Women On Top: Rosaline Zhang
Rosaline Zhang is a California-based artist who runs a “feminist gift shop” called LittleWomanGoods on Etsy.
When did you first get into art?
To be honest, I’m not really sure! I went to a terrible chain weekend art class as a kid, but I never enjoyed it and thought that meant I probably wasn’t meant to be an artist. When I was 17, I applied to one art school—the Rhode Island School of Design—as sort of a shot in the dark, and then when I was accepted I was incredulous, but I went!
Has your art always been primarily about female empowerment?
No, but it has always evolved around femininity. I think it really evolved from a formal, technical attraction to the female figure. When I was in art school, we’d have a figure model (normally a woman) in the studio sometimes up to 8 hours a day, nearly every day. So even if you weren’t working from the model, she’d be there in your line of sight constantly. When you spend that much time in a serious environment next to a nude person, their nudity stops being sexual very quickly and just becomes interesting visually.
There’s a tradition in visual arts of the nude female figure being designed for the consumption of men—I wanted to really make images that reclaimed the female figure for the “consumption” of women.
I love this part of your bio: “I try to make objects about tenderness which are strong but sweet.” Has this always been your end goal with your art?
Yes. Certainly I am visually drawn to an aesthetic that’s dreamy, sentimental, emotional, romantic… but I think that can also be done in a manner that is assertive and powerful. And I think a dreamy, sentimental, emotional, romantic woman can also be a woman who is assertive and powerful.
What’s the best part about running your Etsy shop?
I love getting positive feedback! Whenever my phone buzzes I hope it’s a notification for shop feedback.
Actually, as I was writing this response, I got this note: “Hi, I love your stickers. I’m putting them on all of my guitars. As a straight guy, I don’t know if it’s very meaningful, but I’m a feminist.”
Yeah, it’s super meaningful to me!
What’s the most difficult part?
The post office.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?
My great-grandmother. She had bound feet. She died when I was 11 so I only knew her briefly, but I’ve thought about her constantly since then.
All pictures courtesy Rosaline Zhang.