Interview with Fresh Talk Speaker Maia Nuku

A headshot of Dr. Maia Nuku

Dr. Maia Nuku will speak at Fresh Talk: Adorning Wakanda—Accessory to Action on June 30

Dr. Maia Nuku is the Evelyn A. J. Hall and John A. Friede Associate Curator for Oceanic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Nuku was born in London and is of English and Maori (Ngai Tai) descent. Her doctoral research focused on early missionary collections of Polynesian gods and their extraordinary materiality, which sparked an interest in drawing out the often eclipsed cosmological aspects of Oceanic art.

On June 30, NMWA welcomes Nuku as she takes part in FRESH TALK: Adorning Wakanda—Accessory to Action, a conversation about the aesthetics of gender equity. We asked her three short questions to get us thinking:

What is one experience, project, or person that made you recognize that you were doing important work? Being of Maori descent has impacted my curatorial practice in the sense that, over time, I’ve moved away from the idea of the gallery as simply a place where we present art from a particular region. Instead, I’ve shifted towards an understanding of it as a place of encounter: a place to dialogue and confront complex colonial histories. I prefer to approach the galleries as a place to host in the manner that Pacific people are accustomed to do. In this way it becomes a very active and dynamic space. When I host Maori and Pacific islanders in the galleries and see that they feel comfortable in the space and that they’re moved to engage with their ancestors naturally just as they would at home, I feel that we are on our way to getting something right. It’s encouraging to feel the warmth of their response and the excitement they feel at sharing their culture with visitors from around the world.

A portrait from the 1870s of a Maori woman who wears a black Victorian style blouse with lace ruffles, two white-tipped feathers in her hair sticking straight up, and black tattoo chin markings

Portrait of Maori woman; Samuel Carnell studio, Napier, New Zealand, 1870s; National Library of New Zealand

Can you describe a moment in which you realized the power of adornment? In my early 20s, I visited an exhibition of early portraits of Maori women called Moko: 19th Century Portrait Photographs of Maori. It featured large black-and-white studio portraits taken in the 1870s by photographer Samuel Carnell in Napier, New Zealand. Many of the women photographed were from the Ngati Kahungunu iwi (tribe) and, seeing the pakeha (European settlers) in town visiting the studio to have their portraits taken for cartes de visite and to send home to family, decided they wanted similar portraits. Wearing black taffeta and moiré-silk Victorian style bustle dresses, their features were off-set by the dark ink of their tattooed chin markings (moko kauae), dramatic white-tipped huia feathers in their hair, and greenstone hei tiki pendants worn around their necks. Ribbons and brooches typical of the Victorian era were pinned to their dresses. I was fascinated by the clash of Maori and European cultures, which seemed to be an encounter between history and art, fixed in a single photographic moment which hinted at otherwise-untold stories. These photographs affected me personally. They were a mirror of the two cultures from which my own bloodlines are constructed. Seeing them was a turning point: soon after, I decided to leave the work I was doing, began to study history, art, and anthropology, and started my journey into museums.

What is one way that your work engages with gender equity and/or gender roles? Gender and gender roles have been constructed and re-evaluated in the Pacific over time as necessary—they’re not always strictly defined; Pacific cultures have also always had a space for the non-binary which was not necessarily defined, labeled, or prescribed. So the continued work—by scholars, curators, Pacific artists, and cultural practitioners—to recover the coordinates of indigenous cultures in all their glorious nuance, detail, and complexity helps us to tackle and confront issues of race, gender, and equity. As we immerse ourselves in the detail of indigenous knowledge, we see and feel other ways of being in the world, and we glimpse more equitable ways of interacting which we can build upon.

In FRESH TALK: Adorning Wakanda—Accessory to Action, Dr. Maia Nuku joins in conversation with Douriean Fletcher, Marvel Comics’ jewelry designer for Black Panther (2018), and Dr. Ayana Omilade Flewellen, Co-Director at Estate Little Princess Archaeology Project.

How have we communicated gender and power through adornment in the past, and how does such a rich history translate to adornment practices today?

Watch online starting at 4:30 p.m. (EST) on June 30: nmwa.org/freshtalk4change.

—Grace DeWitt is the spring 2019 public programs intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Meet Fresh Talk Speaker Ayana Flewellen

In her forthcoming book, A Black Feminist Archaeology of Adornment (working title), Dr. Ayana Omilade Flewellen investigates how clothing, hair alterations, jewelry, body piercings, scarification, and other methods of self-making shaped the identities of African American farmers in post-emancipation Texas. Flewellen uses the word “sartorial” to define these forms of bodily modification and adornment, practices which are deeply influenced by systems of oppression and power.

A headshot of Dr. Ayana Flewellen, who stands in a white blouse with a silver necklace; the blurry background is a landscape of lush green trees and mountains in the far background.

Dr. Ayana Flewellen will speak at Fresh Talk: Adorning Wakanda—Accessory to Action on June 30

For Flewellen, archaeology is responsible for turning over every stone—both in physical practice and in critical discourse. By applying understandings of gender, class, and race to preconceived history, Flewellen has become a leading figure for intersectional anthropology and the growing field of black feminist archaeology.

We are thrilled to host Flewellen, Co-Director at Estate Little Princess Archaeology Project and President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley, at NMWA on June 30 as she takes part in Fresh Talk: Adorning Wakanda—Accessory to Action, a conversation about the aesthetics of gender equity. We asked her three short questions to get us thinking:

  • What is one experience, project, or person that made you recognize that you were doing important work? My maternal grandmothers are at the center of my work. My first book project is an ode to their lives. Through material culture and documentary evidence, I explore how women, like my great-grandmother Dovie Lee Tyler, lived and labored in Texas and how they adorned their lives in the face of racism, sexual exploitation, and economic disenfranchisement.
  • Can you describe a moment in which you realized the power of adornment?As a child, witnessing the women in my life allowed me to see the power of adornment at a very young age. I grew up in a household with my mother, who loved bright colors. She also handcrafted and sold jewelry, in addition to working for a number of nonprofits before she went back to school. It was from her crafted pieces—seeing the care and skill that went into their production—that I understood their intrinsic value and the power they held for the wearer.
  • What is one way that your work engages with gender equity and/or gender roles? My research looks at the formation of identities from slavery through freedom within the African Diaspora in the Atlantic World. Doing this work requires an intersectional lens that allows for the creation of historical narratives that revel in the complexities of the lives of people of African descent.

For Fresh Talk: Adorning Wakanda—Accessory to Action, Dr. Flewellen joins in conversation with Douriean Fletcher, Marvel Comics’ first licensed jewelry designer and official adornment artist for Black Panther (2018), and Dr. Maia Nuku, Evelyn A. J. Hall and John A. Friede Associate Curator for Oceanic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

How have we communicated gender and power through adornment in the past, and how does such a rich history translate to adornment practices today?

Watch online starting at 4:30 p.m. (EST) on June 30: nmwa.org/freshtalk4change.

—Grace DeWitt is the spring 2019 public programs intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Meet Fresh Talk Speaker Hilary Sample

In 2003, Hilary Sample co-founded MOS Architects, an architectural firm credited with award-winning design solutions and a new business philosophy in architecture—not to mention an offbeat and self-aware sense of style. Buildings aside, the firm has created furniture that mimics architectural maquettes, a collapsible puppet theatre, a low-resolution quilt, Early-Modernist Avant-Garde soap reproductions, and software programs that are both whimsical and stunning.

Tonight NMWA welcomes Sample, principal architect at MOS and associate professor at Columbia GSAPP, for Fresh Talk: Writing the Balance—a talk about rewriting predominant narratives. We asked her three questions to give us a taste of what we can look forward to:

  • What does gender equality look like in your field? Shifting beyond the discussion of equality and moving towards a discussion of quality over quantity of opportunities.
  • What is one thinga source of inspiration, character trait, skill, or toolthat has helped you overcome obstacles in your field? Focus on the future.
  • Can you describe a moment that made you recognize that you were doing important work? Every day offers a new chance to engage in creative work. I am grateful for the opportunities and relationships that shape a creative life, from teaching to writing, to practice, to motherhood.

In Fresh Talk: Writing the Balance, Sample joins Amy Padnani, creator of the “Overlooked” obituary series at the New York Times, and Jodie Patterson, LGBTQI activist and author of The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation. By exploring how these three women have challenged normative perspectives in their fields, Writing the Balance will investigate how gender equity can be shared through language, and what progress means for underrepresented genders across disciplines.

—Grace DeWitt is the spring 2019 public programs intern 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.

Setting the Stage with Sibyl Edwards: Women, Arts, and Tech

Courtesy Sybil Edwards

Sibyl Edwards

The Women, Arts, and Social Change community is gearing up for the next FRESH TALK event at NMWA, confronting questions about women’s innovations in science and technology fields. Sibyl Edwards, a designer, strategist, and advocate for women in technology, has a unique perspective on these issues as the executive director of DC Innovates and president of DC Web Women.

Edwards is a leading voice for advancing women in web-based technology, and she also has a BFA from the Corcoran. Edwards said, “In my case it was art that led to tech.” As an art student she found inspiration in science and medical technology as a means of visualizing disease. “But,” she said, “many times tech leads to art. When a coder is introduced to wearables, like Fitbit, they can no longer only focus on tech. The design is just as important.”

Edwards finds inspiration in technologies like the Oculus Rift virtual reality system, “a completely immersive technological experience, with endless possibilities for artists to build entire environments within a device. Think of it as the new wave of installation art.”

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Occulus Rift technology; BagoGames, Creative Commons

Edwards believes in integrating the arts into education, turning STEM—an interdisciplinary movement focusing on the subjects of science, technology, engineering, and math—into STEAM with the addition of art. With the arts, Edwards said, “Space opens up for new types of technology, where aesthetics and design are necessary components for innovation.”

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Natalie Jeremijenko, Photo courtesy Manuello Paganelli

NMWA’s March 2 FRESH TALK event poses the question, Can an artist use science and technology to heal the environment? Speaker Natalie Jeremijenko blurs the boundaries between art, science and technology. She seeks solutions for healing people through healing the environment, and like Edwards, her background combines art and technology. The event explores how these leaders might effect social change and empower others, particularly women and girls, to innovate in science and technology.

Edwards said that the Case Foundation, co-founded by speaker Jean Case, “is an organization empowering millennials to find ways in which technology can be used for social justice and advocacy.”

Yet, opportunity continues to be a key issue when it comes to inspiring young women to enter the tech field. Edwards noted that the media doesn’t reflect strong women in technology, showing a more limited stereotype. “For women who don’t fit that strict mold it can seem impossible to make a career in tech.” Mentors can also make an impact: “Most chief technology officers, especially in startups, are men. So for women just starting out in the field, there are few women in power positions to look up to. We need more role models!”

Attend the upcoming FRESH TALK, on March 2 in person or tune in remotely for the live-stream video feed. You are also invited to add your thoughts about women and tech and answers to the question, “Can an artist use science and technology to heal the environment?” on Twitter by using the hashtag #FreshTalk4Change.

—Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell is the public programs coordinator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Designing Conversations for Change

Braving post-blizzard traffic conditions in D.C., nearly 100 guests attended the museum’s third FRESH TALK—part of the new public programs initiative Women, Arts, and Social Change. On Wednesday, January 27, FRESH TALK: Can design be genderless? featured Netherlands-based designer Gabriel Ann Maher, whose work is on view in Pathmakers, and International New York Times design critic Alice Rawsthorn.

Design historian and critic Rawsthorn kicked off the evening with an overview of design, highlighting the ways design informs everyday life and how it is often gender-biased. She discussed the increasingly eclectic and fluid concept of gender identity and how it impacts design culture through digital technology.

Gabriel Maher speaks at NMWA; Photo: Kevin Allen

Gabriel Maher speaks at NMWA; Photo: Kevin Allen

Maher, a designer who identifies as gender fluid, investigates gender through design media. Maher dissected issues of the Dutch magazine FRAME to reveal perpetuated stereotypes of “male” and “female”—from article titles to depictions of men and women designers.

Maher explained how designers direct people’s self-presentation—through clothing that accentuates body shape, or through the act of sitting, in which people claim or relinquish space.

In one of the night’s most repeated and tweeted statements, Maher declared, “Design is inherently genderless but it is designers who create gendered objects.”

The presentations wrapped with a moderated conversation led by NMWA Director of Public Programs Lorie Mertes. Rawsthorn and Maher explored ways that design could become more inclusive—from genderless bathroom signage to TSA body scanners (which are based on an algorithm for male or female forms). The speakers reflected on cultures that embrace and revere multiple concepts of gender. Both pondered how the internet can be a tool for change.

Fresh Talk speakers with guests during Catalyst cocktail hour; Photos: Kevin Allen

FRESH TALK speakers with guests during Catalyst cocktail hour; Photos: Kevin Allen

At Catalyst, a cocktail hour with a topic and a twist, guests became impassioned participants in a conversation sparked by the presentations. They became friends with fellow attendees, discussed perspectives, and focused on actionable steps for change. Here are a few highlights:

1. Seeing the world with new eyes.

Guests felt more aware of their built environments. They began to consider how the world is constructed and how design can create obstacles for gender-fluid people.

2. Empathy is the name of the game.

Attendees introduced themselves and shared details of their identities—which many had never considered aloud. Guests gained a greater understanding of the LGBTQ community, discussed how gender stereotypes are ingrained, and considered the impact of gender labels.

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Left and right: Participants discuss gender and ideas for change; Photos: Kevin Allen

3. Your ideas for social change matter.

Guests were surprised to have such meaningful conversations about the world from inside a museum. Instead of a traditional Q&A, guests provided their own strategies for change. Via comment cards, they completed the phrase “My idea of social change is…”

  • “discuss, discuss, discuss.”
  • “acceptance. Great event!”
  • “to be inclusive.”
  • “looking for new spaces and forums for conversation and questioning.”

The conversation continues online with #FreshTalk4Change. Visit the museum’s website to watch event videos. The recordings of FRESH TALK: Can design be genderless? will be available soon.

Don’t miss the next program, FRESH TALK: Natalie Jeremijenko, Wednesday, March 2. Artist and engineer Natalie Jeremijenko teams up with Jean Case and Megan Smith to discuss “Can an artist use science and technology to heal the environment?”

—Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell is the public programs coordinator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Blurring Boundaries: Contemporary Design

“Design has had one unwavering role as an agent of change” incorporating new developments—in science, technology, or culture—for the better, says Alice Rawsthorn, design critic for the international edition of the New York Times.

Gabriel Maher, Courtesy of Alwin Poiana

Gabriel Maher, Courtesy of Alwin Poiana

What kind of impact will the gender-queer design discussion continue to have? Can genderless design help move contemporary society and culture toward a more positive, welcoming, and safe environment?

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Genderless bathroom sign

Today, genderless, gender-queer, and gender-fluid identities have an increasing presence in mainstream consciousness. The New York Times stated, “2015 was the year unisex became a trend in fashion”—citing Louis Vuitton’s latest women’s wear ad campaign featuring Jaden Smith as a key example. The article also declares, “gender definitions are as fluid as they have ever been,” but there are also increased “efforts to codify the new reality, be it on bathroom doors or in the language of institutions.”

On January 27, as part of the museum’s Women, Arts, and Social Change initiative, artist Gabriel Ann Maher and Alice Rawsthorn continue the discussion surrounding the question “Can design be genderless?”

Netherlands-based designer Gabriel Ann Maher is one of the contemporary artists represented in the special exhibition Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today, on view at the museum through February 28. Maher will discuss fluid gender identity as an artistic subject. Maher’s video work DE___SIGN examines the ways in which design shapes concepts of “male” and “female” and reveals how gestures, movements, and positions can imply gender norms.

Alice Rawsthorn, Courtesy of The New York Times Company

Alice Rawsthorn, Courtesy of The New York Times Company

Rawsthorn joins Maher for a presentation and discussion. Of Maher’s work, Rawsthorn says, “At a time of renewed interest in feminism and growing awareness of transgenderism, designers are striving to imbue products, graphics, environments and technology with subtler, more eclectic interpretations of gender both in commercial projects and conceptual ones like Maher’s.”

FRESH TALK: Can design be genderless? considers these questions and more on January 27. Attend the event in person or tune in remotely for the live-stream video feed. You can also add your voice on Twitter by using the hashtag #FreshTalk4Change.

—Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell is the public programs coordinator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Carrie Mae Weems and the Art of Change

In September, the National Museum of Women in the Arts launched a new public programs initiative, Women, Arts, and Social Change, focusing on women and the arts as catalysts for change. On Sunday, November 15, the museum hosted the second program in the series, FRESH TALK: Carrie Mae Weems—Can an artist inspire social change? The event’s audience provided thought-provoking commentary over Sunday Supper, through Twitter, and via comment cards. Here are a few highlights:

Carrie Mae Weems:  Keynote on an artist’s responsibility:

Weems gave a candid description of her artistic journey, saying that being an artist is “a very difficult thing to do, because you’re constantly living emotionally.”

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Carrie Mae Weems speaks at the second Women, Arts, and Social Change program; Photo: Kevin Allen

Weems’s project Social Studies 101 directly addresses the issues faced by the marginalized community of her hometown of Syracuse, New York. Syracuse has the highest concentration of extreme poverty among African Americans and Hispanics in the country. As part of her project, Weems created and displayed public billboards and lawn signs with messages including, “Stop the Senseless Violence” and “Our failure to respond is the problem!” Weems inspired the audience to think about the impact they can have on their communities.

Can art inspire social change?

Carrie Mae Weems was joined onstage by Raben Group president and founder Robert Raben. Washington Post columnist Lonnae O’Neal moderated the conversation, posing questions about the roles and spaces for art in current social justice movements, concepts of intersectionality, and the relationship between arts and policy.

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Left to right: Lonnae O’Neal, Carrie Mae Weems, and Robert Raben discuss how artists can inspire social change; Photos: Kevin Allen

During the discussion, Raben mentioned that much of what is known about the Civil Rights era is limited to a handful of stories, which have been curated by mainstream audiences. The annual March on Washington Film Festival, produced by the Raben Group, uses film, music, and art to share other relevant stories surrounding the period’s events and heroes—while inspiring a renewed passion for activism. Raben challenged, “If you care about social justice, you must care about changing the narrative.” Tweets about representation, identity, and otherness flooded the #FreshTalk4Change dialogue:

  • @VMPhoto3 quoted Weems [MT] How do you live a life without otherness. Mic drop.
  • @KiaWeatherspoon “Our history is miss-told” @RobertRaben #FreshTalk4Change
  • @eferry “Energized by Carrie Mae Weems on using art for social change #FreshTalk4Change #RBC”

Creating space for change:

Over Sunday Supper, attendees participated in lively discussions on  social justice issues among a diverse crowd. On one comment card, a participant said their experience “changed my opinion of what a museum can be.”

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Sunday Supper attendees discuss social justice with Carrie Mae Weems; Photos: Kevin Allen

Weems prompted the crowd to share their questions about how to integrate art with social change. Many artists in the audience mentioned that they hadn’t considered using art for social justice previously, but hoped to make it a key component in their future art-making practice.

The conversation initiated by Raben, O’Neal, and Weems empowered the audience to take ownership of their own stories as artists and social leaders. The conversation doesn’t stop here. Join the discussion and add your voice on Twitter with #FreshTalk4Change.

—Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell is the public programs coordinator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Righting the Balance: It Doesn’t Stop Here

NMWA’s latest initiative, Women, Arts, and Social Change, kicked off Sunday, October 18, with FRESH TALK: Righting the Balance. The new public program focuses on women and the arts as catalysts for change through a series of “Fresh Talks.”

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FRESH TALK panelists, Left: Maura Reilly, Sarah Douglas, and Jillian Steinhauer, Right: Guerrilla Girl Alma Thomas, Micol Hebron, Ghada Amer, and Simone Leigh; Photo: Kevin Allen

Women at the top of their art-world careers addressed the topic, “Can there be gender parity in the art world?” Curator and event co-organizer Maura Reilly, who wrote the central essay in the recent ARTnews magazine on women in the art world, introduced the event. Discussions featured Jillian Steinhauer of Hyperallergic, Sarah Douglas of ARTnews, Gabriela Palmieri of Sotheby’s, Mary Sabbatino of Galerie Lelong, artist Ghada Amer, artist Micol Hebron (organizer of Gallery Tally), artist Simone Leigh, Guerrilla Girl Alma Thomas, and activist/storyteller Jamia Wilson.

The goal of FRESH TALK is to keep the conversation going, and it wouldn’t be complete without input from participants, advocates, and women. We asked for your feedback during stimulating conversation over Sunday Supper and via comments. This is what you told us:

1. More women need to be heard.

Although the panel featured women from different backgrounds, talents, and career paths—Guerrilla Girl Alma Thomas was a highlight for many attendees—participants want to hear from more women of color and from the LGBT community. The next two FRESH TALK programs push these communities to the forefront of the discussion.

2. It’s time to get loud!

Artist Micol Hebron—one of the most-quoted speakers of the night—said, “If you don’t see something, say something!” When visitors notice a lack of representation of women, persons of color, and the LGBT community in museums, galleries, or other arts spaces, they should speak up! Collective voices can rally against these injustices.

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FRESH TALK attendees share their thoughts during Sunday Supper and through comment cards; Photo: Kevin Allen

3. Arts inequities are a problem for women of all ages.

A vast intergenerational audience exchanged views over Sunday Supper. Emerging women advocates sat with experienced professionals and passionately shared ideas about advancing the conversation. Intergenerational advocacy can be a strong resource in combating inequality.

4. Nonprofit art centers can make a difference too.

FRESH TALK attendees; Photo: Kevin Allen

FRESH TALK attendees Sheena Marie Morrison and Lauren Lyde; Photo: Kevin Allen

Panelists focused on data concerning gender inequity in the arts—particularly in sales and auction prices of art by women.

Nonprofit and alternative art spaces work as resources contesting the status quo. Many institutions thrive under the leadership of women, especially in D.C. We look forward to hearing more about the challenges that local centers face through an upcoming Cultural Capital series.

5. Now is the time to strike!

Fueled with the knowledge of engaging panelists, the event’s participants were inspired to take action. One commenter wants to host a protest for women artists, while another hopes to encourage her university gallery to collect and display work by women. An educator plans to empower her students to continue to challenge inequity.

It doesn’t stop here. Stay tuned for more FRESH TALK programs and get involved in the fight for gender equity in the arts. Mark your calendars for “Carrie Mae Weems: Can an artist inspire social change?” on November 15 and “Change by Design with Gabriel Maher and Alice Rawsthorn—Can design be genderless?” on January 27, 2016.

—Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell is the public programs coordinator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Food, Drink, and Fun: After Hours at NMWA!

Last Thursday, the museum held NMWA Nights: Earthly Delights, an after-hours event featuring two new exhibitions, Super Natural and Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015. Hosted together with members of the Young pARTners Circle, NMWA Nights provided staff-led tours of the exhibitions for over 100 attendees.

Attendees explore exhibition artworks, including Organic Matters artist Dawn Holder's Monoculture; Photo credit: Laura Hoffman

Attendees explore exhibition artworks, including Organic Matters artist Dawn Holder’s Monoculture; Photograph: Laura Hoffman

Super Natural features women artists who do not simply document nature but treat the natural world as a space for discovery and invention. Historical and contemporary depictions of plants, animals, and natural landscapes are juxtaposed to show the diverse ways that nature has inspired women artists.

Organic Matters is a part of a series presented every two to three years in which the museum’s national and international committees nominate up-and-coming women artists from their region to exhibit at NMWA. This year’s 13 selected artists work with the subject of nature in mediums ranging from photography to fiberglass.

Guests contribute paper flowers to a collaborative floor installation

Flowers in a collaborative installation; Photograph: Laura Hoffman

Between tours, guests met on the Mezzanine to sip on the specialty cocktail, cleverly named “Metamorphosis.” Participants sampled an array of tasty snacks—provided by Dirty South Deli in collaboration with Union Kitchen—all while listening to tunes by DJ Flying Fortress.

In the Great Hall, attendees explored their crafty side by pushing the boundaries of paper. Guests sculpted flowers and contributed them to a collaborative art project.

The floor installation featuring everyone’s paper flora and fauna was inspired by Organic Matters artist Rebecca Hutchinson’s Patterns of Nature.

Many added to a projected photo collage by instagramming their artwork and photo booth fun with the hashtag #NMWAnights.

Everyone who instagrammed—anything from floral photos to face-in-the-hole shots of collection artwork—was entered into a photo contest to win delightful prizes. Check out @womeninthearts on Instagram to see what people captured!

To stay informed about future NMWA Nights, networking events, and other fun and enriching opportunities, please visit the online calendar or join the Young pARTners Circle.

—Bridget Mazet is the development intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.