“Once you open the door to curiosity about certain topics, it’s very difficult to turn back. You can keep seeing the same ‘machista’ material, the same misogynistic television programs, but now you’ll see them through different eyes.”
So says Flo Meije, one of the many young Argentine artists and illustrators living and working here in Buenos Aires. Having studied Visual Arts at the Universidad del Museo Social Argentino in 2007, she went on to undertake a course in Creative Advertising at Brother Escuela de Creativos. Since completing the course back in 2015, she’s been using social media to promote not only her art as a creation but also the feminist messages it conveys.
Flo’s artwork combines collage and illustrative embellishments with eye-catching, tongue-in-cheek results (check it out here). She has always liked illustration, but after completing her formal education, she found herself drawn to collage, a skill which, as she points out, we all learn during kindergarten.
But it is this simplicity which gives her work such power. There is something improvisational and organic about her pieces, which lends a certain sincerity to her work, while it also packs a satirical punch: she takes images directly from other sources and parodies them, placing them in an unfamiliar – and often ridiculing – context. Using Instagram seems to be a particularly effective way of sharing her artwork online, as it appeals to a generation not only obsessed with aesthetic but, more recently, with educating themselves about current social issues (yes, that was a long-winded way of saying we try to stay #woke).
Toda esta presión se siente genial. #saludmental #mentalhealth #hagoloquepuedo #massensiblequelamierda #iamtrying #therock #feelinggood #great #sintiendomejoya #ansiedad #anxiety #pressure #depression #collage #dailyillustration #dailycollage #dailyart #feelingfeelings #instaart #woman #womenwhodraw #feminismo #feminist #artlikeagirl #drawlikeagirl
At university, it was her feeling that her teachers were missing a trick: “It seemed to me that they weren’t clued in when it came to using social media to showcase our artwork.” Indeed, though her university studies gave her a comprehensive academic education in terms of artistic technique and art history, Flo felt that ensuring students eventually made a living from their art was not the priority. And, while getting students a career was certainly the aim at Brother, she was not interested in pursuing a job in marketing. Her professional determination seems to come primarily from within: “It’s a case of overcoming fear,” she claims. “Once you have a clear artistic motive, it’s about putting yourself out there, going to exhibitions, participating in art fairs and competitions, and reaching out to artists whose work you admire.” A key step in achieving these aims, she believes, is sharing her art through social media.
It certainly works. Last week, Flo organized her own art exhibition, “Expo Art Like a Girl,” which was held at Avenida Córdoba’s Feliza bar and cultural club; social media proved to be an invaluable tool, not only for reaching out to fellow artists but also for the promotion of the event itself. The exhibition featured her own work as well as that of local feminist artists Chinaocho, Jazmín Pastela, Flor Infante, Teutei, and Eugendibuja. And, just like their Instagram accounts, the purpose of the exhibition was both to showcase (and, of course, sell) their work, and to spread the ideals of the movement of which they consider themselves to form part. “Expo Art Like a Girl” was, in a way, an assertion of solidarity that would foreshadow the protest for legalizing abortion that took place in the city a few days later. Over a thousand women and allies joined together in front of Congress to fight for their rights, their attendance no doubt encouraged by the promotion of the event through social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Una publicación compartida de Flo Meije (@flomeije) el Feb 19, 2018 at 8:08 PST
As demonstrated by the #MeToo hashtag, which went viral in October of last year, social media can and is used to raise awareness of issues such as sexual assault and harassment. Argentina’s #NiUnaMenos, much like Mexico’s #NiUnaMas, is further proof of how social media can be used as a tool to unite victims and activists alike, and to organize their events and propositions. For Flo, social media is a particularly important platform for the expression of feminist concerns because it was there that she came across the term for the first time. It was a relief to discover a movement which gives voice to the issues that had troubled her throughout her adolescence. Growing up in Argentina, she experienced plenty of sexism, mostly in the form of harassment, from cat-calling to men following her along the street in their cars – much like most women throughout their lifetime.
This kind of behavior is rife here, with the #NiUnaMenos movement informing how every 30 hours, a woman is murdered in Argentina simply for being a woman – a clear indication of the prevalence of misogynistic attitudes. Things are slowly improving, she concedes; however, the problem is that young men are not made to feel that this kind of behavior is condemned by the society in which they live. So, when asked how effective she thinks social media is in having a positive influence on girls and young women, she answers by underlining the importance of engaging all members of society, both male and female.
However, while social media is an excellent tool for educating people, it is ultimately down to us which accounts we follow and therefore, to some degree, the information to which we are exposed. Perhaps social media can, at the very least, empower those already interested in feminist preoccupations. With a legion of 21k followers and counting, Flo and her fellow artists are reaching out to people all over the country and beyond.
Flo will be selling fanzines and prints at “¡Vamos las pibas!,” an art fair for female cartoonists and illustrators at Feliza bar and cultural club (you can find the event here). Give her and her fellow artists an Instagram follow to add some good-looking girl-power to your feed and, of course, so as not to miss out on future exhibitions. With International Women’s Day coming up on March 8th, you have all the more reason to join the cause!