#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

#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: Yael Bartana’s “What if Women Ruled the World”

Impress your friends with five fast facts about What if Women Ruled the World (2016) by Yael Bartana (b. 1970, Kfar Yehezkel, Israel), on display in the third-floor galleries.

1. New Neon

NMWA acquired the neon sculpture What if Women Ruled the World (2016) by Israeli artist Yael Bartana in 2017, in celebration of the museum’s 30th anniversary.

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

2. Multimedia Maven

Bartana is known for her films, installations, and photography. Her complex, multimedia pieces often address and question the ceremonies and rituals that affirm national identity. Her work demands reflection on the ways in which countries develop and sustain dominant narratives.

3. Turning the Tables

Inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, in which a select group of powerful white men assemble to discuss nuclear war and unilaterally determine the fate of the human race, Bartana’s What if Women Ruled the World both proposes and proclaims a peaceful alternative.

4. Women Rule

Approximately 10% of United Nation member countries are led by women. To learn more about trailblazers and current women leaders, check out this Al Jazeera interactive and Pew Research Center 2017 study findings.

5. “Year of the Woman”

The United States House and Senate midterm elections, on November 6, 2018, could bring about a tidal wave of change: 260 women are on the ballot. Inform yourself and vote! Check out this Vice video and the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics “2018 Summary of Women Candidates” report.

—Adrienne L. Gayoso is the senior educator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.


Art Fix Friday: November 2, 2018

NMWA Assistant Curator Orin Zahra contributed to an Art and Object feature on Impressionist Marie Bracquemond.

Researcher Sarah Bochicchio points out that while female Impressionists Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot have had major solo shows in 2018, Bracquemond continues to remain relatively unknown. The article sheds needed light on this under-recognized member of the “three great ladies of Impressionism.”

Front-Page Femmes

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged her country to “improve the standing of women in the arts [by ensuring] balanced award-giving juries and grant bodies.”

Researchers at Indiana University Bloomington are creating a comprehensive online database of female artists active in the U.S. and Europe from the 15th to 19th centuries.

Though only three are women, the four-person curatorial team for the 2020 Berlin Biennale has stated, “we identify as female because we feel the rule of everything by overconfident-macho voices must end.”

Hilma af Klint, Group X, No. 1, Altarpiece (Grupp X, nr 1, Altarbild), 1915; from Altarpieces (Altarbilder); Oil and metal leaf on canvas, 237.5 x 179.5 cm; The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm; Photo by Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Hilma af Klint, Group X, No. 1, Altarpiece, 1915; On view at the Guggenheim Museum

Priscilla Frank of The Huffington Post  discusses the sometimes troubling associations drawn between female creativity and the occult. In her investigation, she examines Amazon’s recent remake of the 1977 horror film Suspiria and Hilma af Klint’s current Guggenheim retrospective Paintings for the Future.

German video artist Hito Steyerl wins the 2019 Käthe Kollwitz Prize.

Mickalene Thomas discusses the way photography became the “center of her practice” at a luncheon honoring the accomplishments of women in film and photography.

Nan Goldin and Catherine Opie are among several artists selling signed prints in a five-day sale organized by Magnum Photos. Proceeds from Goldin’s sales will go to her activist group P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now).

BAMcinématek in Brooklyn is presenting a film series highlighting the “overlooked work of women in the domestic space.”

Shows We Want to See

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, California

Betye Saar, Extreme Times Call for Extreme Heroines, 2017; On view at the New-York Historical Society

Betye Saar: Keepin’ It Clean goes on view at the New-York Historical Society today. The 92-year-old black feminist icon hopes the exhibition will convince America to “clean up its act” regarding politics and actions.

The Guardian profiles a new exhibition on view at England’s Nottingham Contemporary. Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance features 40 women and non-binary artists whose work examines the ways in which women combat oppression. In an effort to present a fresh perspective on the topic, the curators of the show have “ditched typical exhibiting systems and hierarchies to allow feminist and intersectional queer thought to direct everything from the ground up.”

Patricia Cronin, Aphrodite, and the Lure of Antiquity reimagines classical mythology through a distinctly feminist lens. Part of the Tampa Museum of Art’s Conversations with the Collection series, the show is based around artist Patricia Cronin’s encounters with museum’s holdings of ancient Aphrodite imagery. The result is an exhibition that “erases the bias of the original myth and replaces it with an icon absolutely appropriate for contemporary women.”

—Becca Gross is the fall 2018 publications and marketing/communications intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Writing and Righting History: 2018 Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

For the fifth year, Art+Feminism led the global initiative to improve the Wikipedia representation of women artists and to train women editors. NMWA’s Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center participates by hosting a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at the museum every year. In honor of Women’s History Month, 28 volunteer editors gathered at the museum on March 17. After four hours (and three boxes of coffee), edit-a-thon participants created eight new Wikipedia articles and improved 72 existing entries.

2018 Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at NMWA; Photo: Traci Christensen, NMWA

Why does this effort matter?

Wikipedia is the largest and most popular general reference on the internet. A 2010 Wikimedia survey found that fewer than 13% of the platform’s contributors are women. The lack of female participation has contributed to the absence of notable women on the platform.

What was lacking?

This year, NMWA focused on entries concerning women art museum directors and gallerists—a theme closely related to the month’s Fresh Talk, a public program discussing gender parity in museums. Many leaders, scholars, and tastemakers of the modern art world, including Fresh Talk speakers Frances Morris, director of the Tate Modern, and Laurence des Cars, director of the Musée d’Orsay, work to raise the visibility of women artists in their institutions.

Wikipedia has a category page titled Museum Directors, where men—unsurprisingly—drastically outnumber women. The page links to a substantially longer list of women on the page for Female Art Museum Directors. Most of the listed directors did not have links for their names, indicating that they did not have their own Wikipedia pages—even though many did. The list also sorely lacked citations to demonstrate notability, and the article had been flagged as a result. Many of these women leaders of arts institutions had sparse pages on Wikipedia or no article at all.

What did volunteers do at NMWA?

Volunteers created pages, added images, and corrected or expanded on existing content. Former Smithsonian African Art Museum Director Johnetta Cole’s article now reflects her retirement last year. Editors added details to the page of influential gallerist Marian Goodman and expanded content on Thelma Golden’s success as director of the Studio Museum in Harlem. Whitechapel Art Gallery Director Iwona Blazwick’s info box now contains a permissible photograph.

2018 Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at NMWA; Photo: Traci Christensen, NMWA

Over laptops at shared tables, attendees discussed their contributions, offered each other help, and worked through their new skills together. Experienced Wikipedians were generous with their knowledge, and one attendee gave an impromptu lesson on making pages accessible to the visually impaired. A team from the BBC even stopped by to film volunteers.

Museum staff members enjoy the immediate gratification of seeing editors at work, contributions go live, and new volunteers energized to continue this work on their own. Hopefully, edit-a-thons like this will spur an ongoing effort to legitimize women’s work with reliable sources.

—Sarah Osborne Bender is the director of the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center (LRC) and Emily Sawyer is the spring 2018 LRC intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Can You Name #5WomenArtists?

Can you name five women artists? Did your response include any women artists of color? Women artists, especially women of color, remain dramatically underrepresented and undervalued in museums, galleries, and auction houses. This March, for Women’s History Month, the National Museum of Women in the Arts is relaunching our award-winning social media campaign asking, “Can you name five women artists?”

NMWA began the #5WomenArtists campaign in March 2016. It elicited shock, provided a challenge, and sparked conversation about gender parity in the arts. During March 2017, more than 520 national and international cultural institutions and nearly 11,000 individuals joined the campaign to promote women artists in all 50 states and on seven continents.

NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling says, “There is no better time than now to raise awareness that the art world also disadvantages women’s opportunities and advancement, with women artists of color experiencing a double disadvantage in an already challenging field.”

Join NMWA and other institutions, including the National Gallery of Art, Tate, and Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture to share stories of women artists using the hashtag #5WomenArtists.

Here’s how you can get started:

Learn more about women artists through NMWA’s artist profiles

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

For more than eight decades, Maria Martinez (1887–1980, San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico) continued and extended the centuries-old pottery traditions of San Ildefonso Pueblo.

Georgia Mills Jessup (1926–2016, Washington, D.C.) demonstrated diverse talent as a painter, sculptor, ceramicist, muralist, and collage artist.

Contemporary painter Li Shurui (b. 1981, Chongqing, China) uses an airbrush to add vibrant color to canvas to approximate the appearance of LED lighting popular in nightclubs and city settings.

Tanya Habjouqa (b. 1975, Amman, Jordan) is one of the founding members of the Rawiya photography collective and documents everyday life and social issues in the Middle East.

Graciela Iturbide’s (b. 1942, Mexico City, Mexico) photographs reveal the daily lives, customs, and rituals of Mexico’s underrepresented native cultures.

Want to help advocate for women artists? 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 on NMWA’s Women’s History Month webpage.

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

Art Fix Friday: June 16, 2017

This year’s edition of Art Basel, Switzerland, opened on Thursday, June 15.

Art Basel features work by the Guerrilla Girls (left) and Claudia Comte (right)

Art Basel features work by the Guerrilla Girls (left) and Claudia Comte (right)

The art fair showcases posters by the Guerrilla Girls, a video installation by Cécile B. Evans with a Brutalist viewing booth, film programming by Maxa Zoller, and a “fun fair” installation by Claudia Comte, who says, “we are all taking ourselves too seriously.”

Front-Page Femmes

The National Museum of Women in the Arts made the news this week with a $9 million bequest from benefactor Madeleine Rast.

The film Wonder Woman smashed records, becoming the biggest-ever domestic opening for a woman director ever.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith was named the poet laureate of the United States by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.

Indian artist Astha Butail has been selected as the next BMW Art Journey winner with her project In the Absence of Writing.

Ramsay art prize winner Sarah Contos “boldly claims space on the gallery wall for female Australian artists.”

After nearly 300 years, Royal Collection Trust’s conservators discovered a lucky token hidden by Venetian artist Rosalba Carriera in the frame of one of her pastel works.

Cornelia Parker discusses her role as the first woman and conceptual artist to be chosen for the role of U.K.’s official election artist.

Coco Picard’s The Chronicles of Fortune is a story about learning how to grapple with the role of death in life.

Art collector and patron Agnes Gund sells Roy Lichtenstein’s Masterpiece for $150 million to create a fund “that supports criminal justice reform and seeks to reduce mass incarceration in the United States.”

AIGA presents 5 powerful projects designed by and for women to address the cultural stigma behind abortion.

Jenny Holzer’s new works “put unexpected things into unlikely places” to address tensions and inequality in contemporary society.

Merrill Wagner uses tape and Plexiglas to craft “measured, stark, ravishing” work.

Two-time Turner Prize nominee and Royal Academy member Alison Wilding discusses her most recent exhibition.

An Atlantic review of Anne Helen Petersen’s new book Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman explores contemporary culture, which “claims to celebrate women but often, politically and culturally, puts them in a bind.”

Susan Silton stages an all-woman production of Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time.”

Yoko Ono—after 46 years—is credited as co-writer of the song “Imagine.”

Shows We Want to See

Writer Zadie Smith profiles British-Ghanaian artist Yiadom-Boakye in honor of her recent exhibition at New York’s New Museum, Under-Song for a Cipher.

Lenka Clayton is “highly attuned to the rhythms of everyday life” in the exhibition Object Temporarily Removed at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia.

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s Jaonua: The Nothingness, a five-channel video installation, is on view through July 28 at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York City.

Tate Modern prepares to exhibit work by the trailblazing Turkish artist Fahrelnissa Zeid.

A new survey of paintings by Lisa Yuskavage is on view at David Zwirner gallery, London.

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial assistant and Elizabeth Lynch is the editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Superwomen Assemble: Meet the Women Saving Comics

“Images play a crucial role in defining and controlling the political and social power to which individuals and marginalized groups have access,” stated filmmaker Pratibha Parmar. “The deeply ideological nature of imagery determines not only how other people think about us but how we think about ourselves.”

Ashley A Woods’s artwork for NIOBE: She is Life

Ashley A. Woods’s artwork for NIOBE: She is Life

FRESH TALK: Who are the new superwomen of the universe? on June 14 will show how comics, in particular, can highlight what a society values through the heroes they revere. The imagery surrounding heroes often reveals ingrained notions and perceptions of people. In the comics landscape, hulking, white male characters are often the ideals—if not the standards—for heroism. Often the imagery surrounding women, people of color, and other marginalized groups skews towards abusive imaginings or stereotypes. Recently, however, more people within the comics community are making strides to subvert that trend.

Meet the women changing the universe of comics at the final Fresh Talk program of the Women, Arts, and Social Change 2016–17 season. Guest speakers include ComicMix.com columnist Emily S. Whitten as the moderator and Carolyn Cocca, author of Superwomen: Gender, Power, and Representation. Young Adult author Gabby Rivera will discuss her role writing for the queer Latina superheroine of the Marvel universe, America Chavez. Fresh Talk also features Ariell Johnson, the first black woman to open a comic book shop on the East Coast. “There are a lot of black girl geeks in the world but we are not at the forefront,” noted Johnson. “This store is also kind of a statement—we’re here, we’ve been here and we’re going to keep being here.”

Ashley A Woods’s artwork for NIOBE: She is Life

Ashley A. Woods’s artwork for NIOBE: She is Life

Illustrator Ashley A. Woods will share her experiences drawing for the series NIOBE: She is Life, the first internationally distributed comic with a black woman author, artist, and central character. Woods imbues renderings of Niobe, the title character of the series, with an earthly quality that enhances her supernatural features, while not obscuring her humanity. The series, charting the adventures of the fantastical half-elf, half human warrior, explores issues ranging from racism to religion. Woods’s artwork for the series provides long overdue proof that black women in fantasy comics are not out of place. If anything, they are powerful voices that need to be heard.

Save your spot for Fresh Talk on June 14 to meet the new wave of superheroines entering the comic universe, leading the fight for justice and dispelling traditional stereotypes. Follow the conversation through #FreshTalk4Change.

—Kimberly Colbert is a summer 2017 intern in the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

#5WomenArtists Goes Global

In honor of Women’s History Month, the museum launched the second year of its award-winning #5WomenArtists social media campaign, which asks, “Can you name five women artists?” The museum invited cultural organizations and individuals to share stories about women artists on social media throughout the month. The campaign inspired a discussion about gender imbalance in the art world in the U.S. and internationally—to great success! Check out a few highlights of the campaign:

One staff member dressed as Frida Kahlo brought the challenge to Washington, D.C. streets.

Overall, the month was filled with consciousness-raising digital initiatives. Forty-four participants edited 83 Wikipedia articles about women artists in the fifth annual Wikipedia edit-a-thon hosted at the museum. Part of the Art+Feminism initiative, edit-a-thon participants used the museum’s resources to improve entries about women artists. NMWA offered a daily scavenger hunt in the museum and hosted a before-hours InstaMeet for local photographers to explore and snap photos of the museum’s newly reinstalled collection galleries. NMWA staff shared their favorite works by women for International Women’s Day.

The museum also “took over” other institutions’ social media accounts to share the stories of women artists with a broader digital community, including sharing nature-themed works from @BalboaPark’s Instagram, collection highlights from the Brightest Young Things accounts, and the museum’s mission and history from the @52museums handle. NMWA’s collection works also anchored the all-women #ArtMadness “bracket,” the Albright-Knox Gallery’s NCAA March Madness-themed competition.

#5womenartists posts on Instagram

#5womenartists posts on Instagram

Many organizations included #5WomenArtists in their own Women’s History Month programming. The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art invited five women artists to speak about their experiences and the Royal British Columbia Museum hosted a museum happy hour event highlighting contemporary First Nations artists. Manor View Elementary School even created a bulletin board dedicated to the campaign. Individual participants reflected on the campaign, including one tweet stating, “#5WomenArtists has been one of the more influential hashtags for me. I knew at least five when I first saw it, but can name many more now!” Another Twitter user said, “The #5WomenArtists challenge is one of my favorite times of the #MuseSocial year! Thanks, @WomenInTheArts.” The challenge also inspired other hashtags, including #5WomenScientists and #5ArtistasMujeres.

Explore campaign highlights on the museum’s Women’s History Month web page. Continue to advocate on behalf of women artists and celebrate their accomplishments all year. Every month is Women’s History Month at the museum!

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

Down to a Science: #5WomenArtists Spark #5WomenScientists

For Women’s History Month, NMWA posed the question, “Can you name five women artists?” While social media users shared stories of women artists with #5WomenArtists, other science museums and cultural institutions expanded the challenge by posting content about #5WomenScientists.

Maria Merian, Plate 9 (from "Dissertation in Insect Generations and Metamorphosis in Surinam", second edition), 1719; Hand-colored engraving on paper, 20 1/4 x 14 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Maria Merian, Plate 9 (from “Dissertation in Insect Generations and Metamorphosis in Surinam,” second edition), 1719; Hand-colored engraving on paper, 20 1/4 x 14 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Art and science are two fields which seamlessly overlap. Both encourage close observation, experimentation, and innovation. Women are often overlooked and underrepresented in both fields. NMWA features a collection of works by women artist-scientists.

Because of their purported keen powers of observation, women artists historically were encouraged to render the natural world. After studying dried specimens of plants and animals that were popular with European collectors, botanical illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717) decided to study them in their natural habitats. At the age of 52, Merian and her younger daughter embarked on a dangerous trip, without a male chaperone, to the Dutch colony of Surinam in South America. She spent two years studying indigenous flora and fauna. Her book, the lavishly illustrated Insects of Surinam, was published in 1705 and established Merian’s international reputation.

As tools for observation became more advanced, photography emerged as a new medium to explore, record, and interpret nature. Molecular biologist-turned-photographer Amy Lamb (b. 1944) continues the tradition of women artist-scientists by producing large-scale “portraits” of plants. For Lamb, observation is a vital part of her creative process. She grows most of the plants that she photographs, which allows her to become intimately familiar with their life cycles. Studying plant maturation repeatedly helps her anticipate when to have the camera ready.

Amy Lamb, “Magnolia,” 1998, Iris print, 13 1/4 in x 20 1/8 in; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, Maryland, in honor of the artist, ©1998 Amy Lamb, all rights reserved

Amy Lamb, Magnolia, 1998, Iris print, 13 1/4 in x 20 1/8 in; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, Maryland, in honor of the artist, ©1998 Amy Lamb, all rights reserved

The influence of science is a common thread in NMWA’s collection. Floral still-life paintings by Rachel Ruysch (1664–1750), cliché-verre prints by Maggie Foskett (1919–2014), and etchings by Monika E. de Vries Gohlke (b. 1940) engage with science and nature. Angela Strassheim (b. 1969), trained in forensic photography, lends a scientific eye to her oeuvre, while Michal Rovner (b. 1957) simulates the feeling of a laboratory through a video work involving petri dishes.

Continue exploring the stories of women artist-scientists. Browse a selection of #5WomenScientists posts from institutions ranging from the Field Museum, to the Biodiversity Heritage Library, the Franklin Institute, and the Science Museum, London.

—Madeline Barnes is the winter/spring 2017 digital engagement intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.