The Golden Canvas on feminist art and dating women for the first time
Meet the Golden Canvas. Ari Brochin is a New York City based artist who focuses on female-centric art, exploring different relevant societal and cultural conversations. Recently, Ari started dating women for the first time. Read on to deep dive with us on all things feminist art, finding your community, and how dating women is different than dating men.
Greta: Let's start out with you just telling me a little bit about yourself.
Ari: I’m Ari, I am a Brooklyn based artist in Bushwick. I’m 24 years old. My pronouns are she, her. I'm Sagitarrius and I have a little dog. I'm originally from New Jersey, but now I go home to Vermont, and I went to school for marketing in North Carolina. I have been working on the Golden Canvas full time for almost two years.
Greta: So you went to school for marketing. How did you decide that you wanted to pursue art?
Ari: I always wanted to be an artist, but people told me not to go to art school because it would “be a waste of money and time.” I always knew that I wasn't meant for a desk job. My ADHD could never. I started the Golden Canvas in college, and I loved hustling for myself and working for myself, and I realized that that's exactly what I wanted to do. I realized I could use my marketing skills to do that.
Greta: Love that. A lot of your art explores different themes of womanhood, and I would love to hear a little bit more about that and why you decided to make that a theme in a lot of your paintings.
Ari: My art navigates a bunch of different topics centering around women. A lot of it is standing up against the patriarchy and the way that women are treated in our society, in a 1960s pop art style. I like to show how the patriarchy and disadvantages that women experience today that were prevalent back in the 60s that have not gone away. That there are still very underlying, subtle forms of sexism that we experience literally every single day.
I have experienced these setbacks, no matter how subtle they are. Like, a gym coach telling me I throw like a girl, really subtle and simple things like that that have such a strong impact on me and other women and girls. Another one is the hyper sexualization of women, which is something that I've experienced my entire life starting middle school. The way I remember one time I got yelled at, this was in high school or something, I wore a t-shirt that you could see my bra underneath. Little things like that actually have such a deeper underlying meaning that have just stuck with me and impacted the way I act and perceive myself and thus my art.
Greta: I remember the dress code not sitting right with me because if you're taller, things look different on you and XYZ. And that always really pissed me off.
Ari: Right. It always pissed me off because like, let's not sexualize preteen and teenage girls. Let’s teach boys to respect their classmates, not to view them as a distraction.
Greta: Was there anything in particular that made you start wanting to talk about that through your art, or was it just a gradual building of things?
Ari: It was kind of a gradual building of things. I wanted to use my art as my voice to express my feelings and frustrations. That has always been something that I've been very passionate about, before I even knew I could express it through art.
Probably one of my favorite paintings I've ever done is this painting, “boys will be boys.” This is what we were talking about just a bit ago, how society teaches women to change rather than teaching boys to retrain the male gaze. We just excuse it as “boys will be boys.” So that's kind of like what this is about. It's two men talking about a woman, about her appearance, about who she is, and her just feeling upset and discouraged by it because, “boys will be boys.”
Greta: Thank you for sharing that. What has your experience been as a female entrepreneur in New York City?
Ari: It's been a whirlwind. As a woman, I do feel like sometimes it's my superpower and sometimes it's my biggest downfall. I think men naturally get more opportunities. Their work is seen as stronger. And I feel like as a woman, I have to work twice as hard. But, being a woman, I can sometimes use it to my advantage. I'm a female artist that talks about female empowerment and people want to see that. It's nice that in New York I have surrounded myself with other female entrepreneurs. That has been really empowering. But there definitely are times when I've felt that being a woman has been my biggest weakness.
Greta: How have you found that community? How did you find that community?
Ari: It really is such a cannon event. It just happens. I met one of my best friends because we were both invited to participate in this pop up that was centered around sustainability for Earth Day. She has a sustainable clothing line. We met and instantly became best friends. I met another one of my friends at an influencer event. I connected with another one through social media and met up one day. I definitely had to put myself in uncomfortable situations to make new friends that are chasing similar dreams. I would cold DM people being like, “hey, love your style,” things like that.
Greta: That's intimidating. But I feel like it's really paid off.
Ari: It has. It's really made a difference. I love my childhood friends and my college friends, but I am the only one that's running my own business. It feels very isolating and alienating a lot of the time. Being surrounded by people who are also entrepreneurs makes a world of a difference.
Greta: I know that you recently started dating women. Can you share how you came to the realization that you wanted to do that?
Ari: I’ve always known that I am sexually and romantically attracted to women, but it's something that I never really knew how to explore or express. I was never surrounded by queer people. I've never really been around a queer community. So I kind of suppressed those feelings. And then once I got to New York, I was like, I'm finally making my own community of creatives and queer people, that's who I feel most comfortable around.
I decided, I'm just going to go on a date with a girl and see how it goes. And doing that made me realize I prefer dating girls over guys. It's crazy that I just needed to take that initial step. That was the scariest part. Taking that first step and going on a date with a girl for the first time, I had no idea how to flirt with a girl. It's so scary, but so worth it.
Greta: How has dating women been different from dating men?
Ari: Oh, my God. First of all, dating women is not for the weak. They will break your goddamn heart. And it hurts deep. It cuts deep. The main difference I've noticed between dating girls and guys is that with dating a woman, there's this level of understanding, appreciation, and deep emotional connection. There's this level of bonding that you get from dating someone of the same sex and being with another woman. You have similar brains. There's such a level of comfortability that I didn't even realize I would have with women.
Greta: Yeah, that's really interesting. Can you give, like, one example?
Ari: A really simple example is that I feel comfortable getting ready and doing my makeup in front of a woman that I'm dating as opposed to doing that in front of a guy.
Greta: Wow, yeah. When I first started dating my boyfriend, I didn't want to get ready in front of him.
Ari: Same, and I did that one of the first days I met a girl.
Greta: Did you have a coming out moment with yourself or with your close friends and family, or do you feel like it was just kind of fluid?
Ari: It's a little bit of both. I don't really believe in coming out. I think it's a crazy concept.
Greta: Can you elaborate on that.
Ari: Why would I need to announce my sexuality? If straight people don't do it, why would I? I think it alienates the idea of being queer even more. But I did kind of gradually tell people. It really was the first time I went on a date with a girl, the first time I kissed a girl. That was kind of like my coming out story to people, to people that really had no idea. Really close friends and family knew, but outside of that it was like, “I went out with a girl, and now I like girls.” That was my coming out story.
Greta: Do you have any advice for other young women who are starting to date women for the first time or who are thinking they want to start dating women for the first time, and don't know how to go about it? Do you try to meet on Hinge? Do you try to meet in real life?
Ari: I wonder what I would tell myself. Just rip off the bandaid if you have this inkling that you want to do it. Don't hold yourself back out of fear of what people might think or say. And I would say try to insert yourself in more queer spaces, like gay bars and queer events. Once you become surrounded by the community, it feels comforting. Sometimes it's really hard to flirt with girls in person because if someone's not outwardly queer presenting, it can be hard to know if someone's queer or not.
Especially if you're not at a gay queer bar trying to figure out if someone's gay is like trying to win the lottery. Essentially what I'm trying to get at is, sometimes using dating apps can be easier for that reason. And just pulling the trigger on going on a date with someone from a dating app for the first time is a little bit easier than trying to approach someone at a bar.
Greta: Is there anything else you want to leave us with?
Ari: I'm happy we did this interview. I don't really talk a lot about my sexuality to people who don't ask. And I liked the transition. My background, my art, my sexuality- because that all encompasses my personality and who I am. You can't get me without all of those things.