On Thursday, October 29, NMWA members gained advance access to the new exhibition Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today. In the post-war period, women artists were often excluded from more male-dominated fine arts fields like painting and sculpture. Instead, many worked in craft and design, combining traditional methods with innovative approaches and materials, and achieved great success. These midcentury trailblazers cleared the path for contemporary artists and designers—whose work is also shown in Pathmakers.
To kick off the day, members gathered on the museum’s mezzanine level for refreshments and mingling before exploring the exhibition. They attended special tours of Pathmakers led by guest curator Jennifer Scanlan, who organized the show at the Museum of Art and Design in New York. On the tours, Scanlan discussed the varied ways in which artists elevated mediums like weaving, ceramics, and metalwork to the realm of fine art.
Visitors marveled at the mesmerizing, complex wire sculpture of Ruth Asawa, admired the fluid forms and simplicity of Eva Ziesel’s ceramics, and glimpsed into a re-creation of the UN Delegates’ Lounge interior designed by Hella Jongerius.
Members also had the opportunity to attend tours of the exhibition Esther Bubley Up Front. Featuring works by photojournalist Esther Bubley, the exhibition reveals how Bubley’s photographs capture revealing and poignant portraits of American life in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s.
In honor of the Pathmakers sneak peek, the Museum Shop stocked a pop-up shop full of authentic 1950s and ’60s clothes and accessories supplied by Vintage Vagabond. Members also enjoyed discounts off of purchases from the Mezzanine Café and the Museum Shop.
Take part in the next round of Member Preview Day festivities and become a member today! Visit the museum to explore Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today, open through February 28, 2016.
—Marina MacLatchie is the education and digital engagement intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.