Art Fix Friday: February 21, 2020

This famous photograph depicts Zobeida Díaz on her way to the market, carrying the iguanas she will sell on her head. Iturbide photographs Díaz from below to create a sense of authority; at this angle, Díaz becomes larger than life. Iturbide frames her in a dignified pose within an archway. The iguanas, an important cultural symbol of the Zapotec, encircle her head like a halo. It is an image of reverence for Zapotec women.

Graciela Iturbide, Nuestra Señora de las Iguanas (Our Lady of the Iguanas), Juchitán, 1979; Gelatin silver print, 10 x 8 in.; Collection of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser; © Graciela Iturbide; Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Artsy re-examines Graciela Iturbide’s iconic photograph Nuestra Señora de las Iguanas (Our Lady of the Iguanas) (1979). The author, Eva Recinos, a first generation Guatemalan American, discusses her personal ties to the work as well as its lasting impact on the representation of indigenous people in the history of photography. She writes, “[the photo] became a motivation for me—to keep mining my own personal history; to see the validity in my narratives, as both a writer and an art lover.”

Nuestra Señora de las Iguanas, along with 140 other photographs by Iturbide, will be on view in Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico at NMWA from February 28 to May 25.

Front-Page Femmes

Patrisse Cullors, artist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, talks to Frieze about her collective dance performance for Frieze Projects Los Angeles.

For the New York Times, Director Cathy Yan breaks down a key sequence from her film Birds of Prey.

Frieze reviews Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Director Céline Sciamma’s lesbian period drama that employs the myth of Orpheus to re-center the female gaze.

Artsy profiles Mariane Ibrahim, the young art dealer championing art from the African Diaspora.

T Magazine examines the tales of female trios in literature in pop culture; the magazine also commissioned original works by artists Chantal Joffe and Chioma Ebinama to accompany the essay.

NMWA’s current exhibition Delita Martin: Calling Down the Spirits was reviewed by and BmoreArt and Hyperallergic, which described the works as “courageous explorations about the power and vulnerability of our relationships with seen and unseen worlds.”

An abstract painting of two woman, one older, one younger, sitting across from one another in chairs. Their figures are overlaid with patterns and the background features two prominent orange circles. The major hues of the painting are different shades of blue.

Delita Martin, The Moon and the Little Bird, 2018; Acrylic, charcoal, gelatin printing, collagraph printing, relief printing, decorative papers, hand-stitching, and liquid gold leaf on paper, 79 x 102 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Myrtis; Photo by Joshua Asante

Artist Felicty Hammond’s open letter to the now-bankrupt Dutch art fair Unseen has ignited important conversations about the routine exploitation of artists.

Conceptual artist Barbara Kruger has installed politically charged banners, billboards, and stickers across Los Angeles for the city’s Frieze art fair.

Frieze profiles Ja’Tovia Gary and her inaugural show, flesh that needs to be loved, which features her compelling audio-visual portraits.

Hyperallergic interviews artist Pilar Castillo, who investigates the role of “tropical romanticism” in Caribbean identity and representation.

Afghan artist Robaba Mohammadi has opened an art center dedicated to training other disabled artists.

Shows We Want to See

The Soul (Un)Gendered: Anupam Sud, A Retrospective at New York City’s DAG Modern is the first retrospective of the 76-year-old Indian artist’s work in the U.S. The series features drawings, sketches, etchings, linocuts, and watercolors. Hyperallergic observes how the works “expand beyond the trappings of gender, sex, and societal norms—a detention not many women artists in India have dared to attempt to dismantle.” On view through March 7.

An etching of a topless woman who holds her arms out to the right and left as they hover over mask-like images of male faces. Behind the figure is the top half of the globe.

Anupam Sud, Rhapsody of Time, 1992–2008; Photo courtesy of the artist and DAG Modern

Jordan Casteel: Within Reach is now open at New York City’s New Museum. Featuring more than 40 large-scale oil paintings that portray the people from the communities in which Casteel lives and works—former classmates at Yale, street vendors and neighbors in Harlem, and her own students. In an interview with Artnet, Casteel talks about how she brings her own femininity to her paintings of men. On view through May 24.

—Alexa Kasner is the spring 2020 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: February 14, 2020

Artist Sonya Boyce will represent Britain at the 2021 Venice Biennale; she is the first black woman in the event’s history to do so. In an interview, the artist said that the fallout from Brexit would influence her work, as would the idea of nationhood.

A portrait of artist Sonya Boyce, who wears a colorful scarf, black knit hat, and black jacket; she smiles while looking into the distance.

Sonya Boyce; Photo by David Levene for The Guardian

Boyce came to prominence in the black British art scene in the early 1980s. In 1987, her work became the first by a black woman to enter the Tate’s collection. Boyce’s art combines photography, drawing, performance, and film; she works with a range of collaborators to explore her experience as a black woman in the art world.

Front-Page Femmes

Artsy profiles Howardena Pindell, who at the age of 76 is finally receiving acclaim.

An all-female team from the South African architectural firm Counterspace has been selected to design the 2020 Serpentine Pavilion; they are also the youngest architects ever to be commissioned for the project.

Emily Mason, abstract artist and teacher, has died at age 87.

Frieze publishes a conversation between Judy Chicago, Jane Fonda, and Hans Ulrich Obrist about art and environmental activism.

A black and white photo of Judy Chicago and Jane Fonda who pose with their arms around each other, smiling, in front of one of Chicago's paintings.

Judy Chicago and Jane Fonda at Jeffrey Deitch Gallery, Los Angeles, 2019; Photo by Sarah Thornton

The Royal Academy of Art has elected visual artist Rana Begum as a royal academician in the category of painting. Begum’s work was featured at NMWA in Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018.   

Colossal profiles artist Liz Sexton, who brings animals to human scale with her papier-mâché masks.

Juxtapoz reports on a new book of photographs by artist and curator Maude Arsenault, who represents women in the context of domesticity and intimacy.

Artland magazine’s “Female Iconoclasts” series features Leonora Carrington, Tamara de Lempicka, Hedda Stern, and Louise Bourgeois.

Creative Review profiles illustrator and book designer Jinhee Han.

Frieze reviews Jenny Offill’s new novel, Weather, which offers a sardonic take on contemporary environmental anxieties.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill approving the establishment of a Smithsonian Women’s History Museum. “Our country should know the names of its history-making women,” said D.C. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Shows We Want to See

A hyper-realist painting of a young African American girl, in a white summer dress, floating on her back in a pool with her arms in a dancer pose and her eyes closed.

Calida Rawles, painting from the exhibition A Dream for My Lilith

Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures is open at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. It is the museum’s first major exhibition of Lange’s work in 50 years, bringing together iconic works from the collection with less familiar photographs—from early street photography to projects on criminal justice reform. The New York Times calls it “revelatory.” On view through May 9, 2020.

Calida Rawles’s latest exhibition, A Dream for My Lilith, is open at Various Small Fires in Los Angeles. The show features whimsical and political hyperrealist paintings that show African American youth playing in swimming pools. On view through March 14, 2020.

Ana Benaroya’s solo show Teach Me Tonight opens on February 15 at Richard Heller Gallery in Santa Monica. Juxtapoz published an excerpt from Benaroya’s essay about her works: “In this show, lesbian desire is both explicit and hidden. Cue the music! It’s about listening to a woman singing a song and pretending she’s singing to another woman.” On view through March 28, 2020.

—Alexa Kasner is the spring 2020 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: February 7, 2020

Farah Al Qasimi, Woman in Leopard Print, 2019; Courtesy of the artist, Helena Anrather, and the Third Line

As part of her commission for New York City’s Public Art Fund, photographer Farah Al Qasimi showcases the beauty and jubilation of the city’s immigrant neighborhoods in Farah Al Qasimi: Back and Forth Disco.

Life-size renderings of her images adorn commercial light boxes on the sides of bus shelters in 100 locations across the five boroughs through May 17. The New Yorker observes that “Qasimi’s photographs arrive in New York as a gorgeous, if inadvertent, retort to the threat of increased restrictions on U.S. immigration.”

Front-Page Femmes

The New Yorker interviews illustrator Malika Favre about her latest cover for the magazine—a nod to the fact that no women directors were nominated at the 2020 Academy Awards—and her cinematic approach to illustration.

The New York Times profiles director Dee Rees, looking at how the Oscar-nominated director is “trying to create a new kind of Hollywood empire.”

The Guardian reviews Susanne Regina Meures’s new film Saudi Runaway, in which a young woman secretly documents her preparations for escape from an arranged marriage on her smartphone.

Two new reports published by the University of Southern California and U.C.L.A found that women and people of color featured more prominently in popular films in 2019 than in any other year measured.

Acclaimed sculptor Beverly Pepper, known for her majestic, abstract steel works, has died at age 97.

Del Pitt Feldman, the celebrated crochet designer whose clientele included Janis Joplin and Cher, has died at age 90.

Colossal interviews photographer Brooke DiDonato on her process and the inspiration behind her surreal imagery.

Photograph by Brooke DiDonato

Hyperallergic profiles Corita Kent, a nun-turned-artist, whose politically charged series “Heroes and Sheroes” features bold silkscreens of Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, and Cesar Chavez.

Artsy looks at Cindy Sherman’s breakout photo series “Untitled Film Stills” through a personal story of a life-changing encounter with art.

The New York Times reviews Zilia Sánchez: Soy Isla (I Am an Island), now on view at El Museo del Barrio in New York City.

Three female arts leaders came together at the Brooklyn Museum for a frank discussion about the state of museums in 2020.

Shows We Want to See

Amy Sherald, When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be (Self-imagined atlas), 2018; © Amy Sherald; Courtesy of the artist, Hauser & Wirth, and the Eileen Harris Norton Collection; Photo by Charles White

At the Grimm Gallery in New York City, Dana Lixenberg’s solo show, American Images, features a selection of portraits of American icons who have shaped today’s cultural landscape. Notable figures include Jenny Holzer, Tupac, Mary J. Blige, Kate Moss, Jay-Z, Toni Morrison, and others. On view through February 29, 2020.

Collective Constellation: Selections from the Eileen Harris Norton Collection will open on Saturday, February 8, at Art + Practice in Los Angeles. The exhibition features artworks by women of color—including Amy Sherald, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Lorna Simpson, Betye Saar, Carrie Mae Weems, Shirin Neshat, Doris Salcedo, and more—from the personal art collection of the philanthropist, art collector and Art + Practice co-founder. Frieze interviewed Norton about her pioneering life in art. On view through August 1, 2020.

—Alexa Kasner is the spring 2020 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: January 31, 2019

In 2019, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) in Brazil added 296 works by 21 female artists to its collection. This acquisition follows a yearlong effort to put women artists at the forefront of all museum exhibitions, publications, workshops, and events.

A neon sign against a pink wall that says "Are you Brazilian? Oh, I Love Brazilian Women"

Santarosa Barreto, Brazilv, 2018; Courtesy of Museu de Arte de São Paulo

Adriano Pedrosa, MASP’s artistic director, said that the acquisitions help the institution live up to its mission to become a more “diverse, inclusive, and plural museum.”

Front-Page Femmes

Artnet interviews Christine Sun Kim, the transgressive deaf artist who will sign the National Anthem alongside Demi Lovato at the 2020 Super Bowl.

The New Yorker revisits Toni Morrison’s debut novel, The Bluest Eye, on its 50th anniversary; the book “cut a new path through the American literary landscape by placing black girls at the center of the story.”

In “Harvest,” a seated woman holds three children, while two others gather at her bare feet. A small stack of nondescript books, a brown skull, a broken string of pearls, and a writhing snake line the steps, providing contrast between the natural and human-made elements.

Harmonia Rosales, The Harvest, 2018; © Harmonia Rosales

Juxtapoz interviews Dominique Fung, who uses her paintings to reconfigure art history through a non-Western and non-imperialist gaze.

At the 2020 Grammy Awards, Billie Eilish became the first woman, and second artist ever, to take home “The Big Four” awards (album, record, and song of the year; and best new artist) in one night.

Colossal profiles Christy Lee Rogers, whose photographs explore human movement in a weightless environment; Rogers’s most recent series was commissioned by Apple.

Zineb Sedira is expected to become the first artist of Algerian descent to represent France at the Venice Biennale in 2021. Sedira explores themes of identity, geography, and colonialism in her works.

Colossal profiles Harmonia Rosales, whose paintings focus on black female empowerment in Western culture.

Hyperallergic reviews the Getty’s podcast Recording Artists: Radical Women, noting the “common thread of struggle” for all six featured artists.

A collection of Virginia Woolf’s letters, manuscripts, photographs, postcards, and rare editions has been added to the holdings of the New York Public Library.

Artist and Holocaust survivor Ceija Stojka’s striking paintings revisit the trauma and horrors she experienced at Auschwitz.

The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas has acquired new works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Judy Chicago, and Beverly Semmes.

Author Roxane Gay has entered the world of graphic novels with The Sacrifice of Darkness, adapted from a short story in her 2017 collection Difficult Women.

Soma Han’s retrospective, East and West, will open at the Hilltop Gallery in Nogales, California, on February 2.

Shows We Want to See

Elizabeth Catlett’s Sharecropper, possibly her most famous work, was made in Mexico, where she moved in 1946 to work at the Taller de Gráfica Popular (People’s Graphic Arts Workshop). She was influenced by the spirit of activism at the workshop, which inspired her to produce images of the hardships endured by African American women, as well as the accomplishments of figures such as Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. Sharecropper, like many of her other works, shows Catlett’s activism on behalf of African American women in the South, who she believed maintained their dignity in the face of great adversity.

Elizabeth Catlett, Sharecropper, 1968; © Catlett Mora Family Trust / VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / The Art Institute of Chicago / Art Resource, NY

Elizabeth Catlett: Artist as Activist is on view at Baltimore’s Reginald F. Lewis Museum through March 1. The exhibition spans 60 years of the artist’s career and highlights her recurrent themes of valorized workers and industrious women. BmoreArt profiles the artist and show.

Kim Gordon, former bassist of Sonic Youth, has debuted a new exhibition, The Bonfire, at 303 Gallery in New York. Gordon presents a world of safety and familial intimacy surreptitiously undermined by insidious, unseen forces. Artnet interviews the artist about the new work, her foray back into visual arts, and the uneasiness of being a private person in the public eye. On view through February 22.

 

—Alexa Kasner is the spring 2020 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Director’s Desk: Built to Order

At the National Museum of Women in the Arts, we regularly rotate our collection to spark new thematic connections. This is an essential part of our curatorial philosophy. My final post in this six-part series explores the theme “Built to Order.” Read about our other themes in the posts “Family Matters,” “Rebels with a Cause,” “Space Explorers,” “The Great Outdoors,” and “Roots to Routes.”

This photograph documents an abandoned military structure at Greenham Common, a former Royal Air Force station in Berkshire, England. Once a site conveying military strength, the scene captured by the artists offers a different perspective—one of decay and abandonment. The photograph’s otherworldly glow highlights the empty interior of the space.

Jane Wilson; Louise Wilson, Silo: Gamma, 1999 (printed 2007); Chromogenic color print, 63 x 106 in.; NMWA, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection

The artists in “Built to Order” investigate human intervention in the natural world, considering the impact of structures, cities, and societies. Sculptors explore the expressive potential of building materials, forming evocative arrangements of wood, rubber, and metal. Photographers focus on the splendor and scale of public spaces and the psychological tension inherent in secret or abandoned places.

Gallery Highlights:

One of the most influential sculptors of the 20th century, Louise Nevelson (1899–1988) imbued scrap wood with majestic properties. Inspired by Cubist art, she began making assemblages in the 1940s, painting them a single solid color. In White Column (from Dawn’s Wedding Feast) (1959), the artist references an architectural design element in a chapel. Although Nevelson often worked with black painted wood, her choice of white for this sculpture signaled a shift in perspective, referencing the color traditionally associated with matrimony and connecting the work more broadly to ethereal space.

The largest sculpture in our collection is Acid Rain (2001) by Chakaia Booker (b. 1953). Repurposing discarded tires, Booker slices, twists, weaves, and rivets them into radical new forms, converting industrial debris into art objects. She says, Acid Rain symbolizes both the destruction and the creative possibilities of our interaction with the environment.”

Louise Nevelson White Column

Louise Nevelson, White Column (from Dawn's Wedding Feast), 1959; Painted wood, 110 x 15 1/2 x 12 1/2 in.; NMWA, Gift of an anonymous donor; © 2012 Estate of Louise Nevelson / Artists Right Society (ARS), New York

acid rain

Chakaia Booker, Acid Rain, 2001; Rubber tires and wood, 120 x 240 x 36 in.; NMWA, Museum purchase: Members' Acquisition Fund; © Chakaia Booker

Frida Baranek, "Untitled" 1991, iron, 43 x 39 x 75 in.; 1994.3

Frida Baranek, Untitled, 1991; Iron, 44 x 75 x 46 in.; NMWA: The Lois Pollard Price Acquisition Fund; © Frida Baranek / Galeria Raquel Arnaud, © Frida Baranek

Sculptures by Brazilian artist Frida Baranek (b. 1961) often fool the eye. Untitled (1991) appears from a distance to comprise natural, lightweight materials, but it is actually made from iron and weighs nearly 100 pounds. Despite this weight, Baranek’s structure appears surprisingly delicate. Similarly to Booker, she uses recycled metal to create objects that appear to come from the natural world—her work calls attention to issues of environmentalism, urbanization, and industrialization.

Twin sisters Jane and Louise Wilson (b. 1967) are known for haunting video installations and photographs of deserted architectural spaces, particularly those representing institutional power. Silo: Gamma (1999; printed 2007) documents an abandoned military structure at Greenham Common, a former Royal Air Force station in Berkshire, England. Once a site conveying military strength, the scene captured by the artists offers a different perspective—one of decay and abandonment. The photograph’s otherworldly glow highlights the empty interior of the space. The Wilsons, and many other artists on view in this section of our galleries, demonstrate that women excel as both makers of complex forms and interpreters of built spaces.

—Susan Fisher Sterling is the Alice West Director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: January 24, 2020

The Guardian discusses Dior’s recent haute couture show, which featured a set designed by Judy Chicago. Guests were seated within a custom version of Chicago’s unrealized sculpture, Inflatable Mother Goddess; embroidered banners posed questions in Chicago’s signature cursive script.

Models walk the final act of Dior's couture show against Judy Chicago's backdrop of embroidered feminist banners.

Judy Chicago’s embroidered banners formed the backdrop to Dior’s spring-summer 2020 couture show in Paris; Photo by Victor Boyko/Getty Images

Maria Grazia Chiuri, the first female artistic director of Dior, has looked to women artists for inspiration before. “The reason that Chiuri has felt it important to celebrate women at Dior—is that the art world has been, and continues to be, bedeviled by systemic prejudice, of which sexism is only one component.”

Front-Page Femmes

Photojournalist and director Jessica Dimmock campaigns for the Directors Guild of America to change its health benefits to support new parents; Dimmock lost her own insurance after the birth of her first child.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Artnet featured seven artworks that defined the Civil Rights Era;  Elizabeth Catlett’s wooden sculpture Homage to My Young Black Sisters (1968) is included.

Cecilia Alemani will be artistic director of the 2021 Venice Biennale; she is only the fifth woman to hold this position in the Biennale’s 59-year-history.

The New York Times profiles Yola, a best new artist nominee at this year’s Grammy Awards—though she’s been hard at work for the past two decades.

Artist Deana Lawson stands in front of a wisteria tree, behind an old camera, and holds the shutter click; she stares seriously at the viewer and is wearing a floral dress that compliments the tree.

Deana Lawson, Self Portrait; Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

Artsy lists 20 trailblazing artists with major museum shows in 2020; 15 are women or gender-nonconforming, including Alice Neel, Zanele Muholi, and Deana Lawson.

Juxtapoz interviews Los Angeles-based artist Jillian Evelyn; her new solo exhibition, Skinny Dippers, is open at Outré Gallery in Melbourne.

Frieze reviews Marie Karlberg‘s film The Dinner, a parody of the social conditions surrounding artistic production.

Fractured Atlas interviews comedian and performance artists Kristina Wong about her “Radical Cram School” web series, which aims to engage young people in, and educate them about, civic participation.

Shows We Want to See

A realistic portrait of a woman from the chin to wait

Clarity Haynes, Genesis, 2019; Oil on linen; Courtesy of the artist and Denny Dimin Gallery

Clarity Haynes’s first solo show, Altar-ed bodies, is on view at the Denny Dimin Gallery in New York City through January 25. Haynes’s work centers bodies that the art world and society often deem unworthy of respect or admiration. Hyperallergic reviewed the show, noting that Haynes’s “portrayals of queer, heavy, and disabled bodies reimagines the white box as a communal space that allows for the possibility of healing.”

Gabriela Ruiz: Full of Tears is on view at the Vincent Price Art Museum in Monterey Park, California, through February 15. This is the first solo exhibition for the multidisciplinary artist and designer, who uses 3-D rendering, video mapping, and installation to investigate questions of the self. The Los Angeles Times profiled the artist.

Käthe Kollwitz: Prints, Process, Politics is open at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. A selection of works on paper—including rare preparatory drawings, working proofs, and trial prints—sheds light on Kollwitz’s creative process and political engagement. Frieze profiles the artist, looking at her radical legacy as a champion of working class struggles. On view through March 29.

—Alexa Kasner is the spring 2020 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Women Artists of the DMV: Maria Verónica San Martín’s “In Their Memory”

DMV Color presents artists’ books, graphic novels, photobooks, and zines by women of African American, Asian American, and Latina heritage with ties to the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia—known locally as the DMV. The works on view depict intimacies of family life, legacies of enslavement, dislocation tied to immigration, changes resulting from rampant development, and more. On view in NMWA’s Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center (LRC) through March 4, 2020.

***

Originally from Santiago, Chile, Maria Verónica San Martín (b. 1981) is a New York-based printmaker, sculptor, performance artist, and bookmaker who attended the former Corcoran School of the Arts & Design in Washington, D.C. Her evocative artist’s book In Their Memory (2012) is featured in DMV Color. San Martín’s work functions as a tactile form of resistance—it critically examines power structures and the sanitization of historical atrocities.

Maria Verónica San Martín holds up her artist's book In Their Memory

Maria Verónica San Martín holds up her artist’s book In Their Memory; Photo courtesy of the artist

San Martín’s work draws upon Chile’s fraught political history. In Their Memory memorializes the Chilean citizens who were tortured and disappeared under General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973–1990). As a result, thousands of Chileans sought asylum in Canada, Sweden, and the U.S., including the DMV area. The full scope of the human rights injustices committed by the regime remains under investigation to this day.

In an interview, San Martín explained her activist approach. “As a second-generation witness of the regime’s atrocities and a first-generation artist experiencing the legacy of the dictatorship on the collective body…my practice rejects the idea of a progressive history with a fixed past.”

In Their Memory invites viewers to grapple with the erasure of the era’s violent political history. Wherever the work travels, it honors and preserves the identities of missing people, along with the resilience of their families. Through archival practices, printmaking, and bookmaking, San Martín also explores the role of collective memory. The flag book structure is both a sculpture and a book immortalizing, through black-and-white portraits and lists of names, the victims of the Pinochet regime.

The process of etching and printing images onto the book’s surface embodies the painful erasure and reappearance of those missing—literally and from the Chilean people’s collective memory. An image of Chile’s presidential palace, La Moneda, is printed onto the back. Images of missing Chilean citizens juxtaposed against the government’s seat of power further embodies issues of unjust institutions.

In Their Memory-21

Maria Verónica San Martín, In Their Memory, 2012

In Their Memory-9 (1)

Maria Verónica San Martín, In Their Memory, 2012

Today, the people of Chile have taken to the streets to protest social inequality. As the country’s economic model was put in place under Pinochet, the dictator’s legacy still looms. In an interview with the LRC, San Martín identified the spike in political engagement among Chileans, especially the youth, as important to transforming economic and social structures that favor the rich and discard the middle class and poor. “When this social crisis arose, there was a [collective] conscious[ness] happening.” In Their Memory is an important vehicle of activism and social justice, connecting Chile’s past to this contemporary moment.

Elizabeth Chung was the fall 2019 Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: January 17, 2020

A print of a closeup of the Statue of Liberty's face/crown with a black woman wearing thigh high shiny black boots and a colorful leotard sitting atop, looking out into the distance.

Renee Cox, Chillin With Liberty, 1998; Courtesy of the artist, © Renee Cox

The Park Avenue Armory is marking the 100th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage by commissioning new works from 100 women artists.

“Supporting the creation of new work by some of the most innovative women artists working today allows us to creatively explore where we’ve been, how far we’ve come, and the work that remains to be done,” Rebecca Robertson, the Armory’s founding president and executive producer, said. Participating artists will be announced at the Armory’s February 15 “Culture in a Changing America” symposium.

Front-Page Femmes

Judy Chicago has created an immersive installation for Dior’s spring haute couture show at the Rodin Museum in Paris; the general public will have the opportunity to view the installation from January 21 to 26.

Betty Pat Gatliff, a pioneer in forensic arts, who is responsible for sculpturally reconstructing the face of Pharaoh Tutankhamun featured in Life, has died at age 89.

Slate reports on Little Women director Greta Gerwig’s Best Director Oscar snub and the long-running gender inequity in that top category; the New York Times interviewed Gerwig shortly after the nominations.

Little Women costume designer Jacqueline Durran discusses her radical approach to Victorian costume design.

The New Yorker interviews textile designer Diana Ejaita, whose illustration of Martin Luther King, Jr., is featured on the cover of the magazine’s latest issue.

Three photos side by side showing artist Diana Ejaita's studio in Nigeria; it is full of colorful prints and plants.

Diana Ejaita in her studio in Lagos, Nigeria, where she has also been working on a series of posters for a dance company; Photographs by Taiwo Ojudun

Cindy Sherman has won the $100,000 Wolf Prize in Art; the award honors scientists and artists for “achievements in the interest of mankind.”

London’s National Gallery has revealed details about its upcoming Artemisia Gentileschi exhibition; Artemisia will include 30 of her paintings, nearly half from private collections and many rarely lent.

Tamara de Lempicka’s portrait of Marjorie Ferry will be a leading highlight at the Impressionist and Modern evening sale at Christie’s London on February 5.

Artnet reports on the details of Yayoi Kusama’s upcoming New York Botanical Garden exhibition, which will include a new Infinity Room.

Singaporean artist Amanda Heng has won the Benesse Prize, which recognizes work in the Singapore Biennale that embodies an “experimental and critical spirit” centered on the theme of well-being.

Shows We Want to See

Suzy Lake’s Performance of Protest is on view at Arsenal Contemporary Art in New York through tomorrow, January 18. The exhibition follows Lake’s five-decade career, capturing her continued investigation of her own image as a means to probe and resist constructions of gender, identity, and beauty. In an interview with Art in America, Lake said, “I started to realize that all my work about representation was really about resistance.”

A grid of photos showing artist Suzy Lake with her face painted white putting on makeup and skin cream.

Suzy Lake, Imitations of Myself #2, 1973/2003, Ed. 5 of 5; Courtesy of the artist

Five Hundred Years of Women’s Work: The Lisa Unger Baskin Collection is on view at New York City’s Grolier Club through February 8. The exhibition documents the long and sometimes hidden history of women making an independent living as scientists, midwives, writers, activists, undertakers, and more. The 200 objects on view are drawn from the collection of Baskin, who said, “I’m interested in how women managed to survive and keep themselves.”

—Alicia Gregory is the assistant editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Judy Chicago—The End: Extinction

The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, the newest body of work by iconic feminist artist Judy Chicago, continues the artist’s practice of tackling taboo subjects. In these works, she offers a bold reflection on mortality and the destruction of entire species. Visually striking and emotionally charged, the exhibition comprises more than 35 paintings on black glass and porcelain, as well as two large-scale bronze reliefs. On view September 19, 2019–January 20, 2020.

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When asked if it was hard to confront the topic of death—one most people try to avoid—in her latest body of work, Judy Chicago revealed that the process of addressing her own mortality brought her to a place of acceptance. Harder, however, was her work on the “Extinction” section of The End, which she described creating through two “excruciating” years of intense painting. Chicago does not mince words: “To be faced every day with what we are doing to other creatures and the planet was to enter the kingdom of hell.”

Judy Chicago - Collected

Judy Chicago, Collected, from The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, 2015–16; Kiln-fired glass paint on black glass, 12 x 18 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, NY

Judy Chicago - Smuggled

Judy Chicago, Smuggled, from The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, 2016; Kiln-fired glass paint on black glass, 12 x 18 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, NY

Judy Chicago - Vulnerable

Judy Chicago, Vulnerable, from The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, 2015–16; Kiln-fired glass paint on black glass, 12 x 18 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, NY

Judy Chicago - Bleached

Judy Chicago, Bleached, from The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, 2017; Kiln-fired glass paint on black glass, 12 x 18 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, NY

Judy Chicago - Smothered

Judy Chicago, Smothered, from The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, 2016; Kiln-fired glass paint on black glass, 12 x 18 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, NY

Chicago expresses a collective sense of anxiety and sadness in the 15 “Extinction” panels, which depict, often in graphic detail, groups of animals, fish, birds, and flora that have been irrevocably harmed by humans. Her titles for these works directly name the violence enacted on innocent life forms: Smothered, Battered, Bleached, Finned, Harvested, Slit Open, Targeted, Silenced, Poached, Vulnerable.

From polar bears displaced by melting Artic ice to trees flayed of their bark for medicinal purposes, Chicago offers her lament for each of her subjects. Chicago’s handwriting, which has long been part of her artistic practice, appears here as it does in each section of The End. While the artist frequently employs writing in her work to communicate or narrate, the writing in the “Extinction” panels also becomes an integral part of the composition. Chicago emphasizes significant words and phrases with different text sizes, often in capitalized block letters.

A bronze relief sculpture of the faces of a bear, gorilla, and sea turtle; a shark body; and birds. The bear centers the piece with its four claws prominent, the other animals appear to be in the body of the bear.

Judy Chicago, Extinction Relief, from The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, 2018; Patinated bronze, 53 1/2 x 30 1/2 x 14 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, NY

Chicago includes a large bronze relief sculpture in “Extinction”—an assemblage of the likenesses of creatures threatened with extinction. The material is notable for its prevalence in monumental statuary and its use throughout history in high art and ceremonial vessels; Chicago honors the animals that once lived. However, the work also evokes the visual language of mounted hunting trophies, calling into question the ethics of killing purely for sport or luxury, and presenting a haunting image of suffering.

For Chicago, the physical stamina needed to execute these works was compounded by the grief she felt for her subjects. Recalling a similar emotional toll while working on the Holocaust Project (1985–93), Chicago says, “That was hard but this was worse,” adding that the Holocaust Project dealt with events in the past while there is no end in sight to the extinction of countless species.

Art Fix Friday: January 10, 2020

At the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Awkwafina made history by becoming the first performer of Asian descent to win the best actress award for her performance in The Farewell. Angela Bassett is the only other woman of color to win the same award—almost three decades ago in 1993.

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Despite growing diversity in Hollywood, this award season’s nominations have been notably white and male. The Golden Globes, Directors Guild of America, and BAFTA all excluded women from their top directing prize despite a successful year for women behind the camera, including Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), and Greta Gerwig (Little Women). In a recent interview Scafaria said, “The female experience is often considered the female experience, not the human experience. For people of color it’s twice as hard. I’d love to see change.”

Front-Page Femmes

The Atlantic interviews director Melina Matsoukas about her debut feature film, Queen & Slim, and her eye for capturing “the inextricable beauty and brutality of life for black Americans.”

The New York Times looks at Greta Gerwig’s new adaptation of Little Women and the ways it “feels positively radical.”

Artnet ranks Frida Kahlo’s most under-the-radar paintings.

Writer Elizabeth Wurtzel has died at age 52. Her memoir, Prozac Nation, introduced an influential style of confessional writing and opened a public dialogue about mental health.

Women in Public, a miniseries of multidisciplinary programs presented as part of Brooklyn Falls for France, will explore themes of place and wandering with a focus on the female experience.

Nell Irvin Painter stands in front of one of her works smiling in a paint-stained smock.

Nell Irvin Painter; Photo by John Emerson

The Boston Review interviews celebrated scholar of African American history and race Nell Irvin Painter, who retired and enrolled in art school; Painter observes, “In art, I can delve into what I can’t know as an historian.”

Artnet interviews Claire L. Lanier, the new social media manager at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, about “how she landed one of the most prestigious gigs in the New York art world.”

The latest episode of NPR’s LifeKit explores how to start an art habit; DMV Color artist Malaka Gharib leads the conversation with artist Trinidad Escobar and art therapist Girija Kaimal.

The New York Times reviews Miranda Popkey’s debut novel Topics of Conversation, which “poses unanswerable questions of female autonomy and consent.”

Shows We Want to See

Kiki Smith, Sky, 2012; Jacquard tapestry, © Kiki Smith; Courtesy of Timothy Taylor, London/New York and Magnolia Editions

Kiki Smith: I Am a Wanderer is on view at Modern Art Oxford through January 19. The retrospective focuses on three distinctive areas of Smith’s practice: small sculptures created from the mid-1980s to the present day, a selection from her printmaking, and the intricate Jacquard tapestries she has produced since 2012.

At New York City’s Museum of Arts and Design, Vera Paints a Scarf celebrates the work of Vera Neumann, one of the most successful female design entrepreneurs of the 20th century. From 1942 to her death in 1993, Neumann produced an iconic line of women’s scarves, as well as thousands of textile patterns based on her drawings, paintings, and collages. On view through January 26.

—Alicia Gregory is the assistant editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.