What if I was born in the USA in the 1890’s. Marriage would not have been a necessity, but it would have been expected.
I would have taken French in the American schools. Art and writing hobbies for girls, would have been accepted. A trip to France -would have been seen as an educational venture. To broaden my perspective of the world. But when I chose to remain in Paris, my family would have shown some concern.
I would have drawn and written in the Cafes of Paris, and tried to sell my artwork to my fellow Americans. Of course never mentioning that my fluent french had been learned in their American schools. I would stay up until the early morning hours- hoping to find a male artist (a french citizen) with whom I could play house with. I would read my poems at parties, and paint on the grounds of castles. And of course, I would try to get an invitation to Monet’s house. To paint along side him as he was painting. The local Paris, artist’s contests would have been excluded to me, since I was a female.
I would learn how to mix the paint from the french artists, like a true artist.
When my visa ran out. I would make quick trips home, back to the USA, to stay with my parents. There I would get my massive stash of negatives printed. My parents would roll their eyes. They would be worried about my future. Women could not financially survive as an artist. But I did not listen. I would show and try to sell my photos to family friends. I would also try to sell collections of my poetry. I would most likely serve coffee in some city cafe. Where hopefully I could display my artwork.
Not looking for an American husband, and having parents who were set upon me finding one, I would probably meet someone . Someone who loved my paintings , photos and poems. Someone who would have me read my poetry at his parties, He would have me decorate both our and his friends houses with my paintings and photos. He would humor ,and support my trips to Paris. He would cherish my creativity, and the Paris fashions I sported. He would get a chuckle from my short stories. He would find the roles of the woman characters unreal, but he would tell me to dream. “What is life if you don’t dream” I would always tell him.
And when I said I did not want to have children. He would reply “Darling-Your children are scattered all over the walls of our and our friends houses,” I would smile, but of course I knew that since I loved him, if a baby did come. I would raise it. I would be praying that it was a girl. So she could finish my exploration of the world.
I know most artists want to be preserved in time. To be more than an artist, whose artwork is tossed into the local Goodwill. As a woman in this period it would be assumed that I was a eccentric female with a hobby. There would be nothing from stopping me from dreaming that some modern art collector would find my artwork. That he would then research me. That my daughter would post the article on my grave, and share it with her friends. Someone’s role in life does not prohibit them from chasing a dream. Crazy Van Gogh who never sold a painting in his lifetime, became one of the world’s most famous artist. A man who did not have a prominent role in society.