This one goes out to all the girls who have their head stuck in the clouds: You guys are on to something. Today, United Airlines announced that they are dedicating some serious real estate to female artists in the form of two Boeing 757 planes, bringing their artistic vision in the sky.
Fifty-one percent of artists are women, yet less than 13 percent of art on display in museums is by female artists. United is hoping to help correct this industry-wide problem: They launched Her Art Here this spring, a contest that encouraged cisgender, transgender, woman-aligned, and non-binary people to submit original designs to appear on the outside body of a United jet. A panel of judges, comprised of United’s top execs, picked two winners (one who hails from the East Coast and one from the West Coast), Corinne Antonelli and Tsungwei Moo. With the help of internationally-praised visual artist Shantell Martin, each women will get to recreate their masterpieces on the body of a twin-engine airliner. The plane (roughly 3,666 times larger than a traditional canvas) will fly year-round, covering approximately 1.6 million miles in distance over nearly 500 cross-country trips, giving the winners major exposure.
Both deserve it: New Jersey native and Ringling College of Art and Design student Antonelli, who won for the East Coast division, decided to enter the competition to help inspire other women to pursue art as a career. “I wanted to be able to set that example,” she says. “I felt a lot of pressure from the stereotype that girls in art can’t have a successful career. I want people to know that that’s not true.” For West Coast winner, Moo, who emigrated to San Francisco from Taiwan on a United plane at age 14 and has been building up a body of the work in the city since, it was the opportunity to get even more female artists in the game. “Female artists have been working on gender equality representation for decades,” she says. “We are halfway there. It’s our generation of female artists that will be responsible to make this happen, to let the world see more works by women.”
For both winners, the competition was more than just seeing their work in the sky. It was also about encouraging every girl out there to feel empowered to do the same. According to their mentor Martin, “We need more prospective, more exposure, more viewpoints. It's clear to see what is happening around the round without them. This is a small part we all can play.”
If you ever needed another excuse to book a trip, this is it: Starting October 2019, you could actually fly in one of the beautifully decorated planes. Talk about traveling in style.
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Megan DiTrolio is the editor of features and special projects at Marie Claire, where she oversees all career coverage and writes and edits stories on women’s issues, politics, cultural trends, and more. In addition to editing feature stories, she programs Marie Claire’s annual Power Trip conference and Marie Claire’s Getting Down To Business Instagram Live franchise.
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