Women House: Femme Maisons

Questions about a woman’s “place” resonate in our culture, and conventional ideas about the house as a feminine space persist. Global artists in Women House recast conventional ideas about the home through provocative photographs, videos, sculptures, and room-like installations. Louise Bourgeois and Laurie Simmons conceptualize the female body as the archetypal form of home.

Louise Bourgeois, Femme Maison, 1994; White marble, 5 x 12 1/2 x 2 3/4 in.; Collection of Louise Bourgeois Trust; Art © The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY, Photo by Christopher Burke

Louise Bourgeois, Femme Maison, 1994

“Art is not about art. Art is about life, and that sums it up,” said Louise Bourgeois (b. 1911, Paris; d. 2010, New York City), whose traumatic childhood experiences informed much of her work. Bourgeois created her own formal language to express her emotions, returning to the same themes repeatedly throughout her career. One of her most common subjects were nude women whose heads have been replaced by houses, which address themes of domesticity and female identity. She first employed with this motif in the 1940s in a series of paintings titled “Femme Maisons” (women houses).

One of Bourgeois’s women houses on view is a small, snowy marble sculpture showing a woman seemingly stuck within the structure of a home. Her head dips toward the ground and her legs are positioned higher than her head. Her torso and arms are completely hidden, making the figure seem altogether immobile and positioned at what would be an uncomfortable angle.

Laurie Simmons, Walking House, 1989

Laurie Simmons, Walking House, 1989; Chromogenic print, 64 x 46 in.; Collection of Dr. Dana Beth Ardi; Photo courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York

Laurie Simmons (b. 1949, New York City) is best known for her eerie and unsettling photographs of anthropomorphized objects, particularly dolls, that explore the relationship between human and object in consumerist culture. Her series “Walking and Lying Objects” (1987–1991) features images of various everyday items fixed atop human legs. The first photograph in the series, Walking Camera I (Jimmy the Camera), features one of Simmons’s friends dressed in a camera costume. For her other photos, she attached doll legs to miniature household objects, including an hourglass, purse, and toilet.

In the large-scale photograph Walking House, a woman appears to have been consumed by a typical suburban home. Her only recognizably human features are her slender legs, which appear to be in motion. Simmons wanted the house on legs to represent an iconic American dream home. She says, “Starting in post-World War II America up to the present, the way a person lives is so identified with who that person is. We live in a blazingly consumer-oriented society, where the things around us control us, and I think these images are about the way a person can be subsumed by what’s around them.”

Both Walking House and Femme Maison conflate the female body with domestic architecture. In each work, the woman is inseparable from the house—both metaphorically and literally.

Visit the museum and explore Women House, on view through May 28, 2018.

—Kali Steinberg is the 2018 spring publications intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Women House: A Doll’s House

Questions about a woman’s “place” resonate in our culture, and conventional ideas about the house as a feminine space persist. Global artists in Women House recast conventional ideas about the home through provocative photographs, videos, sculptures, and room-like installations. Miriam Schapiro, Laure Tixier, and Rachel Whiteread use miniaturized depictions of the house and household objects to satirize stereotypical gender roles.

Miriam Schapiro, Dollhouse, 1972; Wood and mixed media, 79 3/4 x 82 x 8 1/2 in.; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Gene Davis Memorial Fund

Miriam Schapiro, Dollhouse, 1972

Miriam Schapiro (b. 1923, Toronto, Canada; d. 2015, Hampton Bays, New York) was a pioneer of the 1970s feminist art movement. Male-dominated art forms such as painting and sculpture were considered “high” art. Craftwork, traditionally created by women, was considered merely decorative. Schapiro and other feminist artists employed materials traditionally associated with craft into their art to elevate “women’s work.”

In 1972, Schapiro and Judy Chicago founded Womanhouse, a collaborative installation that challenged the dominant art historical narrative. Schapiro’s Dollhouse, first exhibited at Womanhouse, “combines the beauty, charm, and supposed safety and comfort of the home with the unnamable terrors existing within its walls.” In Shcapiro’s Dollhouse, a rattlesnake lurks in the parlor corner, men glower through the kitchen window, and a monster sleeps in a cradle. Schapiro turns a symbol of domesticity into a literal house of horrors. Schapiro also reverses the archetypal roles of male artist and objectified female model. In the artist’s studio, a nude male model stands on a wooden platform, while Schapiro herself assumes the role of artist.

Laure Tixier, Plaid Houses (Maquettes): Blue Japan House, Blue Art Deco House, Red Deconstructivist House, White Hut, Acid Green Dome House, Brown Usha Hut, Pink Tower, Turquoise Blue Colonial House (Barbados), Orange Breton House, 2005–11; Wool, felt, and thread, dimensions variable; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Les Amis du NMWA, Paris, France; © Laure Tixier

Laure Tixier, Plaid Houses, 2005–2011

Laure Tixier (b. 1972, Lichfield, England) combines childlike imagination with specific references to architectural history in her drawings, maquettes, and large scale sculptures of buildings. Plaid Houses is an eclectic neighborhood of miniature dwellings inspired by various cultures, including an art-deco house, a primitive yurt, and a minaret. In reference to blanket forts built by children, Tixier constructs her monochrome homes by stitching together pieces of fabric. Like blanket forts, these houses appear cozy and welcoming, despite the structural vulnerability of their textile walls. The drooping fabric makes the houses appear animated and alive, as if they “are bodies with a felt skin.” Tixier’s use of felt continues the feminist practice of blending craft with fine art, a practice now embraced by the contemporary art world.

Rachel Whiteread, Modern Chess Set, 2005

Using resin, metal, and plastic, Rachel Whiteread (b. 1962, London, England) creates casts of domestic interiors and furnishings. She often focuses on the negative space around and within objects and buildings to explore their physical relationships to the human body.

Rachel Whiteread, Modern Chess Set, 2005; Carpet, linoleum, plywood, beech, plasticized resins, foil, white metal, fabric, enamel, varnish, aluminum wire, brass, ink, chrome, gloss paint, metal wire, foam, and fabric handles, 26 3/8 x 26 3/8 x 1 1/8 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York; © Rachel Whiteread; Courtesy of the artist; Luhring Augustine, New York; Lorcan O’Neill, Rome; and Gagosian Gallery

Modern Chess Set was originally commissioned for a 2005 exhibition called The Art of Chess, which featured 10 unique chess sets created by contemporary artists, including Barbara Kruger and Yayoi Kusama. Whiteread created casts of her own childhood dollhouse furnishings for the chess set, turning a domestic space into a battleground where household objects are pitted against each other.

Visit the museum and explore Women House, on view through May 28, 2018.

—Kali Steinberg is the 2018 spring publications intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: May 11, 2018

On Tuesday, after nearly nine decades, Zora Neale Hurston’s story of a former slave was finally published.

When Hurston interviewed Cudjo Lewis in 1927, he was the last known living person who could recount first-hand the experience of having been taken captive in Africa and transported on a slave ship to the U.S.

Author Tayari Jones describes Hurston’s Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo as a “recovered masterpiece.” The Washington Post explores how Hurston’s story was blocked from publication by copyright protections. “Copyright laws rewritten by major corporations to preserve income from nearly century-old creations have all but erased a generation of less famous writers and unknown works by well-known writers.”

Front-Page Femmes

VICE highlights Cuban-born artist Ana Mendieta.

Yvette Coppersmith won the $100,000 Archibald prize for her self-portrait.

Diana Al-Hadid’s first major public art project, Delirious Matter, will be installed in Madison Square Park.

Artists and curators comment on the Baltimore Museum of Art’s decision to diversify its collection through recent acquisitions of works by women and artists of color and by deaccessioning repetitive works.

art21 films Valeska Soares working on her “Doubleface” series, in which the artist reworks 19th- and 20th-century portraits of women.

An early painting by Yayoi Kusama is expected to sell for between ten and seven million dollars—which would set a new record.

Ghada Amer’s work is “an iron fist in a velvet glove,” writes Hyperallergic.

Elizabeth Murray combines comic-book symbolism and domestic imagery in her crazily shaped canvases.

The privately owned Käthe Kollwitz Museum Berlin will move to a new site in west Berlin.

artnet highlights artists with ties to New York in the Brooklyn Museum’s display of the exhibition Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985.

Nancy Baker Cahill’s virtual works “feel like her shrapnel-like graphite drawings come to life.”

The American Ballet Theater announced a new initiative that supports women choreographers.

Transgender actress Daniela Vega discusses her role as a Chilean opera singer in the movie A Fantastic Woman.

Shows We Want to See

Louise Bourgeois: To Unravel a Torment, on view at Glenstone, features nearly 30 works. An accompanying catalogue includes previously unpublished diary entries by Bourgeois.  

Susan Meiselas: Meditations surveys the photographer’s work documenting life in conflict zones. Meiselas says, “I am directed by where I want to go, where I want to stay, where I want to go back to.”

Hyperallergic explores Dora De Larios’s clay sculptures, ceramic works, and art installations.

NO MAN’S LAND artist Marlene Dumas explores eroticism, the human condition, and love in her exhibition Myths & Mortals.

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial associate at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Women House: A Room of One’s Own

Questions about a woman’s “place” resonate in our culture, and conventional ideas about the house as a feminine space persist. Global artists in Women House recast conventional ideas about the home through provocative photographs, videos, sculptures, and room-like installations. Zanele Muholi, Francesca Woodman, and Claude Cahun reimagine the domestic space as a source of inspiration and self-reinvention.

Zanele Muholi, Katlego Mashiloane and Nosipho Lavuta, ext.2, Lakeside, Johannesburg, 2007; Lambda print, 30 1/8 x 29 3/4 in.; Private collection

Zanele Muholi, Katlego Mashiloane and Nosipho Lavuta, ext. 2, Lakeside, Johannesburg, 2007

“At present South Africa has no anti-hate-crime legislation. Rampant hate crimes make us invisible. Coming out exposes us to the harshness of patriarchal compliance. We are also at risk when we challenge the norms of compulsory heterosexuality,” says Zanele Muholi (b. 1972 Umlazi, Durban, South Africa).

Muholi combines art and activism to bring awareness to violence against the LGBTQ community in South Africa. By capturing her subjects in moments of intimacy and affection, she emphasizes their humanity. Nestled into the corner of their kitchen, the couple in this photograph are concealed from the violence and hatred of the outside world. Their home is a liberating space in which they can express themselves.

Francesca Woodman, space², Providence, Rhode Island, 1975–78, 2000–01; Gelatin silver print on barite paper, 10 x 8 in.; © George and Betty Woodman, New York / The SAMMLUNG VERBUND Collection, Vienna

Francesca Woodman, space², Providence, Rhode Island, 1975–78, 2000–01

While studying at the Rhode Island School of Design, Francesca Woodman (b. 1958, Denver, Colorado; d. 1981, New York City) set up a photography studio in a dilapidated room above a dry goods store. Woodman incorporated her decaying surroundings into her self-portraits. Using the space’s crumbled moldings and peeled wallpaper, she explored the relationship between the body and the built environment.

In space², Providence, Rhode Island, Woodman covers her face and part of her nude body with pieces of wallpaper. Her ghostly figure seems to fade into or emerge from the wall, making her part of the space.

Claude Cahun, Self-Portrait (in a cupboard), 1932; Digital reprint of vintage gelatin silver print, 4 ⅜ x 3 ⅜ in.; Courtesy Jersey Heritage Collections

Claude Cahun, Self-Portrait (in a cupboard), 1932

“Under this mask, another mask; I will never finish removing all these faces,” said Claude Cahun (b. 1894, Nantes, France; d. 1954, St. Helier, Jersey). Challenging the concept of a fixed identity, Cahun adopted various personas to explore notions of gender, self, and reality. Using makeup, costumes, and a Surrealist visual language, Cahun flowed between masculine and feminine identities in her photographs, embracing ambiguity and androgyny. While her male Surrealist contemporaries objectified the female form, Cahun subverted traditional perceptions of gendered bodies. Her characters invite viewers to question perception and reality.

For Self-Portrait (in a cupboard), Cahun assumed the role of a young girl. She appears asleep and tucked away onto the shelf of a cupboard—perhaps during a game of hide-and-seek. The cupboard, though an unusual place to nap, is a quiet sanctuary that Cahun has claimed as her own.

Visit the museum and explore Women House, on view through May 28, 2018.

—Kali Steinberg is the 2018 spring publications intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: May 4, 2018

The New York Times profiles Women House artist Laurie Simmons about her body of work, and how her children (including her daughter, Lena Dunham) have influenced her.

“I’m way more influenced by my children than I was by my parents,” says Simmons. “At the risk of sounding like a big fat cliché, they’re my teachers now. They’re my conduit to the 21st century.” Simmons’s work is currently on view in the NMWA exhibition Women House.

Front-Page Femmes

Zadie Smith profiles Deana Lawson through a close examination of her powerful photographs.

Iranian photographer Fatemeh Behboudi documents Iranian life and culture while fighting “the patriarchal views of the media.”

Ali Wong tackles family life, childbirth, and gender stereotypes in her comedy routines.

Primahood: Magenta chronicles author Tyler Cohen’s efforts to raise her daughter as a feminist.

Self-taught artist Charlotte Amelia Poe received the Spectrum Art Prize for her short film How To Be Autistic.

Director Haifaa Al Mansour’s films focus on recent cultural and social reforms in Saudi Arabia.

An upcoming art fair in Brooklyn and a Johannesburg residency provide African women with opportunities to break into the art world.

How Pippa Became the Queen of the Ocean, illustrated by Chervelle Fryer, is the first children’s book made from recycled ocean waste.

Betty: They Say I’m Different explores Betty Davis’s short career, her disappearance from the music scene in the 1980s, and her lasting influence.

RBG, a new documentary, reflects on the life and achievements of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The We Have Voices Collective, a group of female and non-binary jazz musicians, released a Code of Conduct to promote workplace equity.

artnet highlights five women artists who dominated Berlin’s Gallery Weekend.

Shows We Want to See

Alison Saar draws from the artistic conventions of various cultures to explore the African American experience and current political climate. Alison Saar: Topsy Turvy is on view at LA Louver.

Dancing on the Edge of the Abys, on view at the Columbus Museum, features abstract works by African American women artists, including Alma Thomas and Howardena Pindell.

Moon Dancers: Yup’ik Masks and the Surrealists at New York’s Di Donna Galleries sheds light on now Native Alaskan culture influenced well-known Surrealists.

In June, the Clark Art Institute opens two new exhibitions featuring women artists. Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900 showcases work by well-known artists, including Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt, alongside artists less recognizable to US audiences, such as Louise Breslau and Anna Ancher. The museum will also showcase six immersive projections by Los Angeles-based media and installation artist Jennifer Steinkamp.

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial associate at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Women House: Mobile Homes

Questions about a woman’s “place” resonate in our culture, and conventional ideas about the house as a feminine space persist. Global artists in Women House recast conventional ideas about the home through provocative photographs, videos, sculptures, and room-like installations. Lucy Orta, Nil Yalter, and Sue Williamson re-frame the notion of home and community in the context of nomadism and exile.

Installation view of Lucy Orta, Body Architecture—Collective Wear 4 Persons, 1996; Aluminum-coated polyamide, microporous polyester, telescopic aluminum armatures, and grip soles; Courtesy of Lucy + Jorge Orta; Photo: Traci Christensen, NMWA

Lucy Orta, Body Architecture—Collective Wear 4 Persons, 1996

In 1992, Lucy Orta’s (b. 1966, Sutton Coldfield, England) “Body Architecture” series (1992–98)  examines individual and communal space. Body Architecture—Collective Wear 4 Persons is simultaneously a sculpture with a pointed social statement, four individual wearable garments, and a movable home.

The lightweight tent consists of four body suits zipped together and can easily be assembled and disassembled at will. Individuals could wear the garments and move around independently, but they can also come together to combine their suits to create a shared living space. The union of individual garments into a shelter emphasizes the importance of community to survival. Orta’s prototype dwelling brings awareness to social issues such as poverty, homelessness, and immigration.

Nil Yalter, Topak Ev, 1973; Metal structure, felt, lambskin, leather, text, and mixed media, installation view, 98 x 118 in.; Vehbi Koç Foundation Contemporary Art Collection

Nil Yalter, Topak EV, 1973

“Through didactic use of craft skills, using felt, goat hair and sheep skins brought back from Turkey, I developed a physical climate based on a deep awareness of ethnology, the sociology of customs and beliefs,” says Nil Yalter (b. 1938 Cairo, Egypt). Voluntarily exiled in France since the 1960s, Yalter began to incorporate anthropological themes into her work in the early 1970s.

Yalter explores physical and metaphorical female space in her work. Topak EV is modeled after an Anatolian yurt, a portable abode used by nomadic cultures. Decorated by women for a future bride, the yurt symbolizes socially constructed female traits such as fertility and domesticity. Yalter notes, “the women who build these round tents in the shape of a womb practically spend their whole lives inside of them, sheltered from the real world outside.”

Installation view of Sue Williamson, What About El Max? V (Tell Your People—Close Up), 2005; Pigments inks on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper; Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery; Photo: Traci Christensen, NMWA

Sue Williamson, What About El Max? V (Tell Your People—Close Up), 2005

Cape Town-based artist Sue Williamson (b. 1941, Lichfield, England) uses politically charged photographs as a conduit for cultural resistance, highlighting the issues marginalized communities face.

What About El Max? V (Tell Your People—Close Up) is one of 11 photographs from a series that documents a mural program Williamson initiated in El Max, a small fishing village in Alexandria, Egypt. She collaborated with residents, who have been threatened with eviction by the military stationed near the harbor. The texts painted on the town’s walls express the community’s shared connection to their homes and their desire to remain. The painted phrase “Tell your people this place is perfect” expresses devotion to the community and resistance to expulsion.

Visit the museum and explore Women House, on view through May 28, 2018.

—Kali Steinberg is the 2018 spring publications intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: April 27, 2018

Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing created a memorial to suffragist Millicent Fawcett, making it the first statue of a woman in London’s Parliament Square.

The Guardian writes, “The sculptures that adorn our public spaces matter. It is time for women—and not just the semi-naked women who are sculpted as allegories for Justice or Peace—to become part of the grammar of our streets.” The BBC explains that less than 3% of statues in the United Kingdom are of women.

Front-Page Femmes

Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid requests that galleries showing her work reach out to black artists nearby to include in programs alongside her exhibitions.

New York Magazine’s The Cut explores questions surrounding the nude female form as a subject for male artists in an article titled “Who’s Afraid of the Female Nude?

Chicana photographer Laura Aguilar died at the age of 58.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago announced the first ever winner of the Dunya Contemporary Art Prize, which aims to increase exposure for Middle Eastern artists. The winner, Qatari-American artist Sophia Al-Maria, received $100,000 and a new MCA commission.

What do Queen Elizabeth I and Frida Kahlo have in common? The Art Newspaper shares parallels in their lives by looking at portraits of the two figures.

Anicka Yi shares challenges she’s faced as a woman artist. “I could be the President of the United States, and still half the people in the room would question my authority,” she says.

Smithsonian interviews Amy Sherald about painting Michelle Obama’s portrait in a new podcast episode.

Artist Hope Gangloff captures the personalities of her friends and family in brightly colored large-scale portraits.

A new Barbie inspired by Frida Kahlo has been banned from sale in Mexico.

Rachel Kushner explored life inside a California prison for her third novel, The Mars Room.

SNL actress Aidy Bryant will star in a comedy series based on Lindy West’s book Shrill.

Published in 1983 but recently reprinted, How to Suppress Women’s Writing outlines the obstacles women in literature have faced throughout history.

Hulu begins the second season of the dystopian series The Handmaid’s Tale, adapted from the Margaret Atwood novel.

Shows We Want to See

Ethiopian artist Aïda Muluneh subverts stereotypes of Africa perpetuated by Western media. “I’m trying to share my heritage but also to show the universality of people around the world,” says Muluneh. Her photography is currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art.

In an interview with Apollo Magazine, artist Huma Bhabha discusses her large-scale bronze sculptures installed on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Cantor Roof.

Corita Kent: Get With The Action is on display at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft in England. “We live in a time when popular action seems complicated and confusing; and Kent’s simple, heartfelt message rings down the decades,” writes the Guardian.

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial associate at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Women House: Desperate Housewives

Questions about a woman’s “place” resonate in our culture, and conventional ideas about the house as a feminine space persist. Global artists in Women House recast conventional ideas about the home through provocative photographs, videos, sculptures, and room-like installations. Martha Rosler, Cindy Sherman, and Karin Mack use cliché and irony in their photographs to deconstruct stereotypes of women as submissive housewives.

Installation view of Martha Rosler, Woman with Vacuum, or Vacuuming Pop Art , 1965–74; Photomontage; Private collection

Martha Rosler, Woman with Vacuum, or Vacuuming Pop Art, 1965–74

Martha Rosler (b. 1943, Brooklyn, New York) constructed Woman with Vacuum, or Vacuuming Pop Art with images clipped from magazine advertisements which engaged in “shameless stereotyping.” Rosler says, “I felt that the emergent pop painters also repeated those tropes but always denied any depth of social critique beyond an ironic wink.”

The smiling woman in the photomontage appears content. Although she is vacuuming, her clothes are crisp and her hair is styled. She is both a hardworking housewife who is happy to serve and an object for the male gaze. While the smile plastered on the woman’s face coupled with the bright colors of the art on the walls radiate cheerfulness, the narrow hallway is suffocating and restrictive—almost cage-like. Whether or not she is resigned to her role as housewife, the woman cannot escape.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #35, 1979; Gelatin silver print, 15 7/8 x 12 3/8 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #35, 1979

Drawing from pop-culture clichés, Cindy Sherman (b. 1954, Glen Ridge, New Jersey) explores notions of femininity and the construction of identity. In a series of photographs created from 1977 to 1980, Sherman evokes familiar images of women in stereotypical film roles, ranging from seductive bombshell, to subservient housewife, and ingénue.

The subject of her own photographs, Sherman uses wigs, costumes, and makeup to embody each character. Untitled Film Still #35 depicts a young woman wearing a dress, apron, and headscarf. She seems frustrated and dissatisfied with her limited role as a housewife, representing a stark contrast to the figure in Rosler’s work. Sherman says, “I definitely felt that the characters were questioning something—perhaps being forced into a certain role.”

Karin Mack, Bügeltraum (Iron Dream), 1975

Installation view of Karin Mack, Bügeltraum (Iron Dream), 1975; Black-and-white photographs
© Karin Mack / The SAMMLUNG VERBUND Collection, Vienna

Woman and ironing board become one in Bügeltraum (Iron Dream), a series of four black-and-white photographs by Karin Mack (b. 1940, Vienna, Austria). The artist, dressed in a black shirt and jeans, irons a gingham cloth. By the third image, Mack trades her casual outfit for a black dress and the cloth becomes a sheer black veil. In the final photograph, Mack lays on top of the ironing board with the veil draped over her head, symbolizing the death of the housewife.

Her body becomes part of the ironing board, highlighting her identity as an object rather than a person with agency. Mack’s subversive work underscores the struggles of many women artists in the 1970s who found their role as homemaker monotonous and often an obstacle to being taken seriously in a male-dominated art world.

Visit the museum and explore Women House, on view through May 28, 2018.

—Kali Steinberg is the 2018 spring publications intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

5 Fast Facts: Tanja Rector

Impress your friends with five fast facts about artist Tanja Rector (b. 1966), whose work is on view in NMWA’s collection galleries.

1. Road Trip

Tanja Rector, born in Amsterdam, currently lives and works in Los Angeles. Fascinated by the topography of her adopted home, the artist created a series of abstracted landscape paintings that reflect the hills, valleys, highways, and waterways of the western United States.

Tanja Rector, Girl with a Pearl Earring (Vermeer Series), 1998; Oil and wax on panel, 15 x 13 1/4 x 2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of The Heather and Tony Podesta Collection; © Tanja Rector

2. Thinly Veiled Shout Outs

Eleven mixed-media works in NMWA’s collection by Rector feature reproductions of paintings by 15th and 16th century European artists Giovanni Bellini, Dieric Bouts, Robert Campin, Petrus Christus, and Johannes Vermeer. Rector obscured the works of these male artists through her artistic process of coating them with cloudy layers of wax.

3. Paper Cut

In 2007, Rector created Chair-Table-Wall Composition, a large cascading sculpture made from white paper, cut into organic shapes, and joined by thread and paperclips. When finished, the work measured 168 by 60 by 120 inches. Rector made this work in search for silence through “women’s work” and “slow work.”

Tanja Rector, Preserve, 1988; Mixed media, 10 3/4 x 6 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of the Tony Podesta Collection; © Tanja Rector

4. Perfectly Preserved

In Preserve (1988), Rector encases translucent photographs of a demure woman—wearing a 1950s-style housedress, clasping her hands, gazing downward toward bare feet—inside sealed glass jars. Through associations like canning to slow food spoilage and capturing creatures for personal enjoyment, Preserve challenges humans’ desire to control time and nature.

5. Cameo Appearances

Rector founded Spot Orange Design, which creates art for the film and television industry. Her work decorates the sets of movies including White Oleander and The Hangover and the television shows CSI and House.

—Adrienne L. Gayoso is the senior educator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: April 20, 2018

Time released its annual “Time 100” list, which highlights a group of the most influential artists, leaders, and pioneers. This year’s list included feminist artist Judy Chicago.

Emmy-winning television director Jill Soloway writes a tribute to Chicago, saying, “Her moment is finally here again, and everyone can see she is our legacy, our great, our modern Frida, the should-have-been Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol or whatever men got credited with inventing everything.”

Actresses Nicole Kidman, Gal Gadot, Millie Bobby Brown, Lena Waithe, and Deepika Padukone are among the included artists. Issa Rae, Jesmyn Ward, Tiffany Haddish, and Cardi B. are also featured in the 45 women chosen.

Front-Page Femmes

Hyperallergic explores the relationship and artistic legacies of Anna Klumpke and Rosa Bonheur.

Mary Frances Dondelinger creates bowls, vases, and statues that tell an alternative history of ancient art—suggesting a more gender-equal society.

Photographer Laura Aguilar “portrays her subjects with a tenderness that makes them seem like friends, and with the attention of someone who really sees them.”

Mandy Barker documents plastic debris collected from the world’s oceans and beaches.

The podcast What Artists Listen To asks women artists about how music impacts their work and their lives outside the studio.

Cambodian artist Tith Kanitha weaves together steel wire to create “endlessly suggestive” sculptures.

Singer and civil rights activist Marian Anderson will appear on the new $5 bill in 2020.

Beyoncé became the first black woman to headline Coachella. The New Yorker calls her performance “an education in black expression.”

New York Times Magazine profiles Janelle Monáe in advance of the release of her new album, Dirty Computer.

Tracy K. Smith and Jacqueline Woodson talk about reading, poetry, race, and the importance of literature.

In cartoonist Eleanor Davis’s book Why Art?, the audience is “allowed, for an instant, to linger in the liminal space between created and creator.”

BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic is a poetry anthology featuring more than 60 writers who “challenge ideals modeled in the image of white supremacy.”

The live-action remake of the Disney film Mulan will feature all-Asian cast.

Artforum highlights Barbara Hammer, a 78-year-old pioneer of experimental queer cinema who has produced nearly 90 films.

Shows We Want to See

Shinique Smith brings awareness to the global epidemic of poverty and homelessness by incorporating found clothing and discarded objects into her sculptures and installations. Refuge is on view at the California African American Museum (CAAM).

Faith Ringgold discusses social justice and the inspiration behind her works in Faith Ringgold: Paintings and Story Quilts, 1964-2017, on display at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery in London.

Glenstone Museum will present the first public exhibition of Louise Bourgeois’s previously unpublished diary entries.

Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions, 1965–2016, on view at MoMA, “seeks to expose the public’s passive acceptance of racism, sexism, and xenophobia.”

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial associate at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.