Rossetti’s ‘Women’: The Artist On Her Beautiful Work That Questions Ugly Stereotypes

Carol Rossetti’s ‘Women’ series is making its way around the web and how! The 27 year old artist’s drawings have drawn praise for both her art style and the issues she chooses to address. Her work (as is obvious from the name) is women centric but addresses a host of issues from body positivity to making sexuality to simply making one’s own choices.

Rossetti’s drawings have appeared on pretty much every social media website from Tumblr to Facebook, showing the wide appeal of her art. On Facebook alone, her page has more 200,000 likes; a testament to how far she has managed to reach. Remember J. Howard Miller’s iconic ‘We Can Do It!’ poster from the 1940s? Rossetti’s brand of feminist politics and inspiration poster style is often compared to the figure, you know, the one flexing an arm in her denims and polka-dotted bandana. While Miller’s was wartime propaganda inviting women into the labour force, Rossetti’s artwork goes beyond a simple call to action and embraces a universal form of sisterhood. But if Miller’s poster moved the women of one country over sixty years ago, Rosetti’s work, riding the waves of the digital age, has resonated for women (and other people!) across the globe, of many ages and ethnicities.

“Although I’ve always had many references around me, I wasn’t consciously think about any of them when I started it,” responded Rosetti to the comparison. “I wasn’t even planning on starting a new big project or anything. I was really just practicing my technique with colored pencils and posting the drawings on my Facebook page, as I was already used to. This visibility was a total surprise!

Perhaps the very unplanned nature of the work has given it the flow and breathing space that so many women can identify with.

“I always liked to draw women,” she said. “I thought it would be good to say something nice while doing that.
Rossetti, whose native tongue is Spanish and who has lived in Belo Horizonte all her life, has seen her work translated into a multitude of languages, including Indian ones such as Hindi and Marathi. With such a wide reach, she is firm about the fact that she does not consider (as many do) feminism to be a ‘western’ concept. As she puts it: “Feminism is about equality and human rights and that should never be limited to one part of the world. I think different people from different places will fight differently and that we need to learn to balance culture and freedom…I think we need to acknowledge our differences and celebrate them instead of trying to make us uniform. We need to embrace our diversity and have equal rights of expression, self-expression and choices.

Feminism is at the core of many of her messages and drawings. Her Women series is known for its incredible diversity and inclusivity and as far as she is concerned, that is exactly the point.

“I don’t think there’s a single feminism. It’s a plural and diverse movement, with so many streams. I believe in intersectional feminism, I truly believe it has to be inclusive and everybody should feel welcome to join it. Not everybody thinks the same, but I believe we’re all trying to make the world a better place and people need to find a way to work together for that. So, I think we have a long way to make all fights for a better world more inclusive. We need to let people in.

Her message rings out loud and clear in her art. Apart from the one unifying factor that they are all women, there’s no other factor that connects them. Rossetti covers an incredibly astonishing range of topics and representation (something which many of today’s filmmakers and artists should take a look at) and she draws in from real life as well.

“Sometimes I would talk to people I knew, sometimes I would read statements and stories on the internet. I like to say that most of the characters are fictional, but the stories are real. I base my drawings in many different stories at once. I think that’s why it feels like it’s everybody’s stories. I came across many amazing stories and experiences, from people from so many different countries. It was truly amazing. I learned a lot, there were so many things I never knew people could feel. And I’d put most of them in my work.

It is perhaps because of this factor that her work resonates with so many people the way it does. If there is one line which sums up the entirety of the women series, it is best said by Rossetti herself: “feminism is also about freedom to make our own choices, to have our own faith, to express our own identity, and that’s not only valid when others agree with these choices.

And beyond these serious identities, is Carol Rossetti the chocolate lover. A graduate in graphic design, she runs a studio with two friends called Café com Chocolate Design in her home town of Belo Horizonte. “There’s nothing that wouldn’t get better with chocolate on it,” says Rosetti, and I think that’s something we can all agree with.

Carol Rossetti: Representing identities and choices, one poster at a time.

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