Art Fix Friday: March 6, 2020

Hyperallergic profiles Iraqi-born artist Sama Alshaibi, who addresses migration, war, and gender in her works. Alshaibi has designed an installation, The Cessation, for the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s State of the Art 2020 exhibition. It revives elements from the famous tale A Thousand and One Nights to comment on current socio-political realities.

Sama Alshaibi, The Cessation, 2019; Photo courtesy of Seale Photography Studios
Join our #5WomenArtists campaign by sharing your favorite women artists working to change the world on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook using the hashtag #5WomenArtists and tagging @WomenInTheArts

Originally created in a residency program in San Antonio, Texas, where the piece commented on women in public space, the installation takes advantage of its new museum location to respond to the representation of women in art institutions, another manifestation of gender inequality.

Front-page Femmes

Dublin-based architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton have won the 2020 Pritzker Prize; they are only the fourth and fifth women to win the prize in its 41-year history.

Artsy asked leading women artists, including Shirin Neshat, Anicka Yi, and Senga Nengudi, to share the emerging and underrepresented talents who inspire them.

Geometric artist Carmen Herrera will design a new mural in New York City’s East Harlem neighborhood; students from Publicolor, an arts and education program, and Manhattan East School will execute the design.

Artsy profiles photographer Liz Johnson Artur, whose photographs capture the vibrancy of black youth culture.

Liz Johnson Artur, Black Balloon Archive, 1992–ongoing; © Liz Johnson Artur; Courtesy of the artist

The New Yorker interviews actress Pam Grier about country living, blaxploitation, and the needs of Hollywood.

Artsy reports on the record number of female solo presentations at the 2020 Art Dealers Association of America fair.

The Washington Post shares Marissa Roth’s ocean photography series “The Crossing.”

June Edmonds has won the inaugural $10,000 Aware Prize, presented by Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions, at the Armory Show.

Juxtapoz interviews Ana Benaroya about pop culture, her interest in bodies and musculature, Celine Dion, and the balance between highbrow and lowbrow.

The New York Times profiles Nadia Boulanger, pioneering composer, conductor, and teacher, who will be first woman whose work is explored by the three-decade-old Bard Music Festival.

Slate interviews Cassie Chambers about Hill Women, her new memoir of family and Appalachian history.

Shows We Want to See

Jodie Herrera, Danielle, ca. 2018; Included in The Unseen group show

The Unseen, an all-female group show, opens today at Stone Sparrow in New York City. Participating artists including Rose Freymuth-Frazier, Ximena Rendon, Gigi Chen, and Jodi Herrera are from around the globe and work in paint, ceramic, textiles, fine metal, and wearable art jewelry. On view through March 31.

At Auto Italia in London, Hot Moment presents the work of Tessa Boffin, Ingrid Pollard, and Jill Posener—three photographers who explore the complexity of lesbian identity. The exhibition’s images emerge from the context of political struggles around reproductive rights, the onset of HIV/AIDS in the U.K., police stop-and-search laws, and uprisings in urban areas. Frieze notes the care, humor, and style with which these artists pushed back against poisonous cultural narratives. On view through March 14.

At New York City’s Bard Graduate Center Gallery, Eileen Gray features more than 200 architectural drawings and models, pieces of furniture, and textiles from the pioneer of modern design and architecture. Artnet calls the exhibition “a long-overdue look at one of Modernism’s great talents.” On view through July 12.

—Alexa Kasner is the spring 2020 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

5 Fast Facts About #5WomenArtists Changing the World: Guerrilla Girls

Since 1985, the Guerrilla Girls, a collective of anonymous feminist activist artists, have brought widespread attention to the issues of sexism and racism in the art world. By disrupting mainstream culture and media with posters, billboards, publications, social media, public appearances, and exhibitions, this group calls out bias—and advocates for gender equity—in art, film, pop culture, and even politics.

A black and white ad that features an empty left hand side of the page and an all-caps vertical message on the right hand side that says "You're Seeing Less Than Half the Picture." Under that, also in all caps it reads "Without the vision of women artists and artists of color." Below that is Guerrila Girls name in bold caps followed by "Conscience of the Art World."

Guerrilla Girls, You’re seeing less than half the picture… (from the series “Guerrilla Girls Talk Back: The First Five Years, 1985–1990”), 1989; Photolithograph on paper, 17 x 22 in.; NMWA, Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in honor of Wilhelmina Cole Holladay

Share your favorite women artists working for gender equity on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook using the hashtag #5WomenArtists and tagging @WomenInTheArts.

1. The Conscience of the Art World

The Guerrilla Girls address systemic discrimination by “revealing the understory, the subtext, the overlooked, and the downright unfair.” Though members obfuscate their identities by wearing gorilla masks and adopting the names of deceased—and often forgotten—women artists, the collective isn’t shy about shaming specific collectors, critics, museums, galleries, and publications for their problematic practices.

2. Creative Complaining

The group reveals shocking statistics and presents them with sardonic wit and surprising graphics. This strategy shakes audiences out of complacency and encourages action. One famous tactic—the museum “weenie count”—juxtaposes the percentage of female artists whose work is on view with the percentage of nude women, painted by men, on display. Try this revealing exercise during your next museum visit.

GG viewers

Visitors observe a selection of Guerrilla Girls' posters in NMWA's collection; Photo by Kevin Allen

hormone imbalance_melanin def

Guerrilla Girls, Hormone imbalance. Melanin deficiency. (from the series "Guerrilla Girls Talk Back: Portfolio 2"), 1993; Ink on postcard, 17 x 11 in.; NMWA, Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in honor of Wilhelmina Cole Holladay

horror on natl mall_GG

Guerrilla Girls, Horror on the National Mall!, 2007; Color photolithograph on paper, 23 x 13 in.; NMWA, Gift of Susan Fisher Sterling in honor of Steven Scott; © Guerrilla Girls, Courtesy of www.guerrillagirls.com; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Guerrilla Girls_pop quiz march

Guerrilla Girls, Guerrilla Girls' Pop Quiz (from the series "Guerrilla Girls Talk Back: The First Five Years, 1985–1990), 1987; Photolithograph on paper, 17 x 22 in.; NMWA, Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in honor of Wilhelmina Cole Holladay

3. The Only “ism” Here is Feminism!
By 1989, when the Guerrilla Girls created When Racism And Sexism Are No Longer Fashionable…, NMWA already owned artworks by 34 of the artists named. Today, the museum’s collection features works by more than 1,000 artists, including 46 of those mentioned. Can you find artwork by artists on that list at your favorite museum? If not, ask why!

4. Not OK!

While the Guerrilla Girls initially addressed the lack of diversity in the New York art world, the group’s work has grown to point out inequities throughout the U.S. and abroad. In 2007, the collective collaborated with the Washington Post to admonish “boy crazy” federally funded D.C. arts institutions. The capitol city’s top art museums held very few pieces of art by women, with most of it kept in storage, not on display.

5. Guerrillas in Our Midst

NMWA hosted a special exhibition, The Guerrilla Girls Talk Back, in 2011, featuring a selection of the museum’s 84 works by the collective. Today, several of their works are on view in the thematic collection gallery “Rebels with a Cause”—swing by the museum to see them in person.

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

Art Fix Friday: February 28, 2019

In an op-ed for Artnet, Susan Unterberg writes about her experiences as an artist—and as the founder of Anonymous Was A Woman, an organization that has awarded more than $6 million in grants to 240 women artists over the age of 40 since it began in 1996.

Susan Unterberg, stands smiling at a podium during the Skowhegan Awards Dinner 2019 in New York City, in the background previous award winners clap and smile for her, against a purple velvet curtain.

Susan Unterberg, during the Skowhegan Awards Dinner 2019 in New York City, in front of previous award winners; Photo by Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Unterberg’s feminist philanthropy comes with no strings attached, allowing artists freedom regarding how their funds are used. “This kind of philanthropy brings with it the non-judgmental understanding that paying for childcare may be as valuable as investing in new materials or traveling for a project,” she writes.

Front-Page Femmes

Brightest Young Things reviews NMWA’s latest exhibition, Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico, opening today, noting the exhibition’s celebration of rituals “big and small, arcane and common.”

Zadie Smith examines Kara Walker’s drawing what I want history to do to me (1994), exploring the complexities of black womanhood and desire in Walker’s oeuvre.

Shirin Neshat talks to Frieze about her exhibition at The Broad and to The Art Newspaper about why Frida Kahlo is one of her favorite artists.

Bonnie MacLean, the celebrated psychedelic artist who designed posters for rock music legends such as the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix, has died at age 80.

The New York Times Style Magazine reviews Haegue Yang’s In the Cone of Uncertainty, on view at The Bass in Miami.

Artist Haegue Yang stands in a spotlight in the middle of her immersive exhibition, in a room with red lighting, and big banner-like structures hung from the ceiling. She looks up at one of the structures that has a red circle of light projected on it.

Haegue Yang with Red Broken Mountainous Labyrinth (2008), on view at The Bass Museum of Art; Photo by Shane Lavalette

The Palestine Museum US in Woodbridge, Connecticut, will celebrate International Women’s Day with an exhibition of more than 200 works by 50 Palestinian female artists.

The National Gallery of Australia’s Know My Name public art event will activate 1,500 locations across the country with works by 45 female-identifying Australian artists from the gallery’s collection.

The New York Times interviews Claudia Rankine about Help, her latest play, which was partly inspired by her 2019 article about air travel and race.

Hyperallergic interviews director Jennie Livingston on the lasting legacy of her documentary Paris is Burning, which has entered the Criterion Collection.

Novels by Virginia Woolf, Angela Carter, and Emily Brontë are headed to the theater this year; the shows’ creative teams reflect on bringing well-loved stories to the stage.

Shows We Want to See

Multimedia Brazilian artist Solange Pessoa’s  first European solo show, In the Sun and the Shade, is on view at Mendes Wood DM in Brussels through April 11; this coincides with her first solo show in the U.S., Longilonge, on view at Ballroom Marfa in Texas through April 19. Pessoa’s work is inspired by the archaeology, ancestry, and history of her home, Minas Gerais. It explores the harmonies that exist between religion, modernity, and the natural world.

A small quilt-like textile features an image of former Chilean President Salvador Allende, whose government was overthrown by dictator Pinochet, over mountains with his hand in an upward motion. Eleven figures put their hands up in response as they stand among trees.

Arpillera from Arte, Mujer y Memoria: Arpilleras from Chile at the Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, California

At the Museum of Latin American Art in California Arte, Mujer y Memoria: Arpilleras from Chile is on view through March 29. The exhibition features over 30 arpilleras, colorful textile works that document the experiences of Chilean citizens under the Pinochet regime, created by women affected. The works were created anonymously and sold internationally through women-centered networks established by exiles and their allies. Hyperallergic reviews the show.

—Alexa Kasner is the spring 2020 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

#5WomenArtists 2020: Women Artists Changing the World

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.

#5WomenArtists is back for a fifth year with a focus on women artists who address social issues; Clockwise (from top-left corner): Guerrilla Girls, Kiki Kogelnik, Ambreen Butt, Jennifer Celio, Cindy Sherman, Susan Goethel Campbell, Alma Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Mónica Mayer, Amy Sherald, Tanya Habjouqa, Judy Chicago, Barbara Kruger, Betsabeé Romero, Faith Ringgold, Nan Goldin, Jami Porter Lara, Howardena Pindell

From 2016 to 2019, more than 1,500 cultural institutions from seven continents and 54 countries have participated. Last year, the campaign moved from awareness to action, challenging cultural organizations and individuals to pledge tangible actions to help right the art world’s gender imbalance. Over 750 institutions and 8,000 individuals answered the call.

This year, in the campaign’s fifth year, #5WomenArtists recognizes women who are using art to make change and drive awareness about globally relevant issues and topics. NMWA asks museums, galleries, and other cultural institutions to share art and information about artists who explore key social issues, including gender equity, immigration, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, climate change, and more.

To get started, learn about a few of these artists addressing social issues below. We’ll highlight more here on the blog throughout the month. Share your own favorites on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook using the hashtag #5WomenArtists and tagging @WomenInTheArts.

Gender Equity: Judy Chicago

Chicago is an influential feminist artist, author, and educator. Her pioneering work helped establish and grow the Feminist Art Movement of the 1960s and ’70s. Though best known for her installation The Dinner Party (1974–79), her full body of work—spanning more than five decades—addresses themes from women’s lives, interrogates masculinity, and aims to center the experience of women in history.

Immigration: Betsabeé Romero

For NMWA’s New York Avenue Sculpture Project, Betsabeé Romero created four sculptures of carved and painted tires that speak to the theme of human migration. The particular experience of migration in Mexico directly informs Romero’s art, and her sculptures symbolize humankind’s profound connection to cultural traditions, as well as a yearning to keep families safe and thriving.

Chicago created Test Plate for Virginia Woolf (1978) as part of her development of The Dinner Party (1974–79), which functions as a symbolic history of women in civilization. The floral imagery is meant to symbolize the fruitfulness of Woolf’s talents as a writer; the curved petals may also be seen as pages of an open book.

2018-09-26_Betsabee-Romero-Traces and Scars

Betsabeé Romero, Huellas y cicatricez (Traces and scars), 2018; Photo by Mara Kurlandsky

Hammond_Meeting of Passion and Intellect

Harmony Hammond’s sculpture The Meeting of Passion and Intellect (1981) is partly a meditation on lesbian identity, but is fundamentally about the relationships between two entities—whether people or ideas—that merge but remain discrete.

sherald_amy-redbone_strawberry_shortcake

Amy Sherald, They call me Redbone but I’d rather be Strawberry Shortcake, 2009; Oil on canvas, 54 x 43 in.; NMWA, Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in honor of the artist and the 25th Anniversary of NMWA; © Amy Sherald; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Mwangi Hutter_For the Last Tree

Mwangi Hutter, For the Last Tree, 2012; Chromogenic print, 39 ¼ x 26 ⅜ in.; NMWA, Gift of Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, D.C.; © Mwangi Hutter

LGBTQ Rights: Harmony Hammond

Hammond has dedicated her career to ensuring queer feminist artists are not erased from the history books. Her book Lesbian Art in America: A Contemporary History (2000) remains the only text of its kind to date. Her own artwork, though abstract, reflects her personal experiences and political consciousness.

Racial Justice: Amy Sherald

Sherald modifies historical portrait formats to upend the dominant narrative of African American history. She notes, “I create playful yet sober portraits of black Americans within an imaginative history where I do black my way, in the European tradition of painted portraiture.” By painting her subjects’ skin in grayscale, she metaphorically removes their “color.”

Climate Change: Ingrid Mwangi (Mwangi Hutter)

Ecological concerns are a frequent theme in the work of artist duo Mwangi Hutter, who often consider the interconnection of humankind and nature. For the Last Tree (2012) expresses this interconnection by depicting Ingrid Mwangi kneeling in deference to a solitary tree on a desolate beach.

Illustrating a Historical Partnership: Abigail and John Adams

In 2014, author David Bruce Smith established The Grateful American Foundation to restore enthusiasm about American history for children—as well as adults—via videos and podcasts. The multimedia offerings have grown to include a book series, which includes the inaugural title Abigail & John, a look into the life and partnership of one of the country’s foundational couples. In the centennial year of women’s suffrage, the book shines a spotlight on the life and influence of Abigail Adams.

In an interview with NMWA, Smith discussed the genesis of the book and his creative partnership with his mother, renowned painter Clarice Smith, who created the book’s illustrations.

Why did you want to tell the story of Abigail and John Adams?

I wanted to write a series of books about presidential and historical couples whose marriages were partnerships. Many women have been diminished through the decades, despite their durable contributions to American history. Abigail Adams, recognized as one of the most educated First Ladies, was also her husband’s politically savvy partner; without her, John Adams would—probably—never have ascended to the White House.

In 1776, while John Adams was in Philadelphia helping to draft the Declaration of Independence, he received a letter from Abigail advising him “to remember the ladies.” Adams considered his wife’s words; it wasn’t the right time to act, but the fact that he reflected on—and respected—her request, proves their marriage was warm, loving, and equal.

A re-examination of Abigail’s life is timely. One hundred years ago, the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified, and women got the right to vote. No doubt, the country is now more enlightened—partially because of her.

Why did you choose to work in the children’s book genre?

Actually, I didn’t choose it—the genre “found” me. In 2009, I went to a history conference in Richmond and met the executive director of the John Marshall Foundation. I was offered a commission to write a children’s book about Marshall, with the intent of raising his profile among young people. I told them I had never written for a young audience, but they had read some of my books and were convinced I was qualified, despite my misgivings.

I agreed to the project only if my mother consented to be the illustrator. American Hero: John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States, was published in 2013, with my favorite collaborator.

Can you describe your collaborative process with your mother?

My mother and I have been working together for so many years that it’s no longer a “process.” While I am in the midst of the early drafts, she makes preliminary sketches of the cover and some of the events which have to be included in the story. As my drafts near the finishing point, she fills in with the remaining illustrations, knowing that a book designed for young children requires a picture to accompany almost every idea. When we’re finished, the art and the story pages are laid out to make sure all of the pieces are understandable, cohesive, at the proper grade level. Then, to the editor.

What do you hope young readers will take from this story?

The Adamses lived many stories, which intertwined: for example, Abigail raising the children alone on a farm, while John ascended in politics; their individual sacrifices to help create a democracy; surviving the death of their daughter, Susanna; Abigail, choosing to inoculate herself and the children with a smallpox vaccine that could have killed all of them; John and Abigail pushing and preparing their son, John Quincy, for an un-requested life in politics—and the presidency.

Usually, a children’s book biography is idealistic, with the following trajectory: subject is born; excels in school; succeeds in his/her career quickly; becomes famous; dies a hero. My mother and I wanted to construct Abigail & John differently, so that a young person would learn that everyone—famous or nothas difficulties in life. I think we succeeded, because we explained hardships with age-appropriate language.

Abigail & John is available for purchase in NMWA’s Museum Shop.

Want to learn more? Listen to an interview between Louise Mirrer, president & CEO of the New-York Historical Society, and David Bruce Smith.

Opening This Week: Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico

A black and white photo of two women's legs and feet standing in the grooves of an ancient tree. The photograph was taken at the popular pilgrimage site of Chalma in Mexico and evokes a religious experience.

Graciela Iturbide, Ascensión (Ascension), Chalma, 1984; Gelatin silver print, 12 ⅜ x 8 ¼ in.; Courtesy of the artist; © Graciela Iturbide

For the past 50 years, Graciela Iturbide (b. 1942, Mexico City) has produced majestic, powerful, and sometimes visceral images of her native Mexico. One of the most influential contemporary photographers of Latin America, Iturbide elevates ordinary observation into personal and lyrical art. Her signature black-and-white gelatin silver prints present nuanced insights into the communities she photographs, revealing her own journey to understand her homeland and the world.

Opening at NMWA on February 28, Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico is the artist’s most extensive U.S. exhibition in more than two decades. The monumental survey is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and comprises 140 poetic photographs bearing witness to the rich and complex culture of the artist’s homeland. Including images from 1969 through 2007, the exhibition encompasses compelling portrayals of indigenous and urban women, explorations of symbolism in nature and rituals, and haunting photographs of personal items left after the death of Frida Kahlo.

Exhibition Themes

The exhibition is organized into nine sections that illustrate Mexico as a rich tapestry of cultures, through daily rituals, social inequalities, and the coexistence of tradition and modernity. In Early Work, Iturbide’s attraction to unusual urban geometries and her eye for the unexpected is apparent. Three sections focus on her photographs of indigenous societies: Juchitán, home to the matriarchal society of the Zapotec people; the Seri, who live in a transitioning culture in the Sonoran Desert in northwestern Mexico; and La Mixteca, chronicling the Oaxacan herding community’s annual goat slaughter festival.

The Fiestas, Death, and Birds sections further demonstrate the artist’s deep awareness of cultural symbols. Beginning in the 1970s, Iturbide traveled throughout Mexico recording a variety of lavish fiestas, which incorporate elaborate costumes, ceremonies, and spectacles. Early in her career, following the tragic loss of her six-year-old daughter, Iturbide described her need to photograph the deaths of others as a way to come to terms with her own pain. Birds, too, became a vehicle for her spiritual and emotional journey.

In Mexico, cacti are incredibly important and used on a daily basis for food, alcohol, medicine, and as a national symbol. This photograph, taken from a low angle, shows several columnar cacti in the Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Gardens affixed with bundles of newspaper padding and wooden boards as splints, all bound to the plant with rope. This is a caretaking practice in the garden.

Graciela Iturbide, Jardín botaníco (Botanical Garden), Oaxaca, 1998–99; Gelatin silver print, 14 ⅝ x 14 ½ in.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum purchase with funds donated by John and Cynthia Reed, Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund, Barbara M. Marshall Fund, Lucy Dalbiac Luard Fund, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund for Photography, Francis Welch Fund, and Jane M. Rabb Fund for Film and Photography; © Graciela Iturbide; Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

In the Botanical Garden section, Iturbide’s photographs of Mexican flora and fauna are rendered with as much as sensitivity as her images of people. In 1998, Iturbide photographed the Ethnobotanical Garden of Oaxaca, which tells the story of the relationship between the people of Oaxaca and the region’s native plant life—the cactus, in particular. In Mexico, cacti are used on a daily basis for food, alcohol and medicine, as well as being a national symbol.

The final section, Frida’s Bathroom, refers to Iturbide’s 2005 commission to photograph Frida Kahlo’s belongings in the painter’s bathroom at Casa Azul, where Kahlo was born and died. Iturbide’s stark photographs provide an emotional narrative of the intimate space. Her images focus on objects that underscored Kahlo’s chronic illness and physical pain. Iturbide relates to Kahlo personally, as a fellow Mexican woman artist who has used her art to grapple with the hardships and tragedies of life.

Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico is on view through May 25, 2020.

Art Fix Friday: February 21, 2020

This famous photograph depicts Zobeida Díaz on her way to the market, carrying the iguanas she will sell on her head. Iturbide photographs Díaz from below to create a sense of authority; at this angle, Díaz becomes larger than life. Iturbide frames her in a dignified pose within an archway. The iguanas, an important cultural symbol of the Zapotec, encircle her head like a halo. It is an image of reverence for Zapotec women.

Graciela Iturbide, Nuestra Señora de las Iguanas (Our Lady of the Iguanas), Juchitán, 1979; Gelatin silver print, 10 x 8 in.; Collection of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser; © Graciela Iturbide; Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Artsy re-examines Graciela Iturbide’s iconic photograph Nuestra Señora de las Iguanas (Our Lady of the Iguanas) (1979). The author, Eva Recinos, a first generation Guatemalan American, discusses her personal ties to the work as well as its lasting impact on the representation of indigenous people in the history of photography. She writes, “[the photo] became a motivation for me—to keep mining my own personal history; to see the validity in my narratives, as both a writer and an art lover.”

Nuestra Señora de las Iguanas, along with 140 other photographs by Iturbide, will be on view in Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico at NMWA from February 28 to May 25.

Front-Page Femmes

Patrisse Cullors, artist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, talks to Frieze about her collective dance performance for Frieze Projects Los Angeles.

For the New York Times, Director Cathy Yan breaks down a key sequence from her film Birds of Prey.

Frieze reviews Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Director Céline Sciamma’s lesbian period drama that employs the myth of Orpheus to re-center the female gaze.

Artsy profiles Mariane Ibrahim, the young art dealer championing art from the African Diaspora.

T Magazine examines the tales of female trios in literature in pop culture; the magazine also commissioned original works by artists Chantal Joffe and Chioma Ebinama to accompany the essay.

NMWA’s current exhibition Delita Martin: Calling Down the Spirits was reviewed by and BmoreArt and Hyperallergic, which described the works as “courageous explorations about the power and vulnerability of our relationships with seen and unseen worlds.”

An abstract painting of two woman, one older, one younger, sitting across from one another in chairs. Their figures are overlaid with patterns and the background features two prominent orange circles. The major hues of the painting are different shades of blue.

Delita Martin, The Moon and the Little Bird, 2018; Acrylic, charcoal, gelatin printing, collagraph printing, relief printing, decorative papers, hand-stitching, and liquid gold leaf on paper, 79 x 102 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Myrtis; Photo by Joshua Asante

Artist Felicty Hammond’s open letter to the now-bankrupt Dutch art fair Unseen has ignited important conversations about the routine exploitation of artists.

Conceptual artist Barbara Kruger has installed politically charged banners, billboards, and stickers across Los Angeles for the city’s Frieze art fair.

Frieze profiles Ja’Tovia Gary and her inaugural show, flesh that needs to be loved, which features her compelling audio-visual portraits.

Hyperallergic interviews artist Pilar Castillo, who investigates the role of “tropical romanticism” in Caribbean identity and representation.

Afghan artist Robaba Mohammadi has opened an art center dedicated to training other disabled artists.

Shows We Want to See

The Soul (Un)Gendered: Anupam Sud, A Retrospective at New York City’s DAG Modern is the first retrospective of the 76-year-old Indian artist’s work in the U.S. The series features drawings, sketches, etchings, linocuts, and watercolors. Hyperallergic observes how the works “expand beyond the trappings of gender, sex, and societal norms—a detention not many women artists in India have dared to attempt to dismantle.” On view through March 7.

An etching of a topless woman who holds her arms out to the right and left as they hover over mask-like images of male faces. Behind the figure is the top half of the globe.

Anupam Sud, Rhapsody of Time, 1992–2008; Photo courtesy of the artist and DAG Modern

Jordan Casteel: Within Reach is now open at New York City’s New Museum. Featuring more than 40 large-scale oil paintings that portray the people from the communities in which Casteel lives and works—former classmates at Yale, street vendors and neighbors in Harlem, and her own students. In an interview with Artnet, Casteel talks about how she brings her own femininity to her paintings of men. On view through May 24.

—Alexa Kasner is the spring 2020 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: February 14, 2020

Artist Sonya Boyce will represent Britain at the 2021 Venice Biennale; she is the first black woman in the event’s history to do so. In an interview, the artist said that the fallout from Brexit would influence her work, as would the idea of nationhood.

A portrait of artist Sonya Boyce, who wears a colorful scarf, black knit hat, and black jacket; she smiles while looking into the distance.

Sonya Boyce; Photo by David Levene for The Guardian

Boyce came to prominence in the black British art scene in the early 1980s. In 1987, her work became the first by a black woman to enter the Tate’s collection. Boyce’s art combines photography, drawing, performance, and film; she works with a range of collaborators to explore her experience as a black woman in the art world.

Front-Page Femmes

Artsy profiles Howardena Pindell, who at the age of 76 is finally receiving acclaim.

An all-female team from the South African architectural firm Counterspace has been selected to design the 2020 Serpentine Pavilion; they are also the youngest architects ever to be commissioned for the project.

Emily Mason, abstract artist and teacher, has died at age 87.

Frieze publishes a conversation between Judy Chicago, Jane Fonda, and Hans Ulrich Obrist about art and environmental activism.

A black and white photo of Judy Chicago and Jane Fonda who pose with their arms around each other, smiling, in front of one of Chicago's paintings.

Judy Chicago and Jane Fonda at Jeffrey Deitch Gallery, Los Angeles, 2019; Photo by Sarah Thornton

The Royal Academy of Art has elected visual artist Rana Begum as a royal academician in the category of painting. Begum’s work was featured at NMWA in Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018.   

Colossal profiles artist Liz Sexton, who brings animals to human scale with her papier-mâché masks.

Juxtapoz reports on a new book of photographs by artist and curator Maude Arsenault, who represents women in the context of domesticity and intimacy.

Artland magazine’s “Female Iconoclasts” series features Leonora Carrington, Tamara de Lempicka, Hedda Stern, and Louise Bourgeois.

Creative Review profiles illustrator and book designer Jinhee Han.

Frieze reviews Jenny Offill’s new novel, Weather, which offers a sardonic take on contemporary environmental anxieties.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill approving the establishment of a Smithsonian Women’s History Museum. “Our country should know the names of its history-making women,” said D.C. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Shows We Want to See

A hyper-realist painting of a young African American girl, in a white summer dress, floating on her back in a pool with her arms in a dancer pose and her eyes closed.

Calida Rawles, painting from the exhibition A Dream for My Lilith

Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures is open at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. It is the museum’s first major exhibition of Lange’s work in 50 years, bringing together iconic works from the collection with less familiar photographs—from early street photography to projects on criminal justice reform. The New York Times calls it “revelatory.” On view through May 9, 2020.

Calida Rawles’s latest exhibition, A Dream for My Lilith, is open at Various Small Fires in Los Angeles. The show features whimsical and political hyperrealist paintings that show African American youth playing in swimming pools. On view through March 14, 2020.

Ana Benaroya’s solo show Teach Me Tonight opens on February 15 at Richard Heller Gallery in Santa Monica. Juxtapoz published an excerpt from Benaroya’s essay about her works: “In this show, lesbian desire is both explicit and hidden. Cue the music! It’s about listening to a woman singing a song and pretending she’s singing to another woman.” On view through March 28, 2020.

—Alexa Kasner is the spring 2020 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: February 7, 2020

Farah Al Qasimi, Woman in Leopard Print, 2019; Courtesy of the artist, Helena Anrather, and the Third Line

As part of her commission for New York City’s Public Art Fund, photographer Farah Al Qasimi showcases the beauty and jubilation of the city’s immigrant neighborhoods in Farah Al Qasimi: Back and Forth Disco.

Life-size renderings of her images adorn commercial light boxes on the sides of bus shelters in 100 locations across the five boroughs through May 17. The New Yorker observes that “Qasimi’s photographs arrive in New York as a gorgeous, if inadvertent, retort to the threat of increased restrictions on U.S. immigration.”

Front-Page Femmes

The New Yorker interviews illustrator Malika Favre about her latest cover for the magazine—a nod to the fact that no women directors were nominated at the 2020 Academy Awards—and her cinematic approach to illustration.

The New York Times profiles director Dee Rees, looking at how the Oscar-nominated director is “trying to create a new kind of Hollywood empire.”

The Guardian reviews Susanne Regina Meures’s new film Saudi Runaway, in which a young woman secretly documents her preparations for escape from an arranged marriage on her smartphone.

Two new reports published by the University of Southern California and U.C.L.A found that women and people of color featured more prominently in popular films in 2019 than in any other year measured.

Acclaimed sculptor Beverly Pepper, known for her majestic, abstract steel works, has died at age 97.

Del Pitt Feldman, the celebrated crochet designer whose clientele included Janis Joplin and Cher, has died at age 90.

Colossal interviews photographer Brooke DiDonato on her process and the inspiration behind her surreal imagery.

Photograph by Brooke DiDonato

Hyperallergic profiles Corita Kent, a nun-turned-artist, whose politically charged series “Heroes and Sheroes” features bold silkscreens of Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, and Cesar Chavez.

Artsy looks at Cindy Sherman’s breakout photo series “Untitled Film Stills” through a personal story of a life-changing encounter with art.

The New York Times reviews Zilia Sánchez: Soy Isla (I Am an Island), now on view at El Museo del Barrio in New York City.

Three female arts leaders came together at the Brooklyn Museum for a frank discussion about the state of museums in 2020.

Shows We Want to See

Amy Sherald, When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be (Self-imagined atlas), 2018; © Amy Sherald; Courtesy of the artist, Hauser & Wirth, and the Eileen Harris Norton Collection; Photo by Charles White

At the Grimm Gallery in New York City, Dana Lixenberg’s solo show, American Images, features a selection of portraits of American icons who have shaped today’s cultural landscape. Notable figures include Jenny Holzer, Tupac, Mary J. Blige, Kate Moss, Jay-Z, Toni Morrison, and others. On view through February 29, 2020.

Collective Constellation: Selections from the Eileen Harris Norton Collection will open on Saturday, February 8, at Art + Practice in Los Angeles. The exhibition features artworks by women of color—including Amy Sherald, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Lorna Simpson, Betye Saar, Carrie Mae Weems, Shirin Neshat, Doris Salcedo, and more—from the personal art collection of the philanthropist, art collector and Art + Practice co-founder. Frieze interviewed Norton about her pioneering life in art. On view through August 1, 2020.

—Alexa Kasner is the spring 2020 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: January 31, 2019

In 2019, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) in Brazil added 296 works by 21 female artists to its collection. This acquisition follows a yearlong effort to put women artists at the forefront of all museum exhibitions, publications, workshops, and events.

A neon sign against a pink wall that says "Are you Brazilian? Oh, I Love Brazilian Women"

Santarosa Barreto, Brazilv, 2018; Courtesy of Museu de Arte de São Paulo

Adriano Pedrosa, MASP’s artistic director, said that the acquisitions help the institution live up to its mission to become a more “diverse, inclusive, and plural museum.”

Front-Page Femmes

Artnet interviews Christine Sun Kim, the transgressive deaf artist who will sign the National Anthem alongside Demi Lovato at the 2020 Super Bowl.

The New Yorker revisits Toni Morrison’s debut novel, The Bluest Eye, on its 50th anniversary; the book “cut a new path through the American literary landscape by placing black girls at the center of the story.”

In “Harvest,” a seated woman holds three children, while two others gather at her bare feet. A small stack of nondescript books, a brown skull, a broken string of pearls, and a writhing snake line the steps, providing contrast between the natural and human-made elements.

Harmonia Rosales, The Harvest, 2018; © Harmonia Rosales

Juxtapoz interviews Dominique Fung, who uses her paintings to reconfigure art history through a non-Western and non-imperialist gaze.

At the 2020 Grammy Awards, Billie Eilish became the first woman, and second artist ever, to take home “The Big Four” awards (album, record, and song of the year; and best new artist) in one night.

Colossal profiles Christy Lee Rogers, whose photographs explore human movement in a weightless environment; Rogers’s most recent series was commissioned by Apple.

Zineb Sedira is expected to become the first artist of Algerian descent to represent France at the Venice Biennale in 2021. Sedira explores themes of identity, geography, and colonialism in her works.

Colossal profiles Harmonia Rosales, whose paintings focus on black female empowerment in Western culture.

Hyperallergic reviews the Getty’s podcast Recording Artists: Radical Women, noting the “common thread of struggle” for all six featured artists.

A collection of Virginia Woolf’s letters, manuscripts, photographs, postcards, and rare editions has been added to the holdings of the New York Public Library.

Artist and Holocaust survivor Ceija Stojka’s striking paintings revisit the trauma and horrors she experienced at Auschwitz.

The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas has acquired new works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Judy Chicago, and Beverly Semmes.

Author Roxane Gay has entered the world of graphic novels with The Sacrifice of Darkness, adapted from a short story in her 2017 collection Difficult Women.

Soma Han’s retrospective, East and West, will open at the Hilltop Gallery in Nogales, California, on February 2.

Shows We Want to See

Elizabeth Catlett’s Sharecropper, possibly her most famous work, was made in Mexico, where she moved in 1946 to work at the Taller de Gráfica Popular (People’s Graphic Arts Workshop). She was influenced by the spirit of activism at the workshop, which inspired her to produce images of the hardships endured by African American women, as well as the accomplishments of figures such as Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. Sharecropper, like many of her other works, shows Catlett’s activism on behalf of African American women in the South, who she believed maintained their dignity in the face of great adversity.

Elizabeth Catlett, Sharecropper, 1968; © Catlett Mora Family Trust / VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / The Art Institute of Chicago / Art Resource, NY

Elizabeth Catlett: Artist as Activist is on view at Baltimore’s Reginald F. Lewis Museum through March 1. The exhibition spans 60 years of the artist’s career and highlights her recurrent themes of valorized workers and industrious women. BmoreArt profiles the artist and show.

Kim Gordon, former bassist of Sonic Youth, has debuted a new exhibition, The Bonfire, at 303 Gallery in New York. Gordon presents a world of safety and familial intimacy surreptitiously undermined by insidious, unseen forces. Artnet interviews the artist about the new work, her foray back into visual arts, and the uneasiness of being a private person in the public eye. On view through February 22.

 

—Alexa Kasner is the spring 2020 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.