For 18-year-old Vanessa Machin, curating her own art show symbolized her independence as a young woman. The show's theme on femininity took that message one step further.
The San Dieguito Academy senior presented "Femininity and Coming of Age" on June 3 at the Performing Arts Workshop in Encinitas.
"As a young female artist, it's difficult to get exposure and to get recognition for what you make," said Machin, who lives in Village Park. "I was talking to people about this show when I first started thinking about it, and they said it sounded too niche. I think sharing your story should never be niche. It's really important that there's a place for girls to express themselves and show how talented they are."
The gallery featured about a dozen local, emerging, young female artists, many of whom also go to SDA or who Machin follows on Instagram.
Growing up, Machin turned to art as a constant in her life, which consisted of frequently moving with her family. In high school, she discovered a passion for painting that explores the concepts of life and death, as well as how masculinity and femininity work together.
The Village Park girl considered curating the show, especially as a teenager, as "challenging" but worth it in the end.
"I'm very serious about art," she said. "It's been a challenge, for sure. I did all the posters and marketing. Finding a space and finding all the artists, it's definitely been challenging but it's so rewarding seeing people here and appreciating what all these really talented young girls made."
Machin — who curated a similar, smaller-scale show at her school earlier this year — considers now an important time for females of all ages to express themselves. She noted the #metoo movement, which has brought attention to sexual assault and harassment, as well as struggles for women in general in today's political climate.
"Seeing how people respond to that kind of stuff definitely shows you that although we live in a community that kind of prides itself on being progressive, there's still definitely people who are a little bit ignorant and don't think in a way that's inclusive," she said.
Each piece in the show featured strong feminist themes and symbols representing the female and male anatomies, like flowers and snakes.
Bridget Brightfield, a 17-year-old junior at SDA and participating artist, said she always enjoys working with Machin, but exploring femininity made her decision an even simpler choice.
"Everything I make naturally relates to femininity," the Village Park girl said. "To be able to express yourself in that manner, in an environment like this, is really valuable. I feel like a lot of girl artists don't get a lot of opportunities. We've been talking about how museum culture is slowly being appropriated and we're excited about it because it means more attention to it and makes it better for us in the future."