#5WomenArtists Up Close: New-York Historical Society

NMWA’s annual #5WomenArtists campaign calls attention to the fact that women artists remain underrepresented—and their work undervalued—in the art world. Since 2016, more than 11,000 individuals and 1,000 organizations have participated. This year, we asked cultural institutions to commit to actions that will advance gender equity in the arts. Hear from Dr. Valerie Paley, senior vice president, chief historian, and director of the Center for Women’s History (CWH) at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library (NYHS), about her institution’s commitments—and get inspired to make your own.

Is this the New-York Historical Society’s first year participating in #5WomenArtists?

In previous years we have shared social media posts for #5WomenArtists during Women’s History Month, but this is the first year we are committed to participating throughout the year via our pledged actions. We’re excited to introduce our audiences to some incredible women artists they might never have heard of.

Why is the #5WomenArtists campaign important to the New-York Historical Society?

An old washboard with a small circular clock affixed to the top, followed by the phrase "Extreme Times Call for Extreme Heroines" printed in block letters below it, followed by mammy figure carved out of wood and holding a machine gun and mop.

Betye Saar, Extreme Times Call for Extreme Heroines, 2017; Mixed media and wood figure on vintage washboard, clock; Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, CA; Photo by Robert Wedemeyer

Every month is Women’s History Month at the CWH, as our scholars are continuously working to amplify the stories of women who have been forgotten or undervalued in history. This year in particular, many of the exhibitions and programs at both the CWH and the museum focus on women artists—a group largely underrepresented, particularly women artists of color.

#5WomenArtists allows figures like Augusta Savage, for example, to reach a wider audience. She was an influential artist, educator, and community organizer during the Harlem Renaissance. But little of her work survived, and she has gone largely unacknowledged.

Tell us about your pledged action(s).

NYHS will mount four exhibitions throughout 2019 that highlight the work of women artists. NYHS artist-in-residence Bettina von Zwehl is featured in Meditations in an Emergency, on view through April 28; Betye Saar: Keepin’ It Clean is on view through May 27; Augusta Savage: Renaissance Women opens May 3; and LIFE’s Women opens June 28.

We will also share stories of women artists on our blog, Women at the Center, and in our public programs. This spring, we will showcase products exclusively by women artists, makers, and designers through our Designing Women Market at the NYHistory Store.

Which women artists will you be highlighting? Can you share any fun facts about them or their art? 

We are excited to showcase the artists in our four exhibitions, as well as six women photographers from LIFE magazine’s vital years who have gone largely unacknowledged. I am thrilled to exhibit the work of 92-year-old Saar, who has used her art to express the themes of racial justice and feminism. Although Saar is well known, no large museum in New York City has ever given her a full retrospective, so this show is a great step in the right direction.

Also, in our permanent Gallery of Tiffany Lamps, we highlight the work of Clara Driscoll, Louis C. Tiffany’s head designer, who managed a team of more than 30 women glass-cutters. Their work was critical to the success of the Tiffany lamp.

A room full of Tiffany lamps, all lit and on display at the NY Historical Society

Gallery of Tiffany Lamps; Photo by Jon Wallen; Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society

Some critics have called the renewed focus on women artists a “trend”—from your institutional perspective, how will you maintain the energy of this initiative beyond March?

The CWH’s commitment to honoring and expressing women’s influence on society, politics, and culture is ongoing. In a larger sense, I would hardly call this a “trend,” but rather, a correction. Year-round, our exhibitions in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery feature a rotation of shows that cover not only women’s history, but women’s artistic output.

—Dr. Valerie Paley is the senior vice president, chief historian, and director of the Center for Women’s History at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library; Alicia Gregory is the assistant editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: March 15, 2019

A screen-print image depicting four women farm workers wearing bandannas over their nose and mouth, hats, and work gloves; they are juxtaposed with a slightly more transparent image of activist Dolores Huerta holding up a protest sign over her head. Horizontal text at the bottom center reads: "Women's Work is Never Done," vertical text on the right reads: "California Broccoli Harvest: 1995," and vertical text on the left reads "Homenaje a Dolores Huerta: 1965" or, "Tribute to Dolores Huerta: 1965."

The Brooklyn Museum highlights artist-activist Yolanda Lopez on International Women’s Day with her visual tribute to activist Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers

#5WomenArtists continues this week with over 590 institutional participants since March began! Check out Twitter highlights from International Women’s Day and watch our Instagram takeovers from week one and week two.

We also interviewed JiaJia Fei, director of digital at the Jewish Museum, about her museum’s long history of supporting women artists, as well as their current activities—including a Martha Rosler exhibition, an Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, and an upcoming exhibition on Edith Halpert, the first female gallerist in the U.S. Read the full interview.

Front-Page Femmes

The Art Newspaper reports on the just-released 2019 Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report, which highlights the stark gender imbalance in galleries as well as new efforts to fix it.

Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum has announced two special acquisition funds to help the institution increase its holdings of art by women.

Tate Modern has selected Kara Walker to create the next commission in the museum’s Turbine Hall.

Multidisciplinary artist Michele Oka Doner was announced as the 2019 artist-in-residence at the New York Botanical Garden.

Artsy spotlights Angela Deane and her playful series of painted found pictures, “Ghost Photographs,” in advance of the April publication of her first artist book, The Ghosts Within.

Chicago’s La Femme Dance Festival, which celebrates black women choreographers, kicked off this week.

A black woman dancer stands in a studio with her arms outstretched, eyes closed, and big smile on her face

Dancer Talia Koylass works on contemporary dance titled “Open” for La Femme Dance Festival; Photo courtesy of Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune

United States Artists named Kristy Edmunds the inaugural winner of the Berresford Prize, a new award for the “non-artists [who] make great art possible.”

Hyperallergic reviews The Medea Insurrection at the Albertinum Museum in Dresden, calling it “a cumulative roar against the curtain of silence…that renders invisible the works and lives of women artists everywhere.”

Vietnamese women artists are challenging the country’s conservative gender norms in their work, which, experts say, could lead to a transformation of “broader gender equations in Vietnamese society.”

Saatchi Art and Society6 have teamed up to highlight work by the best-selling women artists in their Refuse to be the Muse campaign.

Check out 25 exciting female graphic designers and illustrators to follow in 2019.

Shows We Want to See

On view at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, California, Sara Kathryn Arledge: Serene for the Moment seeks to restore the artist’s place in history. A prolific painter and innovator of mid-20th century experimental cinema, Arledge’s work was ahead of its time. That, coupled with her struggles with mental illness and the era’s sexism, meant that her work was generally undervalued. The exhibition includes more than 60 of Arledge’s vivid works on paper, seven short films, and a selection of hand-painted glass transparencies.

Seven expressive paintings hang in a white-walled gallery, the shapes of all abstract and energetic, done primarily in yellows, reds, oranges, black, and some blues.

Exhibition view of Sara Kathryn Arledge: Serene for the Moment; Photo courtesy of the Armory Center for the Arts

Opening today at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., Tiffany Chung: Vietnam, Past is Prologue explores “the legacies of the Vietnam War and its aftermath through maps, videos, and paintings that highlight the voice and stories of former Vietnamese refugees.” The artist’s commitment to addressing conflict, migration, and political and natural upheavals is evident as she includes stories that have largely been omitted from official documentation of the period. Chung’s work offers an “alternative story of the war’s ideology and effects.”

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

5 Fast Facts: Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses

As part of NMWA’s #5WomenArtists campaign, impress your friends with five fast facts about Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses (1860–1961), whose work is part of NMWA’s collection.

Grandma Moses pictured in a 1953 edition of the New York World-Telegram and Sun newspaper

Grandma Moses pictured in a 1953 edition of the New York World-Telegram and Sun newspaper; Photo by newspaper staff photographer Roger Higgins. [Public domain]

1. Make it Work

As a self-taught artist working in rural New York, Moses lacked access to high-quality art materials in the early part of her career. Without any small brushes, she used matches and pins to paint details such as eyes and mouths.

2. What’s in a Name?

When Moses first began exhibiting her work, she was simply referred to as Mrs. Moses. An art critic noted in a 1940 New York Herald Tribune review that her neighbors called her Grandma Moses, and the name stuck. Moses had nine grandchildren and over thirty great-grandchildren.

3. Winter Wonderland

In many of her winter landscape paintings, Moses sprinkled glitter over the snow. Though some critics called her amateurish for using a nontraditional material, she refused to stop, as she thought glitter captured the appearance of snow shimmering in sunlight.

4. Moses Mania

Moses’s nostalgic depictions of rural America were widely reproduced. Her paintings were licensed by Hallmark, which sold 16 million greeting cards featuring her paintings in 1947 alone. One could buy fabric and plates printed with images of her paintings, and even a record called “The Grandma Moses Suite.”

A painting of a scenic rural landscape

Grandma Moses, Calhoun, 1955; Oil on pressed wood, 16 x 24 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; © Grandma Moses Properties

5. Telling Her Story

Moses published her autobiography My Life’s History in 1952 at 92 years old. In one chapter, she expressed her distaste for the restrictions placed on her because of her gender, writing, “Many a time I had to rock the cradle; I liked it, but I had rather been outdoors with my brothers.”

—Allison Burns was the summer 2018 education intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

#5WomenArtists Up Close: the Jewish Museum

NMWA’s annual #5WomenArtists campaign calls attention to the fact that women artists remain underrepresented—and their work undervalued—in the art world. Since 2016, more than 11,000 individuals and 1,000 organizations have participated. This year, we asked cultural institutions to commit to actions that will advance gender equity in the arts. Hear from JiaJia Fei, director of digital at the Jewish Museum, about her museum’s commitments—and get inspired to make your own.

Is this the Jewish Museum’s first year participating in #5WomenArtists?

The Jewish Museum has proudly partnered with NMWA on #5WomenArtists since the campaign’s launch in 2016. Like many online movements, #5WomenArtists may have started on social media, but has extended to in-person gatherings, inspiring programming at the Jewish Museum that highlights women artists and brings our online communities together.

JiaJia Fei stands in the center of a room of the Martha Rosler exhibition wearing black pants and a black tshirt that reads "Men Have Made a Lot of Bad Art" with her right hand up with peace fingers.

JiaJia Fei at the Jewish Museum’s Martha Rosler exhibition

Why is the #5WomenArtists campaign important to the Jewish Museum?

The Jewish Museum has a long history of supporting women artists, from offering the museum’s first solo exhibition to Helen Frankenthaler in the 1960s, to major surveys of work by Eva Hesse (2006), Louise Nevelson (2007), Maira Kalman (2011), Florine Stettheimer (2017) and most recently, a survey on Martha Rosler (2018)—but there is still more work to be done. Our digital platforms offer the opportunity to amplify the work of women artists in our collection even further, and allow us to highlight works not on view.

Tell us about your pledged action(s).

The Jewish Museum just organized its second Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, in partnership with Art+Feminism, to improve the representation of women artists in the museum’s collection on Wikipedia. It brought dozens of participants together to combat the gender imbalance on Wikipedia, and, by extension, the art world. We will also feature women artists on our social media channels and Medium stories, as well as merchandise made by women in our shop.

Which women artists will you be highlighting? Can you share any fun facts about them or their art?

This year we’re highlighting women artists on view in Scenes from the Collection, including Elaine Lustig Cohen, Chantal Joffe, Deborah Kass, and Louise Nevelson. Our iconic OY/YO (2016) sculpture by Deborah Kass, although three feet wide in the gallery, also comes in adorable reproductions as keychains, earrings, cufflinks, necklaces, t-shirts, and baby onesies in the shop.

Two female participants at the Jewish Museum’s March 3, 2019, Wikipedia-Edit-a-thon, wearing “OY/YO” t-shirts--the photos shows them from the back.

Two participants at the Jewish Museum’s March 3, 2019, Wikipedia-Edit-a-thon, wearing “OY/YO” t-shirts inspired by the Deborah Kass sculpture

Some critics have called the renewed focus on women artists a “trend”—from your institutional perspective, how will you maintain the energy of this initiative beyond March?

Until women—including women of color—are adequately represented in the art world as artists, curators, and directors, the focus on elevating the work of women should continue with urgency. The Jewish Museum will continue to celebrate the legacies of women like art dealer Edith Halpert, the subject of our exhibition in fall 2019. As the first significant female gallerist in the United States, she supported women and immigrants, and hers was the first gallery in New York City to promote the work of African American artists. Until all of these voices are represented, the conversation will continue to be incomplete.

—JiaJia Fei is the director of digital at the Jewish Museum; Alicia Gregory is the assistant editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Art Fix Friday: March 8, 2019

A #5WomenArtists graphic with a quote that says: "My teachers always said, 'You're very talented, but don't set your heart on art. You're only a girl." - Carolee Schneeman

Download and share #5WomenArtists quotes, facts, and pledge graphics

We’re wrapping up our first week of #5WomenArtists with over 450 institutional participants sharing their commitments to advancing gender equity in the arts, along with countless stories of women artists throughout history. Check out a profile of the campaign in Forbes.

This week we interviewed North Carolina Museum of Art Director Dr. Valerie Hillings on her museum’s commitments, and we shared 5 Fast Facts about the life and work of Magdalena Abakanowicz. Join the conversation: #5WomenArtists, @WomenInTheArts.

Front-Page Femmes

New York City has announced it will honor Billie Holiday, Helen Rodríguez Trías, Elizabeth Jennings Graham, and Katherine Walker with statues in their home boroughs—an effort to right the “glaring” gender imbalance in the city’s public memorials.

Get to know 5 female artists from Hong Kong who are shaking up the art scene with their “bold, boundary-breaking work.”

Koyo Kouoh has been named executive director and chief curator of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, following the resignation of Mark Coetzee after claims of misconduct.

Pioneering painter, performance artist, and filmmaker Carolee Schneemann, who reimagined the body as an artistic medium, has died at the age of 79.

A photograph of Carolee Schneemann at age 78, staring candidly at the camera in front of one of her works--slightly blurred in the background, a topless woman seemingly holding something at waist level.

Carolee Schneemann at the opening of her exhibition in Frankfurt Germany in 2017; © dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo

Hyperallergic reviews the Armory Show 2019, noting the “uptick in artworks by women and people of color,” including Stephanie Syjuco and Caitlin Cherry.

Inked magazine profiles 10 female tattoo artists who changed the industry—starting with “the OG artist” Maud Wagner who worked in the 1900s.

The New York Times “Overlooked” series profiles Julia Morgan, the pioneering female architect who was a prolific designer of hundreds of buildings, including Hearst Castle.

The Guardian interviews Betty Tompkins, whose explicit paintings inspired by pornography are finally being celebrated. They are “taking an abusive history and repurposing it.”

Femmes Film Festival Dubai kicks off this month with a focus on female directors and an international photography exhibition by women artists.

Rapper, actor, and Crazy Rich Asians star Awkwafina has a new show coming to Comedy Central—and her writer’s room will be all women.

Shows We Want to See

A painting by Alicia McCarthy, comprising of countless rainbow lines in square shapes inside of one another.

Alicia McCarthy, Untitled, 2016, gouache, latex paint, and spray paint on wood panel; Image courtesy of the artist and Jack Hanley Gallery

In Columbus, Alicia McCarthy: No Straight Lines is on view at the Wexner Center for the Arts, featuring the artist’s abstract works influenced by punk and queer subcultures, graffiti, and folk art. McCarthy has said, “I want my work to reflect all the beauty and pain of everyday life. All woven together and interconnecting to create [images] based in line and color.” McCarthy used surplus paint from leftover Wexner exhibits to create the works, emphasizing her commitment to using recycled materials. On view through
August 1.

Lisa Reihana’s video installation in Pursuit of Venus [infected] comes to the Honolulu Museum of Art where it reinterprets the 19th-century decorative wallpaper Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique, which is in the museum’s collection. Reihana’s “animated encounters between European visitors and Pacific people play out against the wallpaper’s picturesque backdrop, disrupting historical narratives and challenging stereotypes that originated in the myths of empire.” On view through July 14.

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

5 Fast Facts: Magdalena Abakanowicz

As part of NMWA’s #5WomenArtists campaign, impress your friends with five fast facts about artist Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930–2017), whose work is part of NMWA’s collection.

A large red, circular, sculpture of textured cloth hangs from the ceiling of a gallery.

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Abakan Red, 1969, pictured in NMWA’s 2007 WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution exhibition; sisal weaving on metal support; Collection of the Museum Bellerive, Zurich

1. The Horrors of War

When she was only nine years old, Abakanowicz’s beloved surroundings in Poland became a war zone under Nazi occupation during World War II. She witnessed her mother being shot in the arm by German soldiers. Throughout her career, she would be driven by a universal truth: “Humans could accomplish so much while also being responsible for their own fall.”

2. Breakthrough

After starting her career as a painter in the 1950s, Abakanowicz moved on to textiles, winning the Grand Prix of the São Paulo Biennial in 1965 for her first major body of work, Abakans (ca. 1960s)—large-scale, three-dimensional, soft sculptures. Using her memories of nature and war, Abakanowicz astonished her audiences with these “complicated, huge, magical forms.”

3. One with Nature

Natural elements, miniature and massive, inspired Abakanowicz. While making the gouache Fish (1955–56), she recalls being “provoked by an inexplicable inner process, a force only apparently understood.” Works like Bois-le-Duc (1970–71) evoke monumental tree trunks and may reflect her whimsical inquisitiveness as a youth exploring Polish forests.

4. Humanizing War

Continually influenced by the effects of war, Abakanowicz began scaling her work down to human proportions. In 4 Seated Figures (2002), part of NMWA’s collection, a row of androgynous figures appear hollow, exposed, and fragmented. Using rough burlap to portray a worn exterior, she evokes the vulnerability of victims of war.

Magdalena Abakanowicz, 4 Seated Figures, 2002; Burlap, resin, and iron rods, 53 1/2 x 24 1/4 x 99 1/4 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts; © Magdalena Abakanowicz

Magdalena Abakanowicz, 4 Seated Figures, 2002; Burlap, resin, and iron rods, 53 1/2 x 24 1/4 x 99 1/4 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts; © Magdalena Abakanowicz

5. Public Art 

NMWA’s New York Avenue Sculpture Project, a public art space featuring contemporary works by women artists, featured Abakanowicz’s figurative sculptures from September 2014 to September 2015. Her work Agora (2004–2006), an installation of 106 headless and armless iron sculptures, is on permanent loan in Chicago’s Grant Park from the Polish Ministry of Culture.

—Olivia Lussi was the fall 2016 education intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts and Adrienne L. Gayoso is the senior educator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

#5WomenArtists Up Close: North Carolina Museum of Art

NMWA’s annual #5WomenArtists campaign calls attention to the fact that women artists remain underrepresented—and their work undervalued—in the art world. Since 2016, more than 11,000 individuals and 1,000 organizations have participated. This year, we asked cultural institutions to commit to actions that will advance gender equity in the arts. Hear from Dr. Valerie Hillings, director of the North Carolina Museum of Art, about her museum’s commitments—and get inspired to make your own.

Is this the North Carolina Museum of Art’s first year participating in #5WomenArtists?

This is our second year of showcasing female artists in our collection as part of the #5WomenArtists campaign. Our collection includes works by Yayoi Kusama, Georgia O’Keeffe, Mickalene Thomas, Louise Bourgeois, Harriet Hosmer, and more. On social media we spotlight the history, process, and impact of these important artists to encourage conversation.

A wide-angle shot of hundreds of women holding up Guerrilla Girls masks in front of their faces

As part of Take Up Space: Women’s Weekend at the NCMA, the Guerrilla Girls will offer a poster-making workshop on March 9 at the North Carolina Museum of Art; Photo: Guerrilla Girls, Wealth & Power, 2016

Why is the #5WomenArtists campaign important to the North Carolina Museum of Art?

Last January, we launched our #MatronsOfTheArts initiative that supports acquisitions, exhibitions, and programs by and about female artists. Like #5WomenArtists, it celebrates the invaluable role women have played and continue to play in the arts by telling a broader, more inclusive story.

Tell us about your pledged action(s).

This year, in celebration of International Women’s Day, we will host three days of inclusive, imaginative, thought-provoking, and fun events at Take Up Space: Women’s Weekend at the NCMA. Programs include artist collective the Guerrilla Girls, artist-led tours, yoga, workshops, a pop-up chorus, and more, to activate, empower, and nurture. Matrons of the Arts sponsors this initiative to engage across the gender spectrum, including trans women and nonbinary individuals. Men and children are encouraged to attend.

Which women artists will you be highlighting? Can you share any fun facts about them or their art? 

A vertical oil painting in earthy colors of a woman with black hair who seems to be mid-move in a dance, her left hand pointing up to the sky, her right placed on her head with her head tilted to the right, her feet on her tip toes. She wears a patterned yellow blouse and a patterned long skirt in teal.

Hayv Kahraman, Kawliya 1, 2014; Oil on linen, 96 x 48 in.; On view at the North Carolina Museum of Art; Purchased with funds from the bequest of Fannie and Alan Leslie, by exchange; Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Museum of Art

We’ve installed a new gallery that features portraits of women by women artists. It also highlights works of art we’ve acquired in the past 15 years that focus on female identity and tradition, power, and transformation. For example, the personal history of Iraqi artist Hayv Kahraman (b. 1981) informs her paintings. Her family fled Bagdad in 1992 and found refuge in Sweden, before Kahraman moved to Italy to study design. She is now settled in the U.S. This displacement exposed her to artistic influences that can be seen in her images—Japanese scroll painting, Italian Renaissance portraits, and Persian miniatures. Her work Kawliya 1 (2014) is named after a traditional Iraqi dance Kahraman experienced as a young girl. She has celebrated this memory as a touchstone to her childhood and a reminder of her ongoing search for a place to call home.

Some critics have called the renewed focus on women artists a “trend”—how will you maintain the energy of this initiative beyond March?

We’re committed to leading conversations throughout the year to amplify under-represented voices in the arts. We know we have more work to do. We want our collection, programs, exhibitions, and staff to reflect the diversity of the people we serve, in the state of North Carolina and the world beyond.

—Dr. Valerie Hillings is the director of the North Carolina Museum of Art; Alicia Gregory is the assistant editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Art Fix Friday: March 1, 2019

Happy Women’s History Month! NMWA’s annual #5WomenArtists campaign kicks off today, challenging individuals and cultural institutions to take action toward achieving gender equity in the art world.

A woman stares at a gallery wall of blank white frames, above her head the question "Can you name five women artists?" is written in bold green type. At the bottom of the image the statement "Most people we asked could not." is written in white text, followed by the #5WomenArtists hashtag.

The #5WomenArtists campaign is back for a fourth year, this time with a new call for action

Now in its fourth year, the campaign has engaged 11,000 people and 1,000 organizations in highlighting the fact that women artists remain underrepresented—and their work undervalued—in the art world. Learn and share some shocking facts and figures, and join us all month long: you can publicly pledge to support women artists, and share stories about your favorite women artists by using #5WomenArtists and tagging @WomenIntheArts.

Front-Page Femmes

United Airlines launches HerArtHere, a new contest for female artists to design the exterior of a Boeing 757 airplane. Two winners will be selected and mentored by artist Shantell Martin.

Apollo magazine looks at why “the disadvantages of being a woman artist haven’t yet disappeared.”

Artsy explores the role of jewelry in women’s portraiture, calling it a “complex signifier” of wealth, refinement, authority, and politics.

At this year’s Park Avenue Armory Art Fair, “uncompromising female artists dominate in the top booths,” including Judith Linhares, Annabeth Rosen, and Alice Neel.

Christie’s profiles 82-year-old artist Arpita Singh, “the next really big thing for Indian art.”

A photo of artist Arpita Singh painting in her studio. She holds a pallet of mixed blues and has her brush raised to the canvas.

Arpita Singh at work in her studio; Photo courtesy of the artist and Vadehra Art Gallery

The Art Newspaper podcast talks to Alyce Mahon, curator of the Tate Modern’s new Dorothea Tanning exhibition.

Turkish artist and journalist Zehra Doğa is released from prison after serving 25 months for posting a picture of an anti-war painting to social media.

Jordan Casteel speaks to Art21 about how her paintings are changing the narrative about black men.

Hyperallergic reviews Flying High: Women Artists of Art Brut, now on view in Vienna, Austria, comprising more than 300 works from 93 self-taught women artists.

Essence profiles architectural designer Tiffany Brown, who has helped over 400 black women become licensed architects, and is looking to support 400 more.

The New York City Ballet announced new leadership, including former ballerina Wendy Whelan as associate artistic director, after an institutional reckoning last year with sex-based misconduct.

Shows We Want to See

A circle that contains different patterned and shaped cuts from various quilts.

Adia Millett, quilt from Breaking Patterns; Photo courtesy of the artist

The multimedia works of Oakland-based artist Adia Millett are on view at the California African American Museum in Adia Millett: Breaking Patterns. Millet explores themes of identity, personal memory, and collective history—specifically that of African American women—in collage, assemblage, photography, textiles, and painting. Millett’s process of repurposing materials adds “layers of meaning to her work’s distorted spaces and skewed perspectives.” On view through August 25, 2019.

At the Plains Art Museum in North Dakota, Waasamoo-Beshizi (Power-Lines) features the work of 25 contemporary Native American women artists, recognizing them as “central contributors, shapers, and culture bearers within Native communities…and the narrative of contemporary art.” The exhibition’s title alludes to the shapes of power lines and transmission towers, which resemble dresses. Many of the participating artists “engage with weaving, clothing, and textile traditions while reflecting on culture and identity,” a process that embodies celebration, honor, and remembrance. On view through July 31, 2019.

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

#5WomenArtists: From Awareness to Action

A woman stares at a gallery wall of blank white frames, above her head the question "Can you name five women artists?" is written in bold green type. At the bottom of the image the statement "Most people we asked could not." is written in white text, followed by the #5WomenArtists hashtag.

#5WomenArtists is back for a fourth year, this time with a new call for action

Each March since 2016, the National Museum of Women in the Arts has posed a simple question on social media for Women’s History Month: Can you name five women artists? Using the hashtag #5WomenArtists, the campaign spotlights the lives and work of women artists, historical and contemporary. It also calls attention to the fact that women artists remain dramatically underrepresented—and their work undervalued—in galleries, museums, and auction houses around the world.

To date, more than 11,000 individuals and 1,000 organizations from 47 countries and seven continents have participated in the campaign. This year, we move from awareness to action as we invite museums, galleries, and other cultural institutions to take tangible steps toward advancing gender equity in the arts. Whether you are an individual or part of an institution, there are many ways to play a part in supporting women artists throughout March—and beyond.

Share your pledge on Instagram Stories! Download more templates to use on social media

Check out our list of ideas about how to get started, including these highlights:

For individuals:

  • Learn about gender inequity in the arts through some shocking statistics
  • Download and share ready-made #5WomenArtists graphics on your social media feeds
  • When you see an exhibition/museum/gallery that features few or no women artists, tell the institution that you would like to see more women represented
  • Buy a work of art by a woman artist
  • Start a support group or skill share with other women artists

For institutions:

Get inspired by pledges taken by the Tate, the Jewish Museum, the Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, and others. Other ideas for action include:

  • Determine the ratio of women artists in your collection by conducting a survey
  • Establish a program for women artists in your community (like a networking event, workshop, panel discussion, or scholarship)
  • Acquire a new work by a woman artist for your collection in the next year

To kick off the month, learn more about five women artists featured in NMWA’s programs, exhibitions, and collection:

A graphic depicting photos of five different women artists including: Ambreen Butt, Remedios Varo, Patricia Piccinini, Nikki S. Lee, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith.

Learn more about women artists through NMWA’s artist profiles

Ambreen Butt (b. 1969, Lahore, Pakistan) reimagines traditional Indian and Persian miniature painting to feature contemporary female protagonists and political subject matter.

A refugee two times over, Remedios Varo (b. 1908, Anglès, Spain, d. 1963, Mexico City) settled in Mexico, where she painted fantastical Surrealist works that explored magic, alchemy, and analytical psychology.

Patricia Piccinini (b. 1965, Freetown, Sierra Leone) creates sculptures of hybrid creatures that question the implications of biotechnologies and humanity’s encroachment into “natural” processes.

Nikki S. Lee (b. 1970, Kye-Chang, South Korea) interrogates identity in her photographic works, exploring whether it is possible to move fluidly between cultures.

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (b. 1940, St. Ignatius, Montana) works with paint, collage, and appropriated imagery to comment on the destruction of the environment, governmental oppression of native cultures, and the myths of Euro-American cultural hegemony.

Starting March 1, take the challenge and post about #5WomenArtists on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and tag us @WomenInTheArts. Follow along with the month’s highlights.

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

5 Fast Facts: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

Impress your friends with five fast facts about artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (b.1940), whose work Indian, Indio, Indigenous (1992) is on view in NMWA’s newly reinstalled collection galleries.

1. Cultural Arts Worker

Smith describes herself as a “cultural arts worker” and uses her art to raise awareness of the maltreatment of the Native American community, both historically and today. She uses a combination of traditional tribal motifs and contemporary symbols to call attention to issues regarding human rights, consumerism, and the environment.

A large-scale collage including striped and polka-dotted fabrics; the masthead of Smith's reservation newspaper, Char-Koosta; parts of a U.S. map; and a comic strip. These collaged elements are juxtaposed with blocks of stained or roughly brushed and dripped paint.

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Indian, Indio, Indigenous, 1992; Oil and collage on canvas, 60 x 100 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Museum purchase: Members’ Acquisition Fund; © Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

2. Power in Numbers

Since the 1970s, Smith has curated exhibitions highlighting Native women artists to counteract art world gender imbalance. She recalled that “one woman… laid [an exhibition] catalog against her cheek and cried, she had no idea there were so many Native women artists out there and she no longer felt alone.”

A painted image of a bird with some stick figure faces drawn in the background, the words "Batteries Not Included" are typewritten vertically on the left side. The colors are terracotta neutrals -- brown, tan, red, and orange, with a bit of blue on the bird.

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Four Directions, 1994; Lithograph with linocut collage, 48 1/4 x 34 x 1 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Anastasia Pfarr; © Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

3. Going Green

Smith has described her work as “Nomad Art,” which embodies the ideals of Nomadic life: take only what you need from the earth and respect the materials that you use. Many of her artworks include biodegradable materials like rice glue, charcoal, and rag paper.

4. Horse Power

Horses are a common motif in Smith’s works. This imagery was influenced by her father’s role as a horse trader and rodeo rider in the Pacific Northwest and California. Horses run through Smith’s works such as Trick Rider (1999) and War Horse in Babylon (2005).

5. Pioneering Change

As one of the first Native women to be recognized as a renowned modern and contemporary artist, Smith has stated that “[Her] generation is the first to break the ‘buckskin ceiling.’”

—Erin Allen is the winter/spring 2019 education intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.