#5WomenArtists Up Close: the Jewish Museum

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 JiaJia Fei, director of digital at the Jewish Museum, about her museum’s commitments—and get inspired to make your own.

Is this the Jewish Museum’s first year participating in #5WomenArtists?

The Jewish Museum has proudly partnered with NMWA on #5WomenArtists since the campaign’s launch in 2016. Like many online movements, #5WomenArtists may have started on social media, but has extended to in-person gatherings, inspiring programming at the Jewish Museum that highlights women artists and brings our online communities together.

JiaJia Fei stands in the center of a room of the Martha Rosler exhibition wearing black pants and a black tshirt that reads "Men Have Made a Lot of Bad Art" with her right hand up with peace fingers.

JiaJia Fei at the Jewish Museum’s Martha Rosler exhibition

Why is the #5WomenArtists campaign important to the Jewish Museum?

The Jewish Museum has a long history of supporting women artists, from offering the museum’s first solo exhibition to Helen Frankenthaler in the 1960s, to major surveys of work by Eva Hesse (2006), Louise Nevelson (2007), Maira Kalman (2011), Florine Stettheimer (2017) and most recently, a survey on Martha Rosler (2018)—but there is still more work to be done. Our digital platforms offer the opportunity to amplify the work of women artists in our collection even further, and allow us to highlight works not on view.

Tell us about your pledged action(s).

The Jewish Museum just organized its second Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, in partnership with Art+Feminism, to improve the representation of women artists in the museum’s collection on Wikipedia. It brought dozens of participants together to combat the gender imbalance on Wikipedia, and, by extension, the art world. We will also feature women artists on our social media channels and Medium stories, as well as merchandise made by women in our shop.

Which women artists will you be highlighting? Can you share any fun facts about them or their art?

This year we’re highlighting women artists on view in Scenes from the Collection, including Elaine Lustig Cohen, Chantal Joffe, Deborah Kass, and Louise Nevelson. Our iconic OY/YO (2016) sculpture by Deborah Kass, although three feet wide in the gallery, also comes in adorable reproductions as keychains, earrings, cufflinks, necklaces, t-shirts, and baby onesies in the shop.

Two female participants at the Jewish Museum’s March 3, 2019, Wikipedia-Edit-a-thon, wearing “OY/YO” t-shirts--the photos shows them from the back.

Two participants at the Jewish Museum’s March 3, 2019, Wikipedia-Edit-a-thon, wearing “OY/YO” t-shirts inspired by the Deborah Kass sculpture

Some critics have called the renewed focus on women artists a “trend”—from your institutional perspective, how will you maintain the energy of this initiative beyond March?

Until women—including women of color—are adequately represented in the art world as artists, curators, and directors, the focus on elevating the work of women should continue with urgency. The Jewish Museum will continue to celebrate the legacies of women like art dealer Edith Halpert, the subject of our exhibition in fall 2019. As the first significant female gallerist in the United States, she supported women and immigrants, and hers was the first gallery in New York City to promote the work of African American artists. Until all of these voices are represented, the conversation will continue to be incomplete.

—JiaJia Fei is the director of digital at the Jewish Museum; Alicia Gregory is the assistant editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Art Fix Friday: March 8, 2019

A #5WomenArtists graphic with a quote that says: "My teachers always said, 'You're very talented, but don't set your heart on art. You're only a girl." - Carolee Schneeman

Download and share #5WomenArtists quotes, facts, and pledge graphics

We’re wrapping up our first week of #5WomenArtists with over 450 institutional participants sharing their commitments to advancing gender equity in the arts, along with countless stories of women artists throughout history. Check out a profile of the campaign in Forbes.

This week we interviewed North Carolina Museum of Art Director Dr. Valerie Hillings on her museum’s commitments, and we shared 5 Fast Facts about the life and work of Magdalena Abakanowicz. Join the conversation: #5WomenArtists, @WomenInTheArts.

Front-Page Femmes

New York City has announced it will honor Billie Holiday, Helen Rodríguez Trías, Elizabeth Jennings Graham, and Katherine Walker with statues in their home boroughs—an effort to right the “glaring” gender imbalance in the city’s public memorials.

Get to know 5 female artists from Hong Kong who are shaking up the art scene with their “bold, boundary-breaking work.”

Koyo Kouoh has been named executive director and chief curator of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, following the resignation of Mark Coetzee after claims of misconduct.

Pioneering painter, performance artist, and filmmaker Carolee Schneemann, who reimagined the body as an artistic medium, has died at the age of 79.

A photograph of Carolee Schneemann at age 78, staring candidly at the camera in front of one of her works--slightly blurred in the background, a topless woman seemingly holding something at waist level.

Carolee Schneemann at the opening of her exhibition in Frankfurt Germany in 2017; © dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo

Hyperallergic reviews the Armory Show 2019, noting the “uptick in artworks by women and people of color,” including Stephanie Syjuco and Caitlin Cherry.

Inked magazine profiles 10 female tattoo artists who changed the industry—starting with “the OG artist” Maud Wagner who worked in the 1900s.

The New York Times “Overlooked” series profiles Julia Morgan, the pioneering female architect who was a prolific designer of hundreds of buildings, including Hearst Castle.

The Guardian interviews Betty Tompkins, whose explicit paintings inspired by pornography are finally being celebrated. They are “taking an abusive history and repurposing it.”

Femmes Film Festival Dubai kicks off this month with a focus on female directors and an international photography exhibition by women artists.

Rapper, actor, and Crazy Rich Asians star Awkwafina has a new show coming to Comedy Central—and her writer’s room will be all women.

Shows We Want to See

A painting by Alicia McCarthy, comprising of countless rainbow lines in square shapes inside of one another.

Alicia McCarthy, Untitled, 2016, gouache, latex paint, and spray paint on wood panel; Image courtesy of the artist and Jack Hanley Gallery

In Columbus, Alicia McCarthy: No Straight Lines is on view at the Wexner Center for the Arts, featuring the artist’s abstract works influenced by punk and queer subcultures, graffiti, and folk art. McCarthy has said, “I want my work to reflect all the beauty and pain of everyday life. All woven together and interconnecting to create [images] based in line and color.” McCarthy used surplus paint from leftover Wexner exhibits to create the works, emphasizing her commitment to using recycled materials. On view through
August 1.

Lisa Reihana’s video installation in Pursuit of Venus [infected] comes to the Honolulu Museum of Art where it reinterprets the 19th-century decorative wallpaper Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique, which is in the museum’s collection. Reihana’s “animated encounters between European visitors and Pacific people play out against the wallpaper’s picturesque backdrop, disrupting historical narratives and challenging stereotypes that originated in the myths of empire.” On view through July 14.

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

5 Fast Facts: Magdalena Abakanowicz

As part of NMWA’s #5WomenArtists campaign, impress your friends with five fast facts about artist Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930–2017), whose work is part of NMWA’s collection.

A large red, circular, sculpture of textured cloth hangs from the ceiling of a gallery.

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Abakan Red, 1969, pictured in NMWA’s 2007 WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution exhibition; sisal weaving on metal support; Collection of the Museum Bellerive, Zurich

1. The Horrors of War

When she was only nine years old, Abakanowicz’s beloved surroundings in Poland became a war zone under Nazi occupation during World War II. She witnessed her mother being shot in the arm by German soldiers. Throughout her career, she would be driven by a universal truth: “Humans could accomplish so much while also being responsible for their own fall.”

2. Breakthrough

After starting her career as a painter in the 1950s, Abakanowicz moved on to textiles, winning the Grand Prix of the São Paulo Biennial in 1965 for her first major body of work, Abakans (ca. 1960s)—large-scale, three-dimensional, soft sculptures. Using her memories of nature and war, Abakanowicz astonished her audiences with these “complicated, huge, magical forms.”

3. One with Nature

Natural elements, miniature and massive, inspired Abakanowicz. While making the gouache Fish (1955–56), she recalls being “provoked by an inexplicable inner process, a force only apparently understood.” Works like Bois-le-Duc (1970–71) evoke monumental tree trunks and may reflect her whimsical inquisitiveness as a youth exploring Polish forests.

4. Humanizing War

Continually influenced by the effects of war, Abakanowicz began scaling her work down to human proportions. In 4 Seated Figures (2002), part of NMWA’s collection, a row of androgynous figures appear hollow, exposed, and fragmented. Using rough burlap to portray a worn exterior, she evokes the vulnerability of victims of war.

Magdalena Abakanowicz, 4 Seated Figures, 2002; Burlap, resin, and iron rods, 53 1/2 x 24 1/4 x 99 1/4 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts; © Magdalena Abakanowicz

Magdalena Abakanowicz, 4 Seated Figures, 2002; Burlap, resin, and iron rods, 53 1/2 x 24 1/4 x 99 1/4 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts; © Magdalena Abakanowicz

5. Public Art 

NMWA’s New York Avenue Sculpture Project, a public art space featuring contemporary works by women artists, featured Abakanowicz’s figurative sculptures from September 2014 to September 2015. Her work Agora (2004–2006), an installation of 106 headless and armless iron sculptures, is on permanent loan in Chicago’s Grant Park from the Polish Ministry of Culture.

—Olivia Lussi was the fall 2016 education intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts and Adrienne L. Gayoso is the senior educator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

#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

Art Fix Friday: March 1, 2019

Happy Women’s History Month! NMWA’s annual #5WomenArtists campaign kicks off today, challenging individuals and cultural institutions to take action toward achieving gender equity in the art world.

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.

The #5WomenArtists campaign is back for a fourth year, this time with a new call for action

Now in its fourth year, the campaign has engaged 11,000 people and 1,000 organizations in highlighting the fact that women artists remain underrepresented—and their work undervalued—in the art world. Learn and share some shocking facts and figures, and join us all month long: you can publicly pledge to support women artists, and share stories about your favorite women artists by using #5WomenArtists and tagging @WomenIntheArts.

Front-Page Femmes

United Airlines launches HerArtHere, a new contest for female artists to design the exterior of a Boeing 757 airplane. Two winners will be selected and mentored by artist Shantell Martin.

Apollo magazine looks at why “the disadvantages of being a woman artist haven’t yet disappeared.”

Artsy explores the role of jewelry in women’s portraiture, calling it a “complex signifier” of wealth, refinement, authority, and politics.

At this year’s Park Avenue Armory Art Fair, “uncompromising female artists dominate in the top booths,” including Judith Linhares, Annabeth Rosen, and Alice Neel.

Christie’s profiles 82-year-old artist Arpita Singh, “the next really big thing for Indian art.”

A photo of artist Arpita Singh painting in her studio. She holds a pallet of mixed blues and has her brush raised to the canvas.

Arpita Singh at work in her studio; Photo courtesy of the artist and Vadehra Art Gallery

The Art Newspaper podcast talks to Alyce Mahon, curator of the Tate Modern’s new Dorothea Tanning exhibition.

Turkish artist and journalist Zehra Doğa is released from prison after serving 25 months for posting a picture of an anti-war painting to social media.

Jordan Casteel speaks to Art21 about how her paintings are changing the narrative about black men.

Hyperallergic reviews Flying High: Women Artists of Art Brut, now on view in Vienna, Austria, comprising more than 300 works from 93 self-taught women artists.

Essence profiles architectural designer Tiffany Brown, who has helped over 400 black women become licensed architects, and is looking to support 400 more.

The New York City Ballet announced new leadership, including former ballerina Wendy Whelan as associate artistic director, after an institutional reckoning last year with sex-based misconduct.

Shows We Want to See

A circle that contains different patterned and shaped cuts from various quilts.

Adia Millett, quilt from Breaking Patterns; Photo courtesy of the artist

The multimedia works of Oakland-based artist Adia Millett are on view at the California African American Museum in Adia Millett: Breaking Patterns. Millet explores themes of identity, personal memory, and collective history—specifically that of African American women—in collage, assemblage, photography, textiles, and painting. Millett’s process of repurposing materials adds “layers of meaning to her work’s distorted spaces and skewed perspectives.” On view through August 25, 2019.

At the Plains Art Museum in North Dakota, Waasamoo-Beshizi (Power-Lines) features the work of 25 contemporary Native American women artists, recognizing them as “central contributors, shapers, and culture bearers within Native communities…and the narrative of contemporary art.” The exhibition’s title alludes to the shapes of power lines and transmission towers, which resemble dresses. Many of the participating artists “engage with weaving, clothing, and textile traditions while reflecting on culture and identity,” a process that embodies celebration, honor, and remembrance. On view through July 31, 2019.

—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: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

Impress your friends with five fast facts about artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (b.1940), whose work Indian, Indio, Indigenous (1992) is on view in NMWA’s newly reinstalled collection galleries.

1. Cultural Arts Worker

Smith describes herself as a “cultural arts worker” and uses her art to raise awareness of the maltreatment of the Native American community, both historically and today. She uses a combination of traditional tribal motifs and contemporary symbols to call attention to issues regarding human rights, consumerism, and the environment.

A large-scale collage including striped and polka-dotted fabrics; the masthead of Smith's reservation newspaper, Char-Koosta; parts of a U.S. map; and a comic strip. These collaged elements are juxtaposed with blocks of stained or roughly brushed and dripped paint.

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Indian, Indio, Indigenous, 1992; Oil and collage on canvas, 60 x 100 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Museum purchase: Members’ Acquisition Fund; © Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

2. Power in Numbers

Since the 1970s, Smith has curated exhibitions highlighting Native women artists to counteract art world gender imbalance. She recalled that “one woman… laid [an exhibition] catalog against her cheek and cried, she had no idea there were so many Native women artists out there and she no longer felt alone.”

A painted image of a bird with some stick figure faces drawn in the background, the words "Batteries Not Included" are typewritten vertically on the left side. The colors are terracotta neutrals -- brown, tan, red, and orange, with a bit of blue on the bird.

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Four Directions, 1994; Lithograph with linocut collage, 48 1/4 x 34 x 1 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Anastasia Pfarr; © Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

3. Going Green

Smith has described her work as “Nomad Art,” which embodies the ideals of Nomadic life: take only what you need from the earth and respect the materials that you use. Many of her artworks include biodegradable materials like rice glue, charcoal, and rag paper.

4. Horse Power

Horses are a common motif in Smith’s works. This imagery was influenced by her father’s role as a horse trader and rodeo rider in the Pacific Northwest and California. Horses run through Smith’s works such as Trick Rider (1999) and War Horse in Babylon (2005).

5. Pioneering Change

As one of the first Native women to be recognized as a renowned modern and contemporary artist, Smith has stated that “[Her] generation is the first to break the ‘buckskin ceiling.’”

—Erin Allen is the winter/spring 2019 education intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: February 22, 2019

A portrait of a woman wearing a head scarf and red sweater, holding up a mask of, seemingly, her own face, made from plaster or clay. This is a promotional photo for the Doc Fortnight 2019 feature, Serendipity, directed by Prune Nourry.

Promotion photo from Serendipity, directed by Prune Nourry, the opening film for Doc Fortnight 2019; Photo courtesy of Léa Crespi

Doc Fortnight, the annual showcase of documentary films at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) kicked off last night. Notable this year? Most of the 17 features are directed by female filmmakers.

Many of the 2019 films “bring unique perspectives to major global issues, including a range of stories from the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia.” MoMA also recently completed the second of four seasons of The Future of Film is Female, an initiative to champion contemporary films directed by emerging women filmmakers.

Front-Page Femmes

NMWA Associate Curator Virginia Treanor appeared on the Kojo Nnamdi show—along with artist Ambreen Butt, whose work is currently featured at the museum, and Ximena Varela, Director of the Arts Management program at American University—to discuss diversity at major art museums in Washington, D.C.

Museum Hue interviews Dr. Andrea Myers Achi, Assistant Curator of Medieval Art at the Met, the first black women to hold the position and the second black curator in the Met’s almost 150-year history.

Sotheby’s announced an all-women artist’s auction taking place on March 1 on New York City, “By Women, For Tomorrow’s Women,” organized in partnership with Miss Porter’s School.

Artsy profiles women artists who are transforming gallery walls with murals. “You give women the opportunity to go large-scale, they will do it.”

For the country’s debut at the Venice Biennale, Pakistan will present work by multidisciplinary artist Naiza Khan.

Artist Naiza Kahn wears a navy blue blouse and holds a paintbruch with orange paint on it over a canvas in her studio.

Pakistani artist Naiza Khan will represent the country at the Venice Biennale; © Carlotta Cardana

The Guardian spotlights current exhibitions featuring “some of Latin America’s finest talents,” including Mariana Castillo Deball, Graciela Iturbide, and Beatriz Cortez.

Hyperallergic reviews the new anthology New Media Futures: The Rise of Women in the Digital Arts, deeming it “a valuable tool for those interested in the intersection [of] art, women artists, and technology.”

Artsy explores what the different depictions of Queen Nefertiti say about the way society views gender and race.

Women lead the L.A. Times Book Prize nominations, with Michelle Obama, Susan Orlean, Rebecca Makkai, Tayari Jones, Elizabeth Acevedo, and others up for awards.

Shows We Want to See

Yukultji Napangati’s first U.S. solo exhibition is on view through March 2 at Salon 94 in New York City. A leading figure in Australia’s contemporary Aboriginal painting movement, Napangati’s formally abstract works evoke the vast Western Desert where she was born. “She translates her…intimate knowledge of the desert landscape into hypnotising cartographic compositions of lines and dots in acrylic paint.” For Napangati, the landscape is “charged with layers of mythology and history—carrying The Dreaming of all her ancestors.”

Three of Guo Fengyi's intricate drawings hang on the white walls of the Gladstone Gallery--they are very tall, possibly 7 or 8 feet, and done in earthy, warm color tones. The figures resemble hybrids between animals, monsters, and/or humans.

Installation view of Guo Fengyi at Gladstone Gallery; Photo: Philippe De Gobert; Courtesy of Gladstone Gallery, New York, Brussels

The works of the late Chinese-born artist Guo Fengyi are on view at the Gladstone Gallery in Brussels through March 9. Guo was a self-trained artist who suffered from arthritis and turned to the ancient practice of qi-gong to cope with her ailments. Through qi-gong, she reached varying states of consciousness that she translated into drawings and paintings. Over the years, her work depicted varied subjects: unseen objects such as human organs and energy channels, fantastical or invented subjects, and “vibrant and deeply personal portraits.”

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

“We Will No Longer Be Seen and Not Heard”: Barbara Kruger’s Imagery and Hollywood’s Gender Inequity

In 1971, art historian Linda Nochlin penned the essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” The now-famous piece interrogated the systematic obstacles that have prevented women from succeeding in the arts. This year, on the heels of the 2019 Oscar nominations—in which no women directors were nominated—a similar question arises: why have there been no great women directors? In 91 years of Oscar history, only five women have been nominated for Best Director, and only one, Kathryn Bigelow, has ever won. The lack of recognition reveals the systematic gender bias prevalent in the film industry.

In a culture dominated by the white male viewpoint, films made by women offer an important, alternative perspective. In Mary Queen of Scots (2018), starring Saoirse Ronan and directed by Josie Rourke, Rourke revisits “history from a female perspective. We’ve not been telling the historical stories of women very well.” Indeed, the representation of women in film has historically been from a male perspective. Film theorist Laura Mulvey’s term “male gaze” reveals the dynamic: women are passive objects who are being looked at, while men are active, seeing subjects who construct the female image to please the male viewer.

Using Visual Culture to Challenge Visual Culture

In Untitled (We Will No Longer Be Seen and Not Heard) (1992), currently on view at NMWA, Kruger plays with the gendered dichotomies of passivity and activity. The piece comprises a photograph printed on aluminum, overlaid with lines of text in white-on-red strips. The picture is cropped tightly on the face of a laughing woman. She holds what appears to be opera glasses and looks through them at the viewer. The statement, printed in bold letters, suggests that women want to be the makers of their own image.

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (We Will No Longer Be Seen and Not Heard), 1992; Lithograph on embossed foil, 11 x 8 3/4 x 3/4 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in honor of the artist and the Thirtieth Anniversary of the National Museum of Women in the Arts; Photo: Courtesy of Derriere L’Etoile Studios

Artist Barbara Kruger
(b. 1945) has challenged dominant modes of representation in her work since the 1970s. By using found images and incorporating provocative slogans in bold letters, she draws attention to how visual culture shapes our perception of gender, and how it reinforces a binary gender system that objectifies women. In the context of the Oscars’ gender inequity, Kruger’s work can be seen as an amplification of the voices of women.

In Untitled (We Will No Longer Be Seen and Not Heard) (1992), currently on view at NMWA, Kruger plays with the gendered dichotomies of passivity and activity. The piece comprises a photograph printed on aluminum, overlaid with lines of text in white-on-red strips. The picture is cropped tightly on the face of a laughing woman. She holds what appears to be opera glasses and looks through them at the viewer. The statement, printed in bold letters, suggests that women want to be the makers of their own image. “I see my work as a series of attempts to ruin certain representations, to displace the subject, and to welcome a female spectator into the audience of men,” Kruger has said.

The white male viewpoint has historically defined Western visual culture: from painting to photography, to film. As the Oscars demonstrate, the only way to change the status quo is to let women author their own stories, and make their own images.

—Louisa Potthast is the winter/spring 2019 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

5 Fast Facts: Laure Tixier

Impress your friends with five fast facts about artist Laure Tixier (b. 1972). Tixier’s Plaid Houses (Maquettes) (2005–11), currently on view in NMWA’s collection galleries, explore a range of architectural styles in a rainbow of colors, referencing the variety, beauty, and complexities of the built environment.

1. Earliest Green Architecture

White Hut and Brown Usha Hut recall modest, vernacular architecture from around the world. Historically, huts were constructed of natural materials like animal skin, wool, grass, earth, and wood. Yurts or gers, a type of portable hut, have been common dwellings for nomadic Central Asians for centuries.

A row of multi-colored felt houses of different styles.

Laure Tixier, Plaid Houses (Maquettes): Blue Japan House, Blue Art Deco House, Red Deconstructivist House, White Hut, Acid Green Dome House, Brown Usha Hut, Pink Tower, Turquoise Blue Colonial House (Barbados), Orange Breton House, 2005–11; Wool, felt, and thread, dimensions variable; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Les Amis du NMWA, Paris, France; © Laure Tixier

2. Sunny Side

Orange Breton House is a nod to chaumières (thatched cottages) in Brittany, France’s northwest coastal region. Characteristics of these traditional dwellings include walls of local stone like granite, schist, or sandstone; steep gabled roofs covered with dry vegetation; and siting facing south to make the most of daily sunlight.

3. Streamlined Structure

Blue Art Deco House celebrates the first truly international architectural movement. Born in Europe in the early 20th century and introduced worldwide at the 1925 Paris International Exhibition, Art Deco is a simple, symmetrical style that boasts clean lines and the innovative use of manufactured materials like plastic and concrete.

4. Disjointed Diva

Tixier’s red asymmetrical house reflects Deconstructivism, a postmodern architectural style that emerged in the 1980s. It often incorporates organic shapes, acute and obtuse angles, and irregular surface areas to impart a sense of chaos. Practitioners include Zaha Hadid (1950–2016), the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize (2004).

 A young girl with her blond hair in a ponytail, wearing a purple shirt, and holding a NMA visitor's guide, looks excitedly at Laure Tixier's Plaid Houses (Maquettes). Her mother stands behind her also enjoying the work.

A young NMWA visitor experiences Laure Tixier’s Plaid Houses (Maquettes) (2005–11) during the 2019 Women’s March on Washington Free Community Day; Photo by Kevin Allen

5. Imperialist Edifice

Turquois Blue Colonial House (Barbados) reminds viewers of colonialism’s long-term impact on culture, community members’ self-determination, and commodities. A British colony from 1625 to 1966, Barbados reflects prevailing architectural styles from England. This form resembles the Jacobean St. Nicholas Abbey, built as a sugarcane plantation house in 1658.

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