Art Fix Friday: March 27, 2020

Artsy profiles Williabell Clayton and Dr. Constance Clayton, a mother-daughter duo who has collected a trove of African American art; the pair spent 50 years buying works by Black artists from auctions, galleries, and thrift shops.

A black and white photograph of an older woman sitting down and staring up at, seemingly, her daughter. They lock hands and the daughter has her other hand on the mother's shoulder.

Portrait of Dr. Constance Clayton and her mother Williabell Clayton; Courtesy of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia

Williabell passed away in 2004, and Constance has continued their legacy, establishing committees and curatorial fellowships aimed at promoting African American artists and young professionals of color pursuing museum roles—in addition to gifting artworks to public institutions. “[She’s] filling gaps in mainstream museum collections that are now looking to add diversity,” said Tammi Lawson, a curator at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Front-Page Femmes

Artforum reports on the permanent closure of Munich’s Barbara Gross Galerie in May; over the past three decades, Gross championed female artists including Silvia Bächli, Miriam Cahn, and VALIE EXPORT.

Artnet interviews doctor and artist Sharon Madanes about how her experiences with art and medicine inform one another.

The New Yorker reviews Emily St. John Mandel’s new novel The Glass Motel, declaring it “a profound study on responsibility in the times of crisis.”

Paper interviews Mimi Zhu, a Chinese Australian writer and artist whose Instagram text was reposted by Britney Spears. Zhu describes her writing as a way to heal from trauma, and says her goal is “centering in on the ethic of love, and the practice of love, and in creating better worlds for all of us.”

An Instagram post featuring a bright orange background and black text that says: "During this time of isolation, we need connection now more than ever. Call your loved ones, write virtual love letters. Technologies like virtual communication, streaming and broadcasting are part of our community collaboration. We will learn to kiss and hold each other through the waves of the web. We wil feed each other, re-distribute wealth, strike. We will understand our own importance from the places we must stay. Communion moves beyond walls. We can still be together." It is signed "Mimi Zhu."

Artist Mimi Zhu’s Instagram post advocating for connection and compassion

Juxtapoz interviews artist Erin M. Riley about her self-care practices during quarantine.

Frieze profiles painter Jutta Koether, the German artist who turned her name into a transitive verb for her latest exhibition.

Artsy profiles seven female photographers redefining Surrealism in contemporary art.

Maria Fernanda Cardoso has been named the recipient of the 2019–20 New Dimensions Fellowship for established visual artists.

Artsy explores Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe’s formative friendship.

Colossal reviews Samantha Moore’s animated short film Bloomers, which recounts the history behind an undergarment business.

Shows We Want To See—Online Edition

Artnet offers a virtual look at two shows by women artists:

Per(Sister): Incarcerated Women of Louisiana, which was on view at the Ford Foundation Gallery in New York City, highlights the stories of 30 incarcerated women to “explore the root causes of female incarceration, the impact of incarcerating mothers, the physical and behavior toll of incarceration, and the challenges of and opportunities for reentry for formerly incarcerated women.”

A black and white photo of a naked woman holding what looks to be the bones of a broken umbrella and staring surprised at the camera.

Carolee Schneemann, from the series “Eye Body: 36 Transformative Actions for Camera,” 1963; Courtesy of the estate of Carolee Schneemann, Galerie Lelong & Co., Hales Gallery, PPOW New York

Up to and Including Limits: After Carolee Schneemann, which was on view at Museum Susch in Switzerland, features the work of the pioneering artist situated in conversation and contention with works by other body-based performance and visual artists. “This exhibition is driven by limits, both in media and society: how they can be overcome, transformed, and transgressed through time” says curator Sabine Breitweiser.

Google Arts & Culture has teamed up with 33 museums to host an epic digital exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s work—including Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky, part of NMWA’s collection. Faces of Frida features more than 200 works in addition to editorial features that discuss aspects of the artist’s work and life and archival materials.

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

Director’s Desk: A Letter From Susan Fisher Sterling

Yael Bartana, What if Women Ruled the World, 2016; Neon, 98 1/2 x 38 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Museum purchase, Belinda de Gaudemar Acquisition Fund, with additional support from the Members’ Acquisition Fund; © Yael Bartana; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Yael Bartana, What if Women Ruled the World, 2016; Neon, 98 1/2 x 38 1/2 in.; NMWA, Museum purchase, Belinda de Gaudemar Acquisition Fund, with additional support from the Members’ Acquisition Fund; © Yael Bartana; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Unfortunately, I don’t have a way to fix the world right now. The museum is now nearly two weeks into an unprecedented closure—public health requires that museums, along with performance halls, movie theaters, and sports arenas join together to close our doors and slow the spread of coronavirus. During this unsettling period of isolation, though, we need to connect with one another more than ever, and I believe that the arts can provide that bridge.

In that spirit, I wanted to reach out to say that NMWA is here for you. We hope that in the days ahead, the museum and its art will become welcome resources as we face the impact of this coronavirus.

We realize that art is best experienced in person—it offers powerful ways for us to visualize our shared humanity, and museums have often served as places of refuge and solace. It is truly unprecedented and paradoxical that now, when we need it most, we are unable to physically come together to experience all that great art has to offer. Thank goodness so many of us have the capacity to share digitally…and share we shall!

Although NMWA is temporarily closed, we stand with our communities—both here and around the world. We are available online with artists, objects, and stories to lift the spirit, inspire the soul, and champion women artists.

Our new resource NMWA@Home is now up on our website, so please visit us. We are open online 24/7 with rich content that shares our collection and programming with audiences whenever and wherever they are ready to engage with us. NMWA’s staff is working to enhance our online offerings for children, students, families, and adults. We look forward to sharing new materials with you regularly in the coming days and weeks.

We value your participation and appreciate your comments and opinions, so please continue to share with us on social media. Connection is more important than ever.

Looking forward to hearing from you, and sending heartfelt wishes for your well-being.

Susan Fisher Sterling
The Alice West Director

5 Fast Facts about #5WomenArtists Changing the World: Rosângela Rennó

Brazilian artist Rosângela Rennó (b. 1962) works with discarded photographs found in flea markets, family albums, newspapers, and public archives to question the nature and symbolic value of an image. Her works shed light on the overlooked narratives of everyday people—including migrants and immigrants—throughout history and in times of political and social unrest.

A man, woman, and small child stand in the desert amidst an array of polished metal car parts including hubcaps, a spotlight fixture for a truck, handrails, and other unidentifiable materials. The man smiles at the camera while holding the small child, who has her hair in two pigtails. The woman stands close to them but unsmiling. To the left of the family the words "Estado de Mexico" are written in yellow type. A cluster of tall, lean green trees are in the background.

Rosãngela Rennó, United States (Mexican Series), Estado de México, 1999; Iris prints on sommerset paper, 17 x 23 in.; NMWA, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection; © Rosângela Rennó, photo Eduardo Zepeda, courtesy of the artist and InSite

Share your favorite women artists working for immigrants’ rights on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook using the hashtag #5WomenArtists and tagging @WomenInTheArts.

1. The Ghosts of Brasília

In 1994, Rennó created the installation Immemorial for the group exhibition Relooking at Brasília. Instead of celebrating Brazil’s capital city, built rapidly between 1957 and 1960, Rennó faced its dark history. Overwhelming numbers of the project’s migrant workers—including women and children—fell to their deaths from the construction scaffolding. Rennó mined 50 worker identification photos from forgotten files and arranged the portraits like graves in a cemetery. Immemorial represents “a redemptive gesture, a resurrection of fallen bodies, those sacrificed in the building of the future.”

2. United States (Mexican Series)

Rennó worked with wedding portrait photographer Eduardo Zepeda on United States (Mexican Series) (1997–99), a public art project first displayed in shop windows in Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, California. This suite of photographs shows people who had journeyed to Tijuana from Mexico’s 16 states, presumably to cross into the U.S. They are photographed in front of their workplaces in Tijuana, and an accompanying map indicates their places of origin. The work’s title deliberately—and ironically—alludes to the longstanding conflict surrounding migration and the heavy policing of the U.S.–Mexico border.

3. Reflections on a Colonial Past

In her video Vera Cruz (2000), Rennó appropriates a letter written by Portuguese knight Pêro Vaz de Caminha in 1500 about “discovering” Brazil. Rennó translated the letter into subtitles that play over a bleached background filled with scratches. The blank film alludes to the inability of the European and Indigenous peoples to understand each other. While Caminha’s letter has been described as reflecting “a deep sense of humanism,” history shows that colonization “brought about a savage suppression of traditional ways and freedoms.”

Renno_US3

Rosãngela Rennó, United States (Mexican Series), San Luís Potosí, 1999; Iris prints on sommerset paper, 17 x 23 in.; NMWA, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection; © Rosângela Rennó, photo Eduardo Zepeda, courtesy of the artist and InSite

Renno_US2

Rosãngela Rennó, United States (Mexican Series), Oaxaca, 1999; Iris prints on sommerset paper, 17 x 23 in.; NMWA, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection; © Rosângela Rennó, photo Eduardo Zepeda, courtesy of the artist and InSite

Renno_US1

Rosãngela Rennó, United States (Mexican Series), Michoacán, 1999; Iris prints on sommerset paper, 17 x 23 in.; NMWA, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection; © Rosângela Rennó, photo Eduardo Zepeda, courtesy of the artist and InSite

4. Hidden Histories

In 2016, Rennó presented Rio Montevideo, featuring images from the salvaged archives of the Uruguayan newspaper El Popular (published from 1957 to 1973). Photojournalist Aurelio González hid 48,626 negatives in the walls of the paper’s office to “save a record of the nation” before Uruguay’s military coup in 1973; this evidence of daily life and political unrest likely would have been destroyed otherwise. Her work raises compelling questions: What other visual narratives throughout history have been lost, hidden, or destroyed? Whose stories are not told?

5. Relearning to See

“The world will always have too many photographs,” Rennó has said. By working with found imagery, the artist brings new consideration to forgotten images and invites viewers to look closely. Perhaps, in that act, viewers can develop a deeper understanding of history’s obscured narratives and, in Rennó’s words, “the little stories of the downtrodden and the vanquished.”

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

Portraying Gender in Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico

One of the most influential contemporary photographers of Latin America, Graciela Iturbide has produced majestic and powerful images of her native Mexico for the past 50 years. Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico is the artist’s most extensive U.S. exhibition in more than two decades, comprising 140 black-and-white prints that reveal the artist’s own journey to understand her homeland and the world.

A black and white photo of four women outside on the side of a bright building in traditional embroidered tops, lace skirts, and flower head pieces move in a semi circle in various stages of dance.

Graciela Iturbide, Baile (Dance), Juchitán, 1986; Gelatin silver print, 8 x 12 in.; Courtesy of the artist; © Graciela Iturbide

In 1979, Graciela Iturbide (b. 1942) traveled to Juchitán, a small town in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, to photograph the Zapotec indigenous group. For nearly a decade, she immersed herself in the community during a series of visits, spending long periods with Zapotec women and cultivating friendships. Rather than merely document the people from an outsider’s perspective, Iturbide photographed her own interactions and encounters with the community. “I need to be close to the people…I need their complicity,” Iturbide has said. Her photographs are a conversation with the people of Juchitán, who convey their social structures and cultural practices to the artist on their own terms.

Iturbide’s Juchitán photographs highlight the culture’s powerful women and muxes, men who identify as women, a third gender that has been acknowledged and celebrated since pre-Hispanic times. In Juchitec society, women hold significant political, economic, and spiritual power. Muxes are similarly revered in Zapotec culture—they are believed to have special intellectual and artistic gifts. Iturbide’s photographs do not objectify or exoticize; instead, they depict respectful, poetic interactions.

Our Lady of the Iguanas

Our Lady of the Iguanas (Nuestra Señora de las Iguanas), Juchitán (1979) expresses the independence of the community’s women and their complex identities. 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. “The photographer’s job is to synthesize, to make strong and poetic work from daily life,” said Iturbide. This image captures both the strong and the poetic, while celebrating the diverse cultural heritage of Zapotec women.

Iturbide_Our Lady of the Iguanas

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

Iturbide_Magnolia with Sombrero

Graciela Iturbide, Magnolia con sombrero (Magnolia with Sombrero), Juchitán, 1986; Gelatin silver print, 12 x 8 in.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum purchase with funds donated by John and Cynthia Reed, Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund, Barbara M. Marshall Fund, Lucy Dalbiac Luard Fund, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund for Photography, Francis Welch Fund, and Jane M. Rabb Fund for Film and Photography; © Graciela Iturbide; Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Magnolia with Sombrero

As she does in other portraits, Iturbide photographs muxes on their own terms. Magnolia con sombrero (Magnolia with Sombrero), Juchitán (1986), and additional images of Magnolia, were taken at her request. She holds out her dress for Iturbide’s camera and smiles as she displays the lace detail. Magnolia is at ease as she proudly poses; Iturbide’s presence is not an intrusion. The image conveys Magnolia’s personality and confidence, rather than exoticizing her societal position.

In her images from Juchitán, Iturbide reveals her subjects’ full and complex humanity. These photographs celebrate and acknowledge the rich culture of the Zapotec through an empathetic lens.

*Unless otherwise noted, information is adapted from Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico: Photographs, by Kristen Gresh, with an essay by Guillermo Sheridan.

—Hannah Southern was the fall 2019 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts; Alicia Gregory is the assistant editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Art Fix Friday: March 20, 2020

A hand sanitizer wall contraption on a white background.

Zoë Sheehan Saldaña, Hand Sanitizer, 2010; Courtesy of Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

Observer profiles artist Zoë Sheehan Saldaña, whose conceptual work has taken on new meaning during the Coronavirus pandemic. For years, Saldaña has made hand sanitizer and other commonplace objects as an “investigation into the everyday craftsmanship we take for granted.” The artist’s most recent batch was created for her exhibition There Must Be Some Way Out of Here at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, which recently closed due to the virus.   

“The work has changed meaning from experimentation to urgency—people were initially disinfecting out of curiosity, but lately it was a result of need,” said Cybele Maylone, executive director of the Aldrich.  

Front-Page Femmes 

London’s National Gallery has postponed its Artemisia Gentileschi exhibition, scheduled to open April 4, because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Artsy profiles Ilana Harris-Babou, who turns cultural preoccupations with cooking shows, self-improvement, design, and the beauty industry into surreal videos and sculptures. 

The New Yorker profiles Fiona Apple on the cusp of releasing a new album. “It felt more like a sculpture being built than an album being made,” said Apple’s bandmate.  

Tate Modern announced that Anicka Yi, whose works address migration, gender, and class, has been selected for the next Hyundai Commission for Turbine Hall.  

Juxtapoz interviews sculptor Rose Neslter about the ways people communicate their identities through fashion.   

A fabric sculpture of a fitted suit jacket hung on a wall, with elongated arm/gloves reaching the floor.

Rose Nestler, Another Set of Hands, 2019; Courtesy of the artist

Colossal profiles baker Hannah P., who works at the intersection of art and food transforming loaves into edible canvases. 

British performance artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge has died at age seventy; Artnews celebrates the artist’s legacy by examining six of their works.

Artsy profiles Lygia Clark in the 100th anniversary year of her birth; three international solo exhibitions are planned in celebration of her legacy this year.   

Artnet interviews artist-couple Carrie Moyer and Sheila Pepe about their joint show at the Portland Museum of Art in Maine.   

French-American actress and director Tonie Marshall has died at age 68; she was only female director to win a César award, France’s equivalent of an Oscar  

Shows We Want To See—Online Edition 

As galleries and museums around the world close over the spread of the Coronavirus, writer-curators Barbara Pollack and Anne Verhallen have organized an online group show  responding to the crisis. How Can We Think of Art in a Time Like This features work by Lynn Hershman Leeson, Judith Bernstein, Janet Biggs, Miao Ying, and more. “There is always something going on in the world that seems to overshadow creative effort, and yet it’s so important for creative effort to continue, said Pollack. New artists will be added weekly.  

Artist Ebony Patterson stands in front of her garden installation, a lush arrangement of white red and yellow flowers, speaking at the opening of the exhibition.

Ebony G. Patterson speaks at the opening of . . . while the dew is still on the roses . . . at the Nasher Museum of Art; Photo by J Caldwell

Artnet offers a virtual look at Ebony G. Patterson…while the dew is still on the roses…, which was on view at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in North Carolina. Patterson’s neo-baroque works “address violence, masculinity, ‘bling,’ visibility, and invisibility within the post-colonial context of her native Kingston and within black youth culture globally.” The lush installation explores the role gardens have played in Patterson’s practice as sites of growth and burial, beauty and decay.  

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

5 Fast Facts About #5WomenArtists Changing the World: Kara Walker

Multidisciplinary artist Kara Walker (b. 1969) candidly investigates topics of race, gender, sexuality, and violence. While best known for her panoramic, cut-paper silhouettes, she has also produced large-scale sculptural installations, videos, paintings, and shadow puppets that address the history—and psychological impacts—of American slavery and racism.

An open spread of a pop-up book featuring one of Walker's signature black-and-white cut-paper silhouettes which shows a female slave holding a bucket to, presumably, her master, who sits on, presumably, a big pile of cotton while a young boy slave is on the other side holding a bag of cotton. In the distance another female slave picks cotton in front of a heap. Text from the narrative is positioned on both the right and left pages in the upper corners.

Kara Walker, Freedom, A Fable: A Curious Interpretation of the Wit of a Negress in Troubled Times, 1997; Ink on paper, laser-cut black card stock, leather binding, 8 1/4 x 9 1/2 in.; NMWA; © Ellie Bronson

Share your favorite women artists working for racial justice on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook using the hashtag #5WomenArtists and tagging @WomenInTheArts.

1. All Consuming

Walker does not believe that her provocative and historically inspired art “deals with history,” but rather that it responds to history. “Embedded in that statement, ‘Kara Walker is dealing with history,’ is this…desire for a hero who can fix this problem of our history and racism,” says Walker in an Art21 interview. “I don’t think my work is actually effectively dealing with history. I think of my work as subsumed…or consumed by history.”

2. Artist/Author

Walker often includes writing and storytelling in her artwork. Her pop-up book Freedom, A Fable: A Curious Interpretation of the Wit of a Negress in Troubled Times (1997), part of NMWA’s artists’ book collection, tells the story of a freed female slave. And in 2001, Walker created a series of short, diary-like writings on index cards that were exhibited in American Primitive at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. One card reads, “We are Superman. Venus, Oprah, Toni, Angela, Tina, Serena, Kara…We End in Vowel sounds and Our names Last Forever when you speak them aaah!”

3. Socially Aware Curator

In 2006, the Metropolitan Museum of Art invited Walker to curate an exhibition using its permanent collection. Walker titled the show After the Deluge as a response to the horrors of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. She juxtaposed paintings of churning water, including Winslow Homer’s Gulf Stream (1899), with her own print portfolio to address the external forces that shape and transform Black life, including “the sea, the slave trade, and the failure of retaining walls.”

4. Illustrating a Libretto

In 2011, Walker’s friend Alicia Hall Moran was cast as Bess in the opera Porgy and Bess. Walker sat in on run-throughs to sketch the show and was eventually asked to create illustrations for a limited-edition libretto. The resulting sixteen lithographs are “…more an homage to the feeling of the music” rather than addressing the show’s stereotypical portrayals of African Americans. Walker notes that Porgy and Bess “lives in a murky place in popular culture and personal reflection.”

Embed from Getty Images

5. Unsweet History

In 2014, Walker and her team built the monumental sugar sculpture A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby in the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn. The giant sphinx was a monument to the slaves whose labor built the sugar industry. In the heat of the summer, the sphinx and the smaller life-size sculptures of children began to melt. “I really love the fact of these figures melting and dripping,” said Walker. “[The figures and the factory are] still sort of weeping the substance.”

—Hannah Southern is the fall 2019 publications and communications intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: March 13, 2020

Artsy profiles seven women collectors who are making the art world more diverse. These women share a resolve to bring their private passion for art to a wider audience, taking art out of their living rooms and into the realm of public discourse.

A photo of three stylish black women posing together and smiling at the camera inside a large exhibition hall.

Makgati Molebatsi (center) with International Jazz Day Director Brenda Sisane (left) and visual artist Adejoke Tugbiyele (right); Molebatsi is a South African art collector and advisor who regularly gives presentations to educate and cultivate collectors at auction houses, fairs, and private events like those organized by the Black Collectors Forum; Image courtesy of LATITUDES Art Fair

San Francisco–based gallerist Wendi Norris says, “Their commitment goes beyond acquisition and display of the artworks…there’s a devotion and a financial commitment to education and accessibility to a greater group of people who couldn’t otherwise have access to it.”

Front-Page Femmes

Slate interviews Emma director Autumn de Wilde about how working with rock stars like Jenny Lewis and Florence and the Machine prepared her for her feature debut.

The New York Times profiles architect Deanna Van Buren, who designs civic spaces that are healing alternatives to correctional facilities.

Emma Talbot has won the eighth Max Mara Art Prize for Women, a biennial award that supports U.K.-based female artists who have not previously had a major solo exhibition.

Art Daily profiles Roya Sadat, an Afghan filmmaker who explores themes surrounding Afghan womanhood in her films.

Hyperallergic interviews Rose B. Simpson about her relationship to the American Southwest and how it manifests in her artistic practice.

A photo of an artist working in her studio on two knee-high sculptures of what look to be human figures.

Rose B. Simpson at work in her studio; Image courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery

The New Yorker explores one writer’s culinary experience using Georgia O’Keeffe’s “California hippie cuisine” recipes.

Frieze profiles Lily van der Stokke’s recent exhibition at Migros Museum, Zurich, which reflected on the political uses of platitudes and truisms.

The New Yorker reviews Rebecca Solnit’s memoir, Recollections of My Existence.

The Public Art Fund will commission Sabine Hornig, Laura Owens, and Sarah Sze to create large-scale works for New York’s LaGuardia Airport, to be unveiled later this year.

Juxtapoz interviews Amsterdam-based painter Esiri Erheriene-Essi on her latest exhibition, maternity, hoarding, and time traveling.

Hyperallergic interviews Ariella Azoulay, professor of modern culture & media and comparative literature at Brown University, on the role of artists, collectors, critics, and arts professionals in the continuing dispossession of colonial subjects, most often people of color, around the world.

Shows We Want To See

We do want to see these shows and hope to get the opportunity! However, the ongoing situation with COVID-19 (coronavirus) means that many museums and galleries, including NMWA, are temporarily closing their doors. We wish everyone safety and good health. And in the meantime, we’ll check out inspirational art online.

Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist is on the schedule at New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art, which is reporting a temporary closure due to coronavirus. The show features forty-five works that introduce the public to Pelton’s luminous, abstract images of transcendence. In conjunction with the exhibition, Hyperallergic profiled the artist for their comic series and Artforum published a profile on the artist.

An abstract painting in blues and greens featuring soft curves and oblong shapes.

Agnes Pelton, Sea Change, 1931; Whitney Museum of American Art, Gift of Lois and Irvin Cohen; © Agnes Pelton Estate

Candida Alvarez’s latest exhibition, Estoy Bien, is on the schedule at the Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago. Featuring seven dual-sided, large abstract paintings, the exhibition’s title refers to the phrase I’m fine, which Alvarez heard frequently while searching for her mother and sister in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. In an interview with Art News, Alvarez said of the exhibition’s title painting, “I was able to dump everything, all the emotion, into this piece. It gave me back my studio.”

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

5 Fast Facts About #5WomenArtists Changing the World: Susan Goethel Campbell

Multidisciplinary artist Susan Goethel Campbell (b. 1956) creates installations, videos, prints, drawings, and artists’ books to highlight the indistinguishable characteristics of nature, culture, and the built environment. Campbell blurs the lines between these elements, documenting our changing planet and population and visualizing the intimate, ever-changing relationship between nature and human society.

Goethel Campbell_Ark 1

Susan Goethel Campbell, After the Deluge: The Post-Ark Report, 2002; Photoetching with aquatint and chine colle, 14 x 11 x 1 in.; NMWA, Museum Purchase; © Susan Goethel Campbell

Goethel Campbell_ Ark 2

Susan Goethel Campbell, After the Deluge: The Post-Ark Report, 2002; Photoetching with aquatint and chine colle, 14 x 11 x 1 in.; NMWA, Museum Purchase; © Susan Goethel Campbell

Share your favorite women artists working for climate justice on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook using the hashtag #5WomenArtists and tagging @WomenInTheArts.

1. Foundational Influences

Campbell has spent most of her adult life in Detroit, Michigan, and cites paintings in the Detroit Institute of Arts as having stylistic influence on her own works. Frederic Edwin Church’s Cotopaxi (1862) is one she would “look at and respond to over many years.” Campbell has also mentioned James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s Nocturne in Black and Gold, the Falling Rocket (1875), which depicts an atmospheric event, as a major influence on her own explorations of landscape.

2. The Art of Repurposing

In her “Grounds” series, Campbell explores the unexpected beauty between natural and manmade forms. Campbell grew sod inside consumer packaging until it took the shape of the containers. She then upended and freeze-dried the forms, which released them from the packaging and liberated the root mass. This series demonstrates an interconnectivity between organic matter and post-consumer debris.

3. Biblical Proportions

Part of NMWA’s extensive artists’ books collection, Campbell’s After the Deluge: The Post-Ark Report (2002) is loosely based on the biblical tale of Noah’s ark. Campbell’s retelling reveals the fates of various animal species in the 21st century. The poetic—and sometimes cheeky—narrative draws on text and clippings from the New York Times and Detroit Free Press and underscores the impact of human encroachment on animal habitats.

An open view of Susan Goethel Campbell's artists' book RIM, which is made from magnetic sheeting and opens to form a circle around a hollow core. The inside panels of the circle contain rural landscape painting with handwritten text over the images. The outside are covered in magnetic sheeting. The cover of the book, which simply says "RIM" is positioned in the center of the start of the circle.

Campbell’s artists’ book Rim (2000) addresses suburban sprawl, population density, and the loss of undeveloped land in Detroit

4. Reading the Sky

In 2009, Campbell set up a camera on the 22nd floor of Detroit’s Fisher Building to take one photo each minute for an entire year. She then compressed the files into a three-hour video. The resulting installation, Detroit Weather: 365 Days, documents the ways in which weather and industry affect one another. Campbell said, “You can…see stacks from the Ford Rouge Plant and Zug Island pumping out emissions and intersecting with weather patterns.”

5. Forces of Nature

Campbell is consistently inspired by the oscillating nature of Detroit’s landscape. “To watch the landscape change quite drastically by plant life has been largely influential throughout most of my time here. That cyclical process of something manmade being reclaimed by nature has been a really powerful influence on my work.”

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

Cultural Symbols in Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico

One of the most influential contemporary photographers of Latin America, Graciela Iturbide has produced majestic and powerful images of her native Mexico for the past 50 years. Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico is the artist’s most extensive U.S. exhibition in more than two decades, comprising 140 black-and-white prints that reveal the artist’s own journey to understand her homeland and the world.

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The photographs of Graciela Iturbide (b. 1942) feature social, religious, and natural symbols that define Mexican cultural and national identities in all of their complexity. By juxtaposing the country’s indigenous and European influences, Iturbide’s photographs capture the hybridity of the Mexican people. As Iturbide seeks to understand her country and its distinct communities, she captures symbols that link past to present and guide the artist—and viewer—in navigating Mexico’s layered history.

A black and white photograph of a woman seated at a cantina table with both of her elbows resting on the table, a cigarette in one hand, a clear shot glass close to it. She wears her hair up and dangling earrings and a tired expression. Behind her, a mural on the wall depicts a large skull in which the eye and nose cavities frame images of a hotel room, hospital beds, and a cemetery.

Graciela Iturbide, Mexico City, 1969–72; Gelatin silver print, 6 ¾ x 10 ¼ in.; Collection of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser; © Graciela Iturbide; Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

A Prostitute, a Cantina, a Mural

In Mexico City (1969), Iturbide evokes the harshness of life in the metropolis. This photograph portrays a tired-looking sex worker seated in what appears to be a cantina; a mural is painted on the wall behind her. The scene depicts a large skull in which the eye and nose cavities frame images of a hotel room, hospital beds, and a cemetery. These scenes allude to Mexico’s history of muralism and the country’s fascination with death. And, in fact, the prostitute is not a real woman, but instead a sculptural figure in the city’s wax museum. This early experiment highlights Iturbide’s interest in the photographic limits of fiction and reality.

Fiestas for Every Occasion

Mexico’s spirited, colorful, ritualistic celebrations fascinate Iturbide. Fiestas evoke Mexico’s cultural hybrid of indigenous and Spanish heritage. In Janus (1980), a young man wears two masks. Iturbide’s title and the man’s costume evoke Janus, the two-faced Roman god who sees both the past and the future. He represents duality, the passing of time, and transitions. The young man’s masks and party clothes embrace multiple identities at once. He is a reflection of Mexican cultural hybridity as his multiple identities imply indigenous heritage, Spanish imperialism, and contemporary globalization.

The (Absent) Virgin of Guadalupe

Iturbide frequently photographs religious symbols as another marker of the complexities of Mexican identity. The prevalence of Catholicism in Mexico is a direct result of European colonization. Yet, many converted societies incorporated elements of their traditional indigenous celebrations and practices into Christian festivities. Vírgen de Guadalupe (Virgin of Guadalupe) (2007), named for Mexico’s most important religious figure, is a symbolically rich photograph, highlighting both religious and natural symbols. The photo shows a painted backdrop of an empty mandorla prepared for a parade in Chalma, a famous site of both indigenous and Christian pilgrimage. The backdrop is designed to frame a statue or a woman dressed as the Virgin of Guadalupe. The Virgin’s absence emphasizes the botanical and yonic shape of the mandorla; its rays echo the spiny leaves of the native agave plants that bookend the backdrop. The mandorla’s painted sky and landscape mimic the real natural world, blurring the lines between what is real and what is fake.

*Unless otherwise noted, information is adapted from Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico: Photographs, by Kristen Gresh, with an essay by Guillermo Sheridan.

—Hannah Southern was the fall 2019 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts; Alicia Gregory is the assistant editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Art Fix Friday: March 6, 2020

Hyperallergic profiles Iraqi-born artist Sama Alshaibi, who addresses migration, war, and gender in her works. Alshaibi has designed an installation, The Cessation, for the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s State of the Art 2020 exhibition. It revives elements from the famous tale A Thousand and One Nights to comment on current socio-political realities.

Sama Alshaibi, The Cessation, 2019; Photo courtesy of Seale Photography Studios
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Originally created in a residency program in San Antonio, Texas, where the piece commented on women in public space, the installation takes advantage of its new museum location to respond to the representation of women in art institutions, another manifestation of gender inequality.

Front-page Femmes

Dublin-based architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton have won the 2020 Pritzker Prize; they are only the fourth and fifth women to win the prize in its 41-year history.

Artsy asked leading women artists, including Shirin Neshat, Anicka Yi, and Senga Nengudi, to share the emerging and underrepresented talents who inspire them.

Geometric artist Carmen Herrera will design a new mural in New York City’s East Harlem neighborhood; students from Publicolor, an arts and education program, and Manhattan East School will execute the design.

Artsy profiles photographer Liz Johnson Artur, whose photographs capture the vibrancy of black youth culture.

Liz Johnson Artur, Black Balloon Archive, 1992–ongoing; © Liz Johnson Artur; Courtesy of the artist

The New Yorker interviews actress Pam Grier about country living, blaxploitation, and the needs of Hollywood.

Artsy reports on the record number of female solo presentations at the 2020 Art Dealers Association of America fair.

The Washington Post shares Marissa Roth’s ocean photography series “The Crossing.”

June Edmonds has won the inaugural $10,000 Aware Prize, presented by Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions, at the Armory Show.

Juxtapoz interviews Ana Benaroya about pop culture, her interest in bodies and musculature, Celine Dion, and the balance between highbrow and lowbrow.

The New York Times profiles Nadia Boulanger, pioneering composer, conductor, and teacher, who will be first woman whose work is explored by the three-decade-old Bard Music Festival.

Slate interviews Cassie Chambers about Hill Women, her new memoir of family and Appalachian history.

Shows We Want to See

Jodie Herrera, Danielle, ca. 2018; Included in The Unseen group show

The Unseen, an all-female group show, opens today at Stone Sparrow in New York City. Participating artists including Rose Freymuth-Frazier, Ximena Rendon, Gigi Chen, and Jodi Herrera are from around the globe and work in paint, ceramic, textiles, fine metal, and wearable art jewelry. On view through March 31.

At Auto Italia in London, Hot Moment presents the work of Tessa Boffin, Ingrid Pollard, and Jill Posener—three photographers who explore the complexity of lesbian identity. The exhibition’s images emerge from the context of political struggles around reproductive rights, the onset of HIV/AIDS in the U.K., police stop-and-search laws, and uprisings in urban areas. Frieze notes the care, humor, and style with which these artists pushed back against poisonous cultural narratives. On view through March 14.

At New York City’s Bard Graduate Center Gallery, Eileen Gray features more than 200 architectural drawings and models, pieces of furniture, and textiles from the pioneer of modern design and architecture. Artnet calls the exhibition “a long-overdue look at one of Modernism’s great talents.” On view through July 12.

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