Now on view is the second edition of the biennial series Women to Watch, Body of Work: New Perspectives on Figurative Painting, sure to spark the interest of ardent art lovers and infrequent museum-goers alike. Taking a traditional form—the human figure—eight artists explore the rich diversity that the body offers. The 17 works display a variety of styles, approaches, and processes.
Woman to Watch, begun in 2008, seeks to expose audiences to emerging and underrepresented women artists. This year’s theme is figurative representation in contemporary work. An exhaustive selection process ensures that the works displayed demonstrate not only talent but different techniques, themes, styles, and perspectives. The eight committees participating in Body of Work each identified local contemporary art curators who then created shortlists of candidates—from their own regions—for the exhibition. NMWA Curator of Contemporary Art Dr. Kathryn A. Wat then selected the eight artists and their respective works to be included in the exhibit.
This year’s artists represent a broad range of backgrounds and experiences. Mequitta Ahuja (selected by Texas Commmittee) uses self-portraits as a forum to explore identity construction. Hannah Barrett (selected by Massachusetts Committee) paints black-and-white collage-inspired portraits to reveal the fluidity of gender. Julie Farstad’s (selected by Greater Kansas City Area Committee) eerie dolls function as an exploration of girlhood. Nikki Hemphill (selected by Arkansas Committee) reinterprets old photographs to evoke the complexity of memory. Jennifer Levonian (selected by Pennsylvania Committee) animates her paintings to create multiple narratives. Kate Longmaid (selected by Vermont Committee), a clinical psychologist, specializes in emotionally intimate portraits to better understand the process of seeing and being seen. Ann-Marie Manker (selected by Georgia Commiittee) contrasts the ultra feminine girly-girl with the tough chick in her Japanese anime-inspired paintings. Rose Wylie’s (selected by UK Committee) associative style exposes the comic and monumental found in everyday experience.
Be sure to visit the exhibition and come back to “Broad Strokes” later this summer to read exclusive interviews with the featured artists!
-Rebecca Park is publications intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.