5 Fast Facts: Robin Kahn

Impress your friends with five fast facts about artist Robin Kahn (b. 1961, New York City), whose work Victoria’s Secret (1995) is on display in the third-floor galleries.

1. Art at the Start

Raised in New York City, Kahn was exposed to art from a young age. Her father often took her to museums and galleries. Her grandmother was also an artist. Kahn said, “We were kindred spirits, and in that way I had a bit of a role model.”

Robin Kahn, Victoria’s Secret, 1995; Mixed media on canvas, 68 1/8 x 38 1/8 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Maxine Kahn; © Robin Kahn

2. Many Mediums, One Focus

Kahn expresses herself as a painter, sculptor, curator, author, activist, and blogger. She says, “All of my work deals with women’s issues, empowering women, making their work visible, working with women across boundaries, and barriers, and race, and culture.”

3. Curating for a Cause

Kahn uses her platform to advocate for causes she is passionate about. In 2016 she co-curated an exhibition with her husband titled The Value of Food: Sustaining a Green Planet. The show featured artwork that tackled issues of food sustainability, safety, and accessibility.

4. Copy Rights

Kahn does not believe in copyrighting art. “To claim an artwork as original is a disingenuous idea. Art is about sharing,” she says. “So my books, for example, have no copyright. If you want to take it and copy it, that’s fine with me because it won’t be the same thing. It will become something else.”

5. Refuge in Art

Kahn’s installation at dOCUMENTA (13) re-created the lifestyle of women living in Sahrawi refugee camps. Kahn, and eight women who were born in the camps, created a “home-in-exile” installation “as a symbol of peaceful refuge and see how it can interact with the environment.”

Visit the museum see Kahn’s Victoria’s Secret (1995) in person.

Madeline Barnes was the spring 2017 digital engagement intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

On View: Maria Helena Vieira da Silva

The Embassy of Portugal in Washington, D.C., invited NMWA to participate in the “Month of Portugal in the United States” for June 2018. This initiative celebrates ongoing cultural, educational, and research exchanges between the two countries. NMWA is partnering with Museu Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon to present a group of works by Portuguese-born artist Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (1908–1992).

If you are able to visit NMWA’s collection galleries this June, you will enjoy seeing three works on loan from the celebrated Gulbenkian Museum—two oil paintings and a tapestry—alongside two works by Vieira da Silva from NMWA’s collection.

Installation view of Maria Helena Vieira da Silva’s works at NMWA

Vieira da Silva helped to shape the field of expressive abstraction after World War II in Paris, where she lived and worked for nearly 60 years. She instinctually built line, shape, and color into atmospheric, web-like compositions. In L’aire du vent (1966), she interlaced heavy, roughly drawn lines and restricted her palette to grays and blues, evoking a sense of force that contrasts with the ethereal quality of her canvas titled L’oranger (1954), the artist’s interpretation of an orange orchard on a sunny day.

Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, L’aire du vent, 1966; Oil on canvas, 39 x 52 x 1 1/2 in.; Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon; Installation Photo: NMWA

Vieira da Silva designed the wool tapestry titled Janela (Window) on the occasion of the opening of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s headquarters in Lisbon in 1969. This finely woven textile was created at Portugal’s esteemed Manufactura de Tapeçarias de Portalegre. Although she was best known as a painter, Vieira da Silva’s career also included public art commissions and works in tapestry, scenography, stained glass, and illustration.

Visitors may also view works by the artist from NMWA’s collection—The Town, a dazzling oil from 1955, and an untitled gouache (1962) in shades of red and yellow, an unusually bright palette for the artist. A gift to NMWA from Dian Woodner, the gouache will be exhibited at the museum for the first time in this installation of Vieira da Silva’s art.

Visit the museum during June 2018 to see Vieira da Silva’s works and celebrate “Month of Portugal in the United States.”

Adapted from text by Kathryn Wat, chief curator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: June 8, 2018

Artsy shares, “What You Need to Know about Baroque Master Artemisia Gentileschi.” Gentileschi managed to build a reputation as a sought-after artist against all odds. However, after her death, scholars omitted her from art historical texts.

Artsy staff writer Alexxa Gotthardt outlines Gentileschi’s life and career from asserting her artistic voice and assault, to painting powerful women, and her complicated legacy.

Front-Page Femmes

Colossal celebrates the Guerrilla Girls as one of the most influential art activist groups of the last 50 years.

Artforum and artnet interview Lynda Benglis about humor, nature, and feminism.

“Design and architecture have been, and remain, professions dominated by men,” writes architecture critic Alexandra Lange.

Culture Type spotlights Magnetic Fields artist Maren Hassinger.

Warsaw-based curator and writer Anda Rottenberg discusses her experiences in Poland’s art world.

Fates and Furies author Lauren Groff publishes a short-story collection titled Florida. The New Yorker calls her work “a chaotic blurring or collapsing of the real and the imaginary.” NPR interviews Groff.

Artist Lindsey French’s work is a “multi-faceted collaboration with the natural world, giving voice to the photosynthetic, and openly conspiring with the notorious poison ivy.”

ArtCurious Podcast explores why Lee Krasner and Elaine de Kooning continue to have their posthumous careers and stories marked and shaped by their husbands.

A week after turning 40, the American Ballet Theater principal dancer Stella Abrera will dance the lead in “Romeo and Juliet.”

Half Gods, Akil Kumarasamy’s début collection of interconnected stories, “doubles as a chilling history lesson for readers unfamiliar with the bloody conflict between Sri Lanka’s Tamils, a northern minority, and its Sinhalese majority.”

Shows We Want to See

Below the Horizon: Kiki Smith at Eldridge is the first site-specific exhibition to use all three floors of the Eldridge Street Synagogue.

Women Photograph Dalí features works by women artists who were well-known photojournalists, as well as artists who were known as patrons, art dealers, or supporters of their better-known husbands. The exhibition is on view at the Gala–Salvador Dalí Foundation’s Púbol Castle in Catalonia, Spain.

Carmen Winant’s My Birth (2018) is on view as part of Being: New Photography 2018 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Hyperallergic writes, “Winant directly addresses our general discomfort with the physical aspect of childbirth, forcing viewers to look directly at it, the universal starting point.”

Dressing for Dystopia, on view at the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film features costume designer Ane Crabtree’s creations for the Hulu show The Handmaid’s Tale.

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

5 Fast Facts: Julie Roberts

Impress your friends with five fast facts about artist Julie Roberts (b. 1963, Flint, Wales), whose work is in NMWA’s collection.

1. Change It Up

Roberts initially wished to pursue a career in design. She applied to Glasgow School of Art’s MFA course in the Drawing and Painting Department after a one-year postgraduate course in Art and Design at Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design.

2. Absent Presence

In the 1990s, Roberts alluded to a human presence in her work without rendering the body specifically. Roberts’s precise portrayal of the garment in Floating Nightgown (1996), together with her handling of line and shadow, evokes the movement and shape of the human form. It was not until later in her career that she began portraying the human body.

3. Drawing Inspiration

Roberts created her earliest sketches of medical objects during visits to the Glasgow Royal infirmary while she was pursuing her MFA. Though Roberts spent time sketching medical objects, she created her final images by working from photographs.

4About the Kids

In more recent paintings, Roberts turned her attention to mid-20th-century children. Dormitory (2011) is part of a series that reflects upon the experience of displaced children in Europe. While Roberts conducted extensive research about the post-war period, she also acknowledged that the subject is somewhat autobiographical because she and her siblings spent part of their childhood in foster care and children’s homes.

5. Up The Wall

Roberts created a wallpaper featuring sculptor Barbara Hepworth (1903–1975) at work for the group exhibition Painting not Painting at Tate St. Ives in 2003.

—Ashley Harris is associate educator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: June 1, 2018

The exhibition Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai’i did not include O’Keeffe’s painting Hibiscus (1939), one of 20 works that O’Keeffe painted while in Hawaii. The painting has since resurfaced, selling for $4.8 million at auction.

Artsy shares news about Georgia O’Keeffe’s Hibiscus; Left: Georgia O’Keeffe, Hibiscus, 1939; Courtesy of Christie’s; right: Yousuf Karsh, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1956; Huxley-Parlour

The New York Botanical Garden planted a “Hawai’ian Paradise Garden” as part of the exhibition chronicling O’Keeffe’s 1939 trip to Hawaii to create art for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company.

Front-Page Femmes

Of the top 100 artists whose works sold for the highest amounts at auction in 2017, only 13 were women. Yayoi Kusama was the only living woman artist in the top 50 artists.

Camille Claudel’s Torso of a Crouching Woman

The J. Paul Getty Museum acquired two French bronzes: Camille Claudel’s Torso of a Crouching Woman and Auguste Rodin’s Bust of John the Baptist.

Sherrie Silver, the choreographer behind Childish Gambino’s dance in “This is America,” says her goal is to “take Afro dance and Afro culture to the world and then take the world to Africa.”

“Films directed by women constituted only 3% of all the screenings that occurred around the world,” writes the Guardian.

Barbara Kasten reflects on the significance of her 1970s cyanotypes in an art21 video profile.

Journalist Masih Alinejad discusses her new memoir and her campaign against a law requiring that Iranian women and girls to cover their heads and necks with a hijab.

PAPER Magazine explores Lorna Simpson’s enduring influence and her work exploring the intersection of race and gender identity.

Mimi Cherono Ng’ok describes her best photograph.

Artsy delves into the history of women photographers in Victorian England.

The search for Frida Kahlo’s long-lost painting La Mesa Herida (The Wounded Table) has been revived in Mexico.

Taryn Simon’s new performance and installation at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass Moca) will involve plunging museum visitors into icy water.

The Brooklyn Museum recently acquired 96 works by women in conjunction with its program A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism.

National Geographic spotlights several women artists’ self-portraits and how their works sparked meaningful dialogue.

Shows We Want to See

Amy Sherald’s solo show at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis is on view through August 19. In an interview with Hyperallergic, Sherald reflects on her work and says, “…it’s nice to come into a space and see yourself expressed gently and just being able to sit with that.”

Carissa Rodriguez: The Maid presents two video works and a series of photo-based works, on view at MIT List Visual Arts Center in Massachusetts.

Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec will feature more than 50 paintings. The exhibition includes a painting by Morisot from NMWA’s collection.

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

Women House: Beginnings

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.

Judy Chicago, Butterfly, test plates, 1973–74

One of the leaders of the 1970s feminist art movement, Judy Chicago (b. 1939, Chicago, Illinois) is considered one of the most innovative and influential artists of the period. Like many other feminist artists, Chicago was interested in raising craft, or “women’s work,” to the status of fine art. In the early 1970s she began studying china painting. Her Butterfly test plates feature a synthesis of vulvar and butterfly imagery, celebrating the female form from a woman’s perspective rather than through the male gaze.

Chicago_Butterfly Test Plate #1

Judy Chicago, Butterfly, test plates, 1973–74; China paint on porcelain; Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York

Chicago_Butterfly Test Plate #2

Judy Chicago, Butterfly, test plates, 1973–74; China paint on porcelain; Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York

Chicago_Butterfly Test Plate #3

Judy Chicago, Butterfly, test plates, 1973–74; China paint on porcelain; Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York

Chicago_Butterfly Test Plate #4

Judy Chicago, Butterfly, test plates, 1973–74; China paint on porcelain; Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York

Chicago_Butterfly Test Plate #5

Judy Chicago, Butterfly, test plates, 1973–74; China paint on porcelain; Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York

Chicago’s plates were a precursor to The Dinner Party (1974–79), permanently housed at the Brooklyn Museum. The installation consists of 39 ornate place settings, each dedicated to a significant historical or mythological woman, including Sacajawea, Artemisia Gentileschi, and Virginia Woolf. The place settings exhibit a variety of craft techniques, including needlework and china painting. Women celebrated in the installation. Over the course of nearly five years, and with the help of hundreds of volunteers, Chicago executed one of the most iconic artworks of the 20th century.

Johanna Demetrakas, Womanhouse, 1972

In 1971, Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro established a feminist art program at California State University, Fresno. For their project Womanhouse, which inspired NMWA’s Women House, Chicago and Schapiro rented a dilapidated mansion in Los Angeles. Along with 23 of their students, they transformed it into a unique exhibition space “suitable to the dreams and fantasies they envisioned for what would be an exclusively female environment.” Womanhouse consisted of workshops, performances, and installations that critiqued gender roles and explored the relationship between women and domesticity. Believing that “society fails women by not demanding excellence from them,” Schapiro and Chicago encouraged their students to push themselves beyond their boundaries.

Award-winning filmmaker Johanna Demetrakas (b. 1937) chronicled Womanhouse in a documentary of the same name. She filmed various workshops, performances, and audience reactions to the installations. The documentary has been screened at NMWA as well as the Whitney Museum, the Venice Biennale, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. To learn more about the inspiration behind NMWA’s current exhibition, watch an online preview of the Womanhouse film and visit the official Womanhouse website to learn more.

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: Construction as Self-Construction

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. Ana Vieira’s room-sized sculpture raises questions about the safety and certainties of home and the differences between public and private space.

Ana Vieira, Ambiente/Sala de Jantar (Environment/Dining Room), 1971; Metal structure, nylon net, acrylic paint, tableware, cutlery, lighting elements, and audio, 98 ½ x 118 ⅛ x 118 ⅛ in. (exterior) 98 ½ x 39 ⅜ x 39 ⅜ in. (interior); Calouste Gulbenkian Museum—Modern Collection; Photo: Lee Stalsworth

Ana Vieira’s Ambiente/Sala de Jantar (Environment/Dining Room), 1971

In the 1970s, some women artists rebelled against the lack of access to space—physical space in which to work or exhibit as well as the symbolic space of recognition—by making building-like installations.

Ana Vieira’s (b. 1940, Coimbra, Portugal; d. 2016, Lisbon) room-sized sculpture Environment/Dining Room (1971) is now seen as a statement of its time. “The ‘Environment’ of 1971 was the beginning of my work on three-dimensional painting, which was also another obsession of mine,” said Vieira. “I did not want there to be only a (two-dimensional) image but the body of the image, visible through the body of the spectators, because you do not see only with your eyes but also with your entire body.”

Vieira built the space from gauze panels screened with silhouettes of objects from a bourgeois interior. The work feels both familiar and strange, raising questions about the safety and certainties of home and the differences between public and private space. The barely visible objects inside the panels and the clinking soundtrack are fragments that the viewer has to actively connect and follow, like clues being decoded. Viewers remain outsiders. Although people would like to enter the structure and participate to know more, they are kept out.

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

Women House: Marks

Nazgol Ansarinia, Membrane (Unbleached Silk), 2016; Paper, glue, and paint, 216 ½ x 65 ⅜ in.; Courtesy of the artist, Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan, and Collection Enea Righi, Bologna

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. Works by Nazgol Ansarinia, Isa Melsheimer, and Heidi Bucher speak of absence and the haunting quality of domestic spaces.

Nazgol Ansarinia’s Membrane (Unbleached Silk), 2016

Nazgol Ansarinia’s (b. 1979, Tehran, Iran) work testifies to rapid changes in Tehran in recent years. An urbanization process has led to the destruction of small, low-rise houses in order to make room for large residential blocks.

The artist sees this massive demolition as erasing collective memories forever. Developed through a 3-D scanner, Membrane is the monumental impression of a structural wall exposed when an adjacent building was demolished.

Isa Melsheimer’s Dachgarten/Treppe (Roof Garden/Stairs), 2010

Isa Melsheimer, Dachgarten/Treppe (Roof Garden/Stairs), 2010; Concrete, metal, and Sempervivum, 21 ¼ x 35 ⅜ x 16 in.; Fonds municipal d’art contemporain de la Ville de Paris

Isa Melsheimer’s (b. 1968, Neuss, Germany) model represents part of a no-longer-extant roof garden near the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Designed by Le Corbusier in the 1920s for the art collector Charles de Beistegui, the space had walls five feet high but no roof.

Directly open to the sky, the room offered glimpses of just the tops of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower. On view nearby is Melsheimer’s related work, Beistegui, which includes an embroidered textile showing these views. This work also features a stuffed cockatiel, an imagined resident of Beistegui’s open-air living room.

Heidi Bucher’s Psychiatrische Anstalt in Kreuzlingen—Schloss Bellevue “Fenstertüre” (Mental Institution in Kreuzlingen—Bellevue Castle “Window”), 1988

Heidi Bucher, Psychiatrische Anstalt in Kreuzlingen—Schloss Bellevue “Fenstertüre” (Mental Institution in Kreuzlingen—Bellevue Castle “Window”), 1988; Organic latex on canvas, 102 ⅜ x 65 in.; The Approach, London

To explore the body’s relation to architectural space, Heidi Bucher (b. 1926, Winterthur, Switzerland; d. 1993, Brunnen, Switzerland) covered the surface of rooms in her native Switzerland with liquid rubber and pigments. Once these leathery “skins” solidified, she slowly peeled them away, a process captured in the video on view nearby. She chose architectural locations full of history, such as the Bellevue psychiatric clinic in the town of Kreuzlingen, where this work was made. A place of control, the mental hospital symbolizes a structure of power that Bucher questioned in her art.

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

Women House: Home is Where it Hurts

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. Birgit Jürgenssen, Mona Hatoum, and Monica Bonvicini explore the implicit and explicit oppression of domestic space and the desire to escape.

Birgit Jürgenssen, Ich möchte hier raus! (I Want To Get Out of Here!), 1976/2006

Birgit Jürgenssen, Ich möchte hier raus! (I Want to Get Out of Here!), 1976/2006; Black-and-white photograph, 22 7/8 x 18 7/8 in.; Estate of Birgit Jürgenssen, Courtesy of Galerie Hubert Winter, Vienna; © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Bildrecht, Vienna

“Woman is so often the subject of art but only seldom and reluc­tantly is she allowed to speak for herself or to produce her own pictures,” wrote Birgit Jürgenssen (b. 1949, Vienna, Austria; d. 2003, Vienna, Austria). Jürgenssen and her feminist contemporaries had to write themselves into a male-dominated narrative of art history.

Jürgenssen portrayed herself as a stereotypical mid-20th-century housewife in the photograph Ich möchte hier raus! She appears silenced and trapped, with her face and hands pressed against glass. The message scrawled across her neck and lace collar, means “I want to get out of here.” The translucent glass alludes to a physical and metaphorical barrier between the housewife and the outside world.

Mona Hatoum, Home, 1999

Born in Beirut to a family of Palestinian exiles, Mona Hatoum (b. 1952, Beirut, Lebanon) “always had an ambiguous relationship with notions of home, family, and the nurturing that is expected.” Like other Palestinian refugees forced from their homes in 1948, Hatoum’s parents were never able to acquire Lebanese identification cards. When civil war broke out in her home country in 1975, Hatoum settled permanently in London.

Mona Hatoum, Home, 1999; Wooden table, 15 steel kitchen utensils, electric wire, three light bulbs, software, and audio; Courtesy of the Tate; Purchased 2002; Photo: James C. Jackson

Reframed in the context of exile, the word “home” can connote instability, lost identity, and even danger. Hatoum’s complex relationship with domesticity manifests itself in the installation Home. Ordinary kitchen appliances, including a colander, a whisk, and a cheese grater, sit atop a long wooden table. Connected by live electrical wires, the appliances are potentially deadly to the touch. Hatoum’s interpretation of the kitchen as a place of literal danger “shatters notions of the wholesomeness of the home environment.”

Monica Bonvicini, Hammering Out (an old argument), 1998

Monica Bonvicini, Hammering Out (an old argument), 1998; Color video with sound, 18 min., 45 sec.; Collection 49 Nord 6 Est, Frac Lorraine, Metz

Multimedia artist Monica Bonvicini (b. 1965, Venice, Italy) views the built environment as a metaphorical representation of cultural and political constructs, particularly gendered power structures and social class divisions. Bonvicini says, “There is no such thing as a neutral architecture. Nothing is neutral from the moment you open a door and go in somewhere.”

Hammering Out (an old argument) is an 18-minute video in which a woman’s arm repeatedly strikes a wall with a mallet. The wall’s underlying brick foundation is gradually exposed, symbolizing the hidden ideologies within the architecture. While inherently violent, the act of destruction can also be empowering and liberating. Within the context of Women House, this video demonstrates a forceful reaction against the restrictive gender roles traditionally associated with the home.

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: 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.