This week artist-activist Emma Shapiro talks with us about the exhausting liberation of being an art model, art censorship in social media, the belated recognition of women artists, the “original sin” of linking nudity with sex, and finding inspiration in a Walmart.
Emma Shapiro is an American artist, writer, and activist. After graduating from The Rhode Island School of Design in 2010 with a degree in painting, she moved to New York City where she worked full-time for 6 years as an art model. Inspired by her experience, she eventually began using her own body as her primary tool alongside photography, video, and layered projection. However, regular censorship of her artwork online and offline has driven Emma to become an activist against art censorship and censorship of the female-presenting body, and an advocate for visual artists’ involvement in digital rights. In 2017, in response to sexist censorship of her artwork, Emma created the Exposure Therapy Project which has since reached over 45 countries and promotes awareness and activism for body equality. Her writing has been published in the US and Europe, including regularly with Hyperallergic and The Art Newspaper, and since 2021, she has been the Editor-At-Large for the Don’t Delete Art campaign which fights against art censorship on social media. The Don’t Delete Art campaign is a collaboration between artists, the National Coalition Against Censorship’s Arts and Advocacy Program, Freemuse, and PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection — they have recently released their manifesto which demands that social media companies include artists in decision-making, and calls on powerful art institutions to speak out for the equal treatment of artists online. The manifesto has received over 2400 signatures from leading artists, organizations, and art workers.
Emma lives in Valencia, Spain, and collaborates with The Liminal Gallery. She recently won the Primer Premio d’Llibros Artisticas in Spain for her artists’ book “Cut Out”