of Women Art Dealers (AWAD) was founded in London in 2010. In 2012, they introduced three levels of membership reflect their aim to support dealers at all stages of career: Full, Associate and StartUp. In 2014, they launched the now fully formed New York City Chapter. And in 2016, they launched the Virtual Chapter and also welcomed their first patron, Georgina Adam, art journalist and writer. With monthly meetings of all chapters, including the Virtual Chapter’s online sessions, they welcome applications from around the globe.

 Aqua Art Miami has consistently earned critical recognition for presenting vibrant and noteworthy international art programs with a particular interest in supporting young and established galleries with strong emerging and mid-career artists.

Aqua’s unique environment – in a classic South Beach hotel with spacious exhibition rooms that open onto a breezy, intimate courtyard – has become a favorite gathering spot for collectors, curators and art lovers to discover fresh talent and acquire new works while exchanging cultural ideas and forming meaningful connections.

Elisa Contemporary Art will exhibit at Aqua Art Miami (3-7 Dec)

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Elisa Contemporary Art will exhibit at Aqua Art Miami, Room 217 from 3 to 7 December, showing a selection of works by gallery artists including Carol Bennett whose work Hyacinthe (Periwinkle) is shown here courtesy of Elisa Contemporary Art.

This is Aqua Art Miami‘s tenth edition, its second since joining the Art Miami family of fairs. Aqua has consistently earned critical recognition for presenting vibrant and noteworthy international art programs with a particular interest in supporting young and established galleries with strong emerging and mid-career artists.

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