5 Fast Facts: Mildred Thompson

Impress your friends with five fast facts about artist Mildred Thompson (1936–2003), whose work is on view in NMWA’s collection galleries.

1. Citizen of the World

After graduating from Washington, D.C.’s Howard University in 1957, Thompson spent most of the 1960s and ’70s in Germany to escape the discrimination she faced in the United States, but she never forgot her roots. “I don’t really consider anyplace home…But when I’m asked where I’m from, I’m always from Jacksonville, [Florida].”

2. Taking Chances

In 1979, while living in Washington, D.C., Thompson met a French filmmaker and joined the crew as a photographer. They traveled to Paris, which remained her home base until she returned to the U.S. in 1985. She lived briefly in Los Angeles before settling in Atlanta for the rest of her life.

Mildred Thompson artist photo

Mildred Thompson; Photo courtesy of the Mildred Thompson Estate, Atlanta, GA

magnetic fields

Mildred Thompson, Magnetic Fields, 1990; Oil on canvas, 62 x 48 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of the Georgia Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Georgia Committee and the National Museum of Women in the Arts; © The Mildred Thompson Estate; Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York

wood picture

Mildred Thompson, Untitled (Wood Picture), ca. 1970s; Wood, 42 x 36 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Camille Ann Brewer in honor and memory of Mildred Thompson; © The Mildred Thompson Estate; Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

3. Hopelessly Devoted

In the middle of her career, Thompson decided to produce only abstract art—in paintings, sculptures, or prints—going forward. Her dedication to abstraction and her choice not to reference politics, violence, or the Black experience challenged expectations of African American artists at the time.

4. Color-centric

Thompson did not sketch or pre-plan her works. However, she did select palettes that would run throughout a series. As she once said, “Magnetic fields are yellow. Radiation is blue.

5. It’s About Time

In 2017, 14 years after the artist’s death, Galerie Lelong & Co. of New York announced their representation of Thompson’s estate. This marks her first formal relationship with a gallery.

—Ashley Harris is the associate educator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Modern Makers: Beverly Price

Photographer Beverly Price; Photo by Adriana Regalado

Photographer Beverly Price; Photo by Adriana Regalado

Interview with D.C.-based analog photographer and creative activist Beverly Price. Price hails from the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, where she documents the culture, resilience, and humanity of her community.

How did you get started?

In 2016 I was going to school for organizational leadership at Georgetown University. I saw the changes [gentrification] in my community and decided I wanted to document them as a D.C. native. After a month of shooting, I got a show at American University with some prominent D.C. artists. After that, I thought I might be on to something.

What do you like about analog photography?

It requires me to use my mind—it is not instant. Great bodies of work take time, skills, observation, and intuition, among many other things. When I see my prints in the darkroom, I just know that a phone could never do the work any justice.

What does community mean to you?

Community is culture. Growing up in Capitol Hill, I was part of a very diverse community. There were wealthy, poor, and middle-class people in my neighborhood—but we worked together and looked out for each other. When this new wave of development hit around 2004 to 2006, it was like a new system of society also arrived. We are losing community with these new buildings, with people constantly on their phones, not communicating. We need to pay attention to this now because it will affect us in the future.

How does your community influence the way that you work?

I was born and raised in D.C., so I can speak the unique language of my community—one that only someone who has been here from childhood through adulthood can understand. I’ve had countless offers to go overseas to document other cultures, but I realized I can’t document another culture until I first see what is happening in my own. That’s my relationship to my community, it’s a mirror to my inner language.

A Seat at the Table by Beverly Price

A Seat at the Table by Beverly Price

What artists do you find inspiring?

I love Gordon Parks. I did a report on him in the eighth grade and his work changed my life. I love Sally Mann, Vivian Maier, and Cindy Sherman. I also just got hip to photographer Francesca Woodman. Her work teaches me the spirituality behind photography.

What is the biggest challenge that you face when doing your work?

Finances. Photography is not a cheap medium but it is a necessary medium for me. I am a not a privileged artist, but I do this with no money because I love it. It’s also a challenge being a queer, black, woman photographer. In society, more men are able to tell their story. My work is 20 times better than half of the photographers I have seen—it tells a stronger story and is more emotionally connected. But being a woman, it won’t always get shown. It can be frustrating.

Art Fix Friday: May 10, 2019

Former NMWA Fresh Talk speaker Carolyn Cocca reviews a new comic series featuring Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which centers “a person who has overcome great odds to stand up for justice, equality, and hope.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gets the comic book treatment; Images (L to R): Joe Benitez; Joel Herrera; Joe Benitez

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gets the comic book treatment; Images (L to R): Joe Benitez; Joel Herrera; Joe Benitez

New Party, Who Dis? may have 23 co-creators who are mostly male, but Cocca praises the series as it “names and satirizes the kinds of oppressive dog whistles that undermine imagining marginalized peoples as superheroes and leaders.”

Front-Page Femmes

Norma Miller, the “Queen of Swing” who made the Lindy Hop a Jazz Age craze, has died at 99.

Artsy profiles Leonora Carrington and how she brought a feminist intensity to Surrealist painting.

City Lab looks at the influence of architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, the first Austrian women architect and designer of the pioneering Frankfurt Kitchen.

Hyperallergic takes a deep dive into parenting and labor in the art world, noting, “It is long past time for museum leadership…to publicly support better workplace policies for everyone.”

Illustration of Amy Sherald by Lauren Tamaki; Photo courtesy of The Cut

Illustration of Amy Sherald by Lauren Tamaki; Photo courtesy of The Cut

Philadelphia’s Gayborhood is getting a new mural by Amy Sherald; Sherald recently spoke to The Cut about life after painting Michelle Obama.

MOCA Los Angeles has named Mia Locks as senior curator and head of new initiatives and announced it will not hire a chief curator to replace Helen Molesworth, who was fired last year.

Curator and social media guru Kimberly Drew shares her Frieze New York schedule.

artnet reviews French artist Laure Prouvost’s “standout exhibition” at the Venice Biennale.

Deborah Dugan has been named  president of the Grammy Awards/Recording Academy—she is the first female leader in the organization’s 64-year history.

Hyperallergic interviews photographer Nydia Blas about the “Black feminine lens” that sets her apart.

Shows We Want to See

At the New-York Historical Society, Augusta Savage: Renaissance Womanhighlights over 50 sculptures, photos, and letters that detail Savage’s influence as an overlooked artist, activist and educator, a trailblazer of African American arts from the Great Depression to the postwar period.”

Augusta Savage viewing two of her sculptures, Susie Q and Truckin, 1939; Photo courtesy of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Augusta Savage viewing two of her sculptures, Susie Q and Truckin, 1939; Photo courtesy of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

At the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Maria Lassing: Ways of Being “features more than 200 loaned artworks, with key pieces including her last self-portrait, Selbstporträt mit Pinsel. In addition to her paintings and drawings, the survey is remarkable for presenting a large selection of her films and sculptures, including works that have never been shown before.”

Women Artists in Europe from the Monarchy to Modernism is on view at the Dallas Museum of Art until June 9. The exhibition highlights the DMA’s holdings of artwork by female artists working in Europe between the late 18th and early 20th centuries, including Elisabeth Vigée-LeBrun, Rosa Bonheur, and Käthe Kollwitz.

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

Images of Conflict: Ambreen Butt and Margaret Bourke-White

Conflict zones have historically been male-dominated spaces, for those participating in war and struggle as well as those documenting the events. Photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White and multimedia artist Ambreen Butt offer alternative perspectives to the field’s predominant male viewpoints. Though their work spans different mediums, times, and regions of the world, the two women are united by their incisive interpretations of conflict.

Margaret Bourke-White, Self Portrait with Camera, ca. 1933; Gelatin silver print; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of the collection of Susie Tompkins Buell

Margaret Bourke-White, Self Portrait with Camera, ca. 1933; Gelatin silver print, 13.625 x 9.5 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of the collection of Susie Tompkins Buell

Margaret Bourke-White (1904–1971) began her career photographing architecture and documenting the poverty of the Dust Bowl as Life magazine’s first female photojournalist. During World War II, she became the first female war correspondent after initially being denied accreditation to accompany U.S. forces overseas. From the frontlines, she produced matter-of-fact photographs that documented Europe’s war-torn cities and the liberation of concentration camp survivors, among other important events.

Bourke-White’s self-confidence and conviction—two qualities necessary for the work she was doing—are evident in her own Self-Portrait (1933). Standing next to her camera, she gazes confidently into the distance. Here she presents herself as the subject: a professional photojournalist. Her wide-legged stance and androgynous clothing convey her defiance at being treated like a “girl,” which she often was during missions. Bourke-White crafts a very specific persona for her audience: a fearless, strong woman whose eye does not flinch at war, death, and destruction.

Differing from Bourke-White’s unflinching photographs are the layered and lyrical depictions of conflict from artist Ambreen Butt (b. 1969). Her mixed-media works are rendered in the tradition of Persian and Indian miniature painting, with collaged shredded text and systemic mark-making that show her contemporary art influences. They explore the relationships between beauty, violence, strength, and vulnerability, as Butt methodically layers images and processes her difficult subject matter. In all of her images, heroines—both historical and contemporary—are redefined through the gaze of a female artist.

In the series “Dirty Pretty” (2008), Butt portrays female Pakistani lawyers protesting the government’s suspension of the country’s Chief Justice in 2007. Instead of looking on as passive bystanders, the women demonstrate alongside their male counterparts as intrepid activists. Butt communicates their sorrow and horror—yet, above all, it is their act of resistance that stands out. Their faces are hand-stitched in a prominent red thread over layers of historical imagery, which appear like apparitions in the background.

Ambreen Butt, The Great Hunt I (from the series “Dirty Pretty”) (detail), 2008; Water-based pigments, white gouache, text, thread, and gold leaf on layers of mylar and tea stained paper, 45 x 30 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Massachusetts State Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts; © Ambreen Butt; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Ambreen Butt, The Great Hunt I (from the series “Dirty Pretty”) (detail), 2008; Water-based pigments, white gouache, text, thread, and gold leaf on layers of mylar and tea stained paper, 45 x 30 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Massachusetts State Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts; © Ambreen Butt; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

“My protagonist is not an idealized character; she is a mirror in which a million women see their faces,” Butt has said. This universality is also seen in Bourke-White’s work—her photographs and writings offer her perspective as a woman in a male-dominated society and profession, helping other women to see themselves and their own potential. Butt’s works center around heroines, while Bourke-White becomes a heroine herself. Ultimately, in both of their works, women are portrayed as active witnesses—they claim agency, and they make their marks on society.

Ambreen Butt: Mark My Words was on view at NMWA from December 7, 2018–April 14, 2019.

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

Allons-y! Exploring Francophone Sculpture in NMWA’s Collection

On Saturday, April 6, NMWA held its first-ever Language Immersion Conversation Piece. Based on the same framework as daily 30-minute discussion-based experiences, visitors from the Young Women’s Francophone Meetup Group explored the collection galleries to learn more about Francophone women artists while practicing their French. Together, the group found common threads among three sculptures on view in the collection: Après la tempête (After the Storm) (ca. 1876) by Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923), Pregnant Nana (1993) by Niki de Saint Phalle (1930–2002), and Spider III (1995) by Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010). While these pieces differ greatly in style, they’re tied together by a common theme—the artists’ depiction of maternal love.

Sarah Bernhardt, Après la tempête (After the Storm), ca. 1876; White marble, 29 1/2 x 24 x 23 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Sarah Bernhardt, Après la tempête (After the Storm), ca. 1876; White marble, 29 1/2 x 24 x 23 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Viewing the first sculpture, Après la tempête, the group took a few moments to look closely at minute details. They noticed the contrast between the smooth skin of the young boy and the rough, wrinkled face of his grandmother, as well as the careful carving of the fishing net draped between the figures. Despite the somber tone of the piece, some visitors discussed the grandmother’s strength as she cradles her dying grandson. Others noted the possibility of a hopeful ending to the otherwise tragic scene, suggested by the power with which the young boy grasps his grandmother’s robes.

Following this solemn piece, visitors explored the uplifting themes in Saint Phalle’s Pregnant Nana. The group noted the vibrancy of this piece in comparison to the first—the bright patterns of color adorning the breasts, stomach, and buttocks of the figure drew their attention to these stereotypically feminine parts of her form. They also discussed the meaning of the title, and learned that nana is actually a slang term for “chick” or “broad” in French. The figure’s celebratory, carefree pose, combined with an informal title, speak to the joy of motherhood, rather than the pain that Bernhardt depicts in the first sculpture.

The last thematic piece immediately stood out from the others, and the group questioned what Bourgeois’s Spider III had to do with the concept of motherhood. Some mentioned Charlotte’s Web as a possible connection, and learned that Bourgeois associated spiders with her own mother due to their fierce protectiveness and ingenuity. The abstract portrayal of motherhood in this work urged the group to think outside the box when it comes to what maternal love can look like, and also provided the opportunity to learn a new word—tisserand—meaning “weaver” in French.

Louise Bourgeois, Spider III, 1995; Bronze, 19 x 33 x 33 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wilhelmina Cole Holladay; Art © The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; Photo by Emily Haight

Louise Bourgeois, Spider III, 1995; Bronze, 19 x 33 x 33 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wilhelmina Cole Holladay; Art © The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; Photo by Emily Haight

Discussing these sculptures in French prompted an engaging conversation about the significance and cultural context of the artwork. This Language Immersion Conversation Piece offered visitors the opportunity to practice speaking a second language, and also provided a platform for creating new dialogues between works by Francophone women artists.

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

Art Fix Friday: May 3, 2019

After the Polish Ministry of Culture demanded the removal of a work by artist Natalia LL—in which a topless woman eats a banana—1,000 people attended a banana-eating demonstration outside of the National Museum in Warsaw in protest.

Natalia LL, Consumer Art video stills, 1973; Photo credit: Carmen Jaspersen/picture alliance/Getty Image

Natalia LL, Consumer Art video stills, 1973; Photo credit: Carmen Jaspersen/picture alliance/Getty Image

The 1973 video, Consumer Art, created while the country was under communist rule, “is about the lack of supplies in a repressed country and the impossibility for people to consume the food that should be essential. It is an analogy of the impossibility for women to consume their own desire and have full access to their sexuality.”

Front-Page Femmes

The Guardian reflects on Australia’s Archibald prize for portraiture—in which only 15 paintings of women and three of non-white Australians have won in 97 years—and asks: could a portrait of a black woman win?

Hyperallergic features two poems by Cambodian American poet Monica Sok in its monthly series.

Mavis Pusey, the Jamaican-born artist who worked in geometric abstraction, died on April 20 at 90 years old.

A Message From the Future, the short film that animates the vision of the Green New Deal, was created by a female-led team, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, writer Naomi Klein, and artist Molly Crabapple.

On May 1, Japanese American sculptor Ruth Asawa was the subject of a Google Doodle created by Google staff artist Alyssa Winans.

The Ruth Asawa Google doodle by Alyssa Winans; Courtesy of Google

The Ruth Asawa Google doodle by Alyssa Winans; Courtesy of Google

Netflix has announced its first original African animated series, “Mama K’s Team 4,” which tells the story of four teenage girls living in a futuristic version of Lusaka, Zambia, who are recruited to save the world.

Miriam Katzeff has been named the new deputy director of Artists Space, the storied alternative art space and pillar of downtown New York.

The New York Times argues that music festivals need more Beyoncés—these events are still male-dominated, even though women are dominating music.

Hyperallergic reviews Diana Al-Hadid’s mosaics at New York City’s 34th Street Penn Station stop.

The Los Angeles Times profiles the new film Little and the five black women artists who have converged to make it a hit.

Shows We Want to See

Margot Gran, The Girls; Part of the Her Dress, Her Symbol: Antea Revisited exhibition; Photo courtesy of Agripas 12

Margot Gran, The Girls; Part of Her Dress, Her Symbol: Antea Revisited; Photo courtesy of Agripas 12

Joan Mitchell: I carry my landscapes around with me opens at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York today. The gallery’s first show of Mitchell’s work spans four decades, and is the first to focus on Mitchell’s multipaneled canvases.

In Jerusalem, Her Dress, Her Symbol: Antea Revisited examines the subject of the dress from a gender perspective—including both women and men—while recalling a unique phenomenon in the Israeli art scene, the work of the Antea Gallery for feminist art, which was active from 1994 to 2009. The exhibition is on view at two adjacent galleries, Agripas 12 and Marie Gallery.

Louise Nevelson: Wood Assemblages from the 1970s opens at New York’s Galerie Gmurzynska. The show features Nevelson’s monochromatic wood assemblages and rarely seen collages.


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

The Contour of an Artist: Ursula von Rydingsvard’s Beginnings

Ursula von Rydingsvard: The Contour of Feeling presents the artist’s monumental cedar wood sculptures alongside newer works for the first time. The poetic and expressive sculptures, which also use leather, linen, and other organic materials, reveal the process by which von Rydingsvard gives outward visual form to her innermost ideas and emotions.

***

Ursula von Rydingsvard was born in 1942 in Deensen, Germany, to a Polish mother and a Ukrainian father—peasant farmers who worked in forced labor under the Nazis during World War II. After the war, the family spent five years in eight different refugee camps before immigrating to the United States in 1950, where they settled in Connecticut. While von Rydingsvard resists autobiographical readings of her sculptures, their ambiguous subjects are often imbued with her life experiences.

In the 1970s, von Rydingsvard turned to art as a vehicle for expression. She attained a master’s degree in studio art from Columbia University and began working with cedar wood. Why cedar? One reason was that von Rydingsvard’s father was a woodcutter, so working with cedar felt like an extension of her ancestry and a connection to the past. Another was that as she came into her practice at the height of the Minimalist movement, von Rydingsvard disliked the genre’s machismo and detachment. The artist gravitated to cedar because she appreciated the wood’s softness, which enabled her to manipulate it into expressive forms.

Foreground: Ursula von Rydingsvard, Untitled (nine cones), 1976; Cedar, Nine elements, each approx. 42 in. high; © Ursula von Rydingsvard, Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.; Background: Ursula von Rydingsvard, Droga, 2009; Cedar and graphite, 4 ft. 6 in. x 9 ft. 7 in. x 18 ft. 3 in.; © Ursula von Rydingsvard, Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.; Photo by Alicia Gregory, NMWA

Foreground: Ursula von Rydingsvard, Untitled (nine cones), 1976; Cedar, Nine elements, each approx. 42 in. high; © Ursula von Rydingsvard, Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.; Background: Ursula von Rydingsvard, Droga, 2009; Cedar and graphite, 4 ft. 6 in. x 9 ft. 7 in. x 18 ft. 3 in.; © Ursula von Rydingsvard, Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.; Photo by Alicia Gregory, NMWA

Although she eschewed Minimalist characteristics, subtle influences are evident in at least one of her works. The nine wooden cones that comprise von Rydingsvard’s 1976 piece Untitled (nine cones), are arranged in a grid-like pattern and integrate “the industrial idealism” of Donald Judd into her own practice. Despite this influence, the artist’s sculptures are not polished or structured, but organic and distressed. Working in a male-dominated art world, von Rydingsvard created works that stood apart.

“I don’t care about precision. I just care about things that make you feel something,” the artist has said. What feelings does her work Ocean Floor (1996) evoke? The large-scale, bowl-shaped sculpture is reminiscent of the wooden bowls von Rydingsvard and her family ate from in refugee camps. Attached to the bowl are 50 pairs of dried and stuffed cow intestines, which, for many, evoke feelings of disgust and discomfort. Viewers, searching for meaning, may think about the hardships of people removed from their homes and living in the harsh conditions in refugee camps.

Ursula von Rydingsvard, Ocean Floor, 1996; Cedar, graphite, and cow intestines, 3 x 13 x 11 ft.; © Ursula von Rydingsvard, Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co

Ursula von Rydingsvard, Ocean Floor, 1996; Cedar, graphite, and cow intestines, 3 x 13 x 11 ft.; © Ursula von Rydingsvard, Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co

In her artistic manifesto, von Rydingsvard writes: “Why do I make Art? Mostly, to survive. To survive living and all of its implied layers. Because it’s a place to put my pain, my sadness. Because there’s a constant hope inside of me that this process will heal me, my family, and the world.” For Ursula von Rydingsvard, sculpture is personal—a way to heal and process her innermost feelings. But it is also a way to connect to the outside world, to engage people and to help them find meaning through her art.

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

#5WomenArtists: From a #Hashtag to a Movement

Last month, NMWA’s #5WomenArtists social media campaign launched for a fourth year of raising awareness about women artists. Pushing beyond the campaign’s signature question—“Can you name five woman artists?”—the 2019 campaign also challenged cultural organizations and individuals to take action to help right the art world’s gender imbalance. NMWA’s call to action listed ideas to inspire pledges: organizations might survey the ratio of women artists in their collections, acquire a new work by a woman artist, or establish a scholarship for women artists.

#5WomenArtists posts from Instagram

#5WomenArtists posts from Instagram

Inspiring Numbers

Our call this year was answered by over 750 cultural institutions and 8,000 individuals—responses came from across the U.S. as well as 37 other countries on six continents. We welcomed new participating organizations from Armenia, Colombia, Honduras, Liberia, Morocco, New Zealand, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates, among others. The campaign garnered 5,500 Instagram posts, 17,000 tweets, and countless inspiring pledges:

  • The Detroit Institute of Arts pledged to seek more opportunities to collaborate with local women artists on enriching programs and events.
  • The Seattle Art Museum pledged to feature an installation by a woman artist in its Olympic Sculpture Park.
  • The Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Malba) pledged to increase the representation of Latin American women in its collection until works by female artists account for at least 50% of acquisitions.
  • The National Portrait Gallery pledged to feature the stories of American women in its exhibitions, programs, and social media as part of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative.

Individual participants pledged to:

  • “Buy work from living female artists and continue to legitimize the female perspective in the art world.”
  • “Integrate women artists into my lessons and curriculum.”
  • “Expose my son to art created by women.”
  • “Create a space for young women in the arts to feel comfortable sharing their work.”
  • “Create more opportunities for women artists to show, sell, and talk about their work.”

Screenshots of various #5WomenArtists pledges and answers

The campaign also expanded the practice of social media “takeovers” this year. In addition to NMWA taking over Tate’s Instagram account on International Women’s Day to share selections from our collection, this year the @womeninthearts Instagram account was taken over by 22 other museums that highlighted #5WomenArtists from their collections or programs. Check out the @womeninthearts story highlights to watch!

Tate x NMWA Collaboration

Additionally, this year NMWA teamed up with Tate to expand the reach of #5WomenArtists. Tate has an ongoing commitment to increasing the representation of women across the arts sector and within its four galleries across the U.K. Tate’s own public pledge is a major one: to stage five major solo exhibitions featuring women artists in 2020 and 2021. The planned exhibitions will highlight artists Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Paula Rego, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Maria Bartuszová, and Haegue Yang.

Keep Connected

Explore #5WomenArtists highlights on our website and social media accounts (@womeninthearts). Continue to advocate on behalf of women artists and celebrate their accomplishments all year. Every month is Women’s History Month at the museum!

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

Art Fix Friday: April 26, 2019

Zanele Muholi portrait; Image © Zanele Muholi; Courtesy of the artist, Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, and Stevenson Cape Town/Johannesburg

Zanele Muholi portrait; Image © Zanele Muholi; Courtesy of the artist, Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, and Stevenson Cape Town/Johannesburg

The May issue of Out magazine delves into the power of art with a feature on visual activist Zanele Muholi, who came of age in South Africa’s apartheid era.

Muholi depicts the LGBTQI communities of South Africa, creating empowering images that seek to correct the distorted visual narrative around them. “I’m producing this work as a concerned citizen of this country,” Muholi says. “I want to change what is written about us, what we are fed and forced to consume because we are told that we need to become better persons.”

Front-Page Femmes

artnet rounds up five solo shows by women artists to take in during Berlin Gallery Weekend.

The Art Newspaper interviews Simone Leigh about her commitment to representing the experience of black women.

Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous have been named the designers of the forthcoming Shirley Chisholm monument in New York City.

Mary Gabriel’s book Ninth Street Women will become a series on Amazon—who might play the pioneering artists?

Sarah Lewis’s “Vision & Justice” course has grown into a full convening, which kicks off this week to explore “the role of the arts in identity and justice.”

Wonderland interviews illustrator Alice Skinner about her relatable images of female friendships, diverse bodies, and her underlying messaging.

Illustrator Alice Skinner’s Afterparty Scene; photo courtesy Wonderland Magazine

Illustrator Alice Skinner’s Afterparty Scene; photo courtesy Wonderland Magazine

In partnership with Artsy, CNN has published “A brief history of female rage in art,” profiling seven works that show the beauty and power of female rage.

Vogue profiles eight Indigenous beaders who are modernizing their craft.

The Guardian reviews Tate’s new all-female collection rehang, which they say “contains some great art, but is too shallow to shake things up.”

Hyperallergic looks at the record-breaking Hilma af Klint exhibition, which drew over 600,000 visitors.

Meet Rosalba Carriera, “the first woman artist millionaire you’ve never heard of.”

Forbes interviews Cheyenne Westphal, chairwoman of Phillips auction house in London, who “shares her secrets of conquering two decades of master sales.”

Shows We Want to See

At the Aspen Art Museum, Margaret Kilgallen: that’s where the beauty is examines the artist’s roots in printmaking, American and non-Western folk history and folklore, and feminist strategies of representation.

Margaret Kilgallen, Untitled, ca. 2000; Acrylic on canvas; Courtesy of the Estate of Margaret Kilgallen and Ratio 3, San Francisco

Margaret Kilgallen, Untitled, ca. 2000; Acrylic on canvas; Courtesy of the Estate of Margaret Kilgallen and Ratio 3, San Francisco

At the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, the first major U.S. solo exhibition of Chilean-born artist Cecilia Vicuña will open on Saturday. Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen traces the artist’s career-long commitment to exploring discarded and displaced materials, peoples, and landscapes.

At the Guggenheim Museum, Simone Leigh, Loophole of Retreat is on view—presented on the occasion of Leigh winning the 2018 Hugo Boss Prize. Leigh layers “form, sound, and text to fashion narratives of resilience and resistance.”

—Alicia Gregory is the assistant editor 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.