#5WomenArtists 2020: That’s a Wrap!

Last month, NMWA’s #5WomenArtists social media campaign launched for a fifth year of raising awareness about women artists. Once again, the campaign pushed beyond the signature question—“Can you name five women artists?”—and encouraged cultural organizations and individuals to name women artists who are working to change the world by addressing social issues.

Inspiring Numbers

This year, women artists who explore gender equity, immigration, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, and climate change were highlighted by more than 675 cultural institutions and 5,129 individuals. Participants came from 49 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, and 36 countries in total, including Australia, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Nigeria, Qatar, Spain, and South Africa, among others. The campaign garnered more than 4,092 Instagram posts and 9,568 tweets.

2020 Highlights

  • The Guggenheim reflected on an installation by Pia Camil (b. 1980), who worked with Latino communities in East Harlem and Queens to transform secondhand T-shirts into commentary on consumer culture, trade, and immigration.
  • The Fitzwilliam Museum shared work by Bridget Riley (b. 1931) who painted a bright, bold mural in the trauma unit corridor at London’s St. Mary’s hospital—lifting the spirits of patients, doctors, and visitors.
  • The Whitney Museum celebrated Emma Amos (b. 1938), who addresses racism, sexism, and ethnocentrism in her groundbreaking paintings and prints.
  • Harvard Art Museums highlighted Ambreen Butt (b. 1969), whose “Daughters of the East” series explores the role of female students who protested the 2007 military siege of the Red Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Explore more highlights on Twitter!

Long-Term Impact

We surveyed returning participants about how their institutions have changed as a result of participating in the campaign. Here’s what they had to say:

  • “All exhibitions at the Jewish Museum this season feature women artists or art dealers!”—Jewish Museum, New York
  • “We’ve made a more concentrated effort to shine light on women artists in our collections.”—Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan
  • “We completed a survey of our collection to determine the ratio of number of works by male artists vs. female artists.”—Springfield Art Museum, Missouri

Looking Forward

Since 2016, #5WomenArtists has become an integral part of NMWA’s mission to champion women artists. Because of that, we’ve decided to make the campaign a year-round effort! We’ll continue Instagram takeovers with other cultural institutions and encourage you to keep the momentum. Don’t forget to use #5WomenArtists and tag @womeninthearts!

From the Curator: Inside “Delita Martin: Calling Down the Spirits”

I first encountered the work of Delita Martin (b. 1972) in 2017 at the University of Maryland’s David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora. Her large-scale work Night Travelers (2016) was part of the exhibition Shifting: African American Women Artists and the Power of Their Gaze (March 2–May 26, 2017).

Delita Martin, Night Travelers, 2016; Gelatin printing, conté, collage, fabric, hand-stitching, and decorative paper, 72 x 149 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Myrtis; Photo by Joshua Asante

It was not only the size of the work that grabbed my attention, but the striking gaze of the woman in white, who looks directly out at the viewer. As I got closer to the work, I was enthralled by the detail: beautiful paper pieces hand-stitched directly onto the support paper, intricate layering of printed pattern and drawn elements, and the synergy of each element.

As a curator, I have the privilege of looking at a lot of art. When a work jumps out at me like Delita’s did, I often have trouble describing why I like it so much. I have come to understand this reaction as a marker of a great work. It also makes me want to share it with as many people as possible.

In early 2019, our curatorial team met to discuss possible exhibitions in NMWA’s Teresa Lozano Long Gallery. The gallery, though prominently sited near the main entrance and Great Hall, is a cozy space at just 27 x 15 feet—and Delita’s large works are not an obvious choice for such a space. However, I thought that featuring these powerful works in an intimate space would lead to a compelling, immersive experience.

Delita Martin gave an intimate gallery talk in NMWA’s Long Gallery in winter 2020

In deciding which works to include in NMWA’s exhibition, I visited Myrtis Bedolla of Galerie Myrtis in Baltimore, Maryland, who represents Delita. Little did I know what a treat I was in for—not only because I got to see Delita’s new work, but also because Myrtis herself is a gem. In addition to lending works from her gallery, Myrtis connected me with local collectors of Delita’s works; it turns out that she has a large and dedicated fan base in the D.C./Baltimore region!

I wanted to share Delita’s work with our visitors to highlight this important artist and her work. The texture, saturated colors, and meticulous skill of her works are best seen in person. While this opportunity has been curtailed by the museum’s temporary closure, we have created an online exhibition, including audio commentary from Delita, so you can still experience the works. You can also read the exhibition brochure and an interview with the artist in the Winter/Spring issue of Women in the Arts magazine.

—Ginny Treanor is the associate curator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: April 24, 2020

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Jenny Holzer unveiled a new project that simultaneously addressees the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. The artist’s gallery, Hauser & Wirth, sold 100 limited-edition prints of one of Holzer’s famous truisms, “ALL THINGS ARE DELICATELY INTERCONNECTED.”

Jenny Holzer, delicately interconnected, 2020; © Jenny Holzer, Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Proceeds will go to the conservation group Art for Acres and the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Holzer said, “Artists are good at reflecting what’s around, and this is a time for reflection and reflecting if there ever was one.”

Front-Page Femmes

Judy Chicago, Jane Fonda, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Swoon have launched Create Art For Earth, a new project bolstered by NMWA and the Serpentine Galleries, a global effort to “flood the world with…images of healing, caring, repairing…to create a just and equitable world.”

Artnet publishes seven practical tips for engaging art lovers through social media, highlighting NMWA’s own #MuseumFromHome efforts.

The Observer profiles Mona Chalabi, whose data-driven illustrations are keeping people informed during COVID-19.

The Guardian reviews Fiona Apple’s “strange and exceptional” new album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters.

Ahead of Mother’s Day, Artnet rounds up depictions of mothers and children throughout art history, including works by Alice Neel, Elisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun, Amy Sherald, Carrie Mae Weems, and Mary Cassatt.

The New York Times profiles 10 women in jazz, including Valaida Snow, Lil Hardin Armstrong and Una Mae Carlisle, who never got their due.

Valaida Snow, Lil Hardin Armstrong, and Una Mae Carlisle were three jazz instrumentalists who made a big impression in their day; Credit (left to right): Popperfoto/Getty Images; Gilles Petard/Redferns, via Getty Images; Afro Newspaper/Gado, via Getty Images

The New Yorker explores the “otherworldly women” in playwright Kathleen Collins’s works: “black women of a creative or intellectual bent…whose quotidian struggles with marriage, motherhood, and work take on cosmic proportions.”

Artnet interviews Miranda July, whose new film Kajillionaire will be released in June, about the creative obstacles and opportunities of quarantine.

Artforum interviews Petra Cortright on self-isolation, Zoom and FaceTime, and her early webcam works.

NPR profiles Katharina Fritsch, providing a virtual visit to her solo show at the Matthew Marks Gallery.

For the New Yorker, writer Rachel Cohen muses on what we miss without museums—and includes a nod to Berthe Morisot’s Woman in a Garden (1882–83).

The New York Times interviews writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about what she reads while she works.

Shows We Want to See—Online Edition

Artnet provides a virtual look at Mira Lehr: High Water Mark, which was on view at the Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando, Florida. As an eco-feminist artist from Miami whose career spans five decades, Lehr’s nature-based imagery encompasses painting, design, sculpture, and video installations.

Mira Lehr, Creation, 2017; Courtesy of the artist

At the Gladstone Gallery, Guo Fengyi is now viewable online. The show focuses on a selection of the artist’s hyperdetailed and conceptually complex, large-scale scrolls. Created by employing a meditation system associated with tai chi, these works present an in-depth survey of the artist’s practice, which began during the latter portion of her life. Concurrent to this exhibition, The Drawing Center hosts Guo Fengyi: To See from a Distance.

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

NMWA @ Home: Creative Coping with Carolyn Higgins and Fiona McNally

As NMWA remains temporarily closed due to COVID-19, along with other museums and cultural institutions around the world, we’ve been diligently working to bring the museum to you at home. In this series, we’ll check in with NMWA staff in their own homes for a personal look at the creative ways they’re staying connected, inspired, and grounded.

Do you have recommendations? Let us know in the comments below or share on social media @WomenInTheArts!

Carolyn Higgins, senior membership manager

Reading: Along with Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, I’m reading several historical biographies, from Rodin to Queen Victoria. And I now have time to enjoy all the magazines I subscribe to: Bon Appétit, Martha Stewart Living, and National Geographic!

Creating: I love adult paint-by-numbers. They take time, but are very calming.

Carolyn Higgins channels the floral still-lifes of Rachel Ruysch and Clara Peeters in her paint-by-numbers piece

Cooking: My mother and sister taught me to cook, and since we can’t be together physically, we’ve been calling to talk about what we’re making. It’s so therapeutic. I’m experimenting with new recipes, including bread and sweets, to share when friends “social distance visit” through the window.

Listening: I’ve been dancing around my apartment to Lady Gaga and Beyoncé—they’re like coworkers now. I also do calming guided mediations with jellyfish via Monterey Bay Aquarium’s YouTube channel.

Inspiration: I’m using this time to check in with longtime museum Charter Members. These calls are so uplifting. NMWA @ Home has also been helpful. I look forward to “Art Fix Friday” to see what women in the arts are doing around the world. And I love examining floral works in the museum’s online collection, from Alma Thomas to Amy Lamb. There are so many amazing details in Rachel Ruysch’s paintings. Try to count the bugs!

Maintaining Perspective: My 92-year-old grandmother and I speak regularly. She has survived so much in her long life. While she says this is the craziest thing she’s experienced, she remains in great spirits and reassures me that we will get through this even stronger.

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Fiona McNally, development officer, events and partnerships

Reading and Watching: A friend started a virtual “Quarantine Book Club.” We’re reading Elizabeth Wetmore’s first novel Valentine. I’m finishing Sally Rooney’s Normal People and eagerly anticipate its upcoming TV adaptation. I’m also enjoying Hulu’s mini-series based on Celeste Ng’s wonderful book Little Fires Everywhere. Otherwise, I limit my TV viewing to comedies like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Schitt’s Creek.

Making: Cooking is my escape. I’m following recipes from Alison Roman and another favorite home-chef, Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman.

Fiona Murray’s “Lemony Tumeric Tea Cake”; Recipe by Alison Roman

Supporting: It’s inspiring to see museums, performing arts organizations, and nonprofit institutions creatively engage with supporters digitally, even as they’ve had to cancel exhibitions, conferences, or entire performance seasons. I’ve been able to donate to D.C.’s Arena Stage and Kennedy Center, West Virginia’s Contemporary American Theater Festival, and Rhode Island’s Highlander Institute, and hopefully those who are able will consider extending contributions to the organizations they care about.

Maintaining Perspective: I’m reaching out to loved ones across the country. Some have had to postpone weddings, change birth plans, or quarantine solo. I can’t wait to see people again—not just loved ones, but strangers on the bus, fellow movie theater-goers, and everyone at D.C.’s music venues. There’s much to look forward to when this ends.

Graciela Iturbide and La Matanza: Ritual as Practice and Subject

One of the most influential contemporary photographers of Latin America, Graciela Iturbide has produced majestic and powerful images of her native Mexico for the past 50 years. Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico is the artist’s most extensive U.S. exhibition in more than two decades, comprising 140 black-and-white prints that reveal the artist’s own journey to understand her homeland and the world.

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Photography and its ritualistic qualities—observation, development, and selection—is a form of therapy for Graciela Iturbide. More than simply documenting moments in time, the practice offers her a way to process and understand the world. As Iturbide trained her lens on the people, cultures, and rhythms of life in Mexico, she developed an interest in capturing the rituals of others. From cultural celebrations to religious ceremonies, Iturbide’s photographs present poetic and unflinching looks at the customs people enact in search of order, comfort, and meaning.

A black and white photo of a woman gripping a knife between her teeth while her hands wrangle the legs of a goat, out of frame. Her blouse and apron are dirty/bloodstained and her hands covered in blood.

Graciela Iturbide, Carmen, La Mixteca, 1992; Gelatin silver print, 17 ½ x 12 in.; Courtesy of the artist; © Graciela Iturbide

La Matanza/The Slaughter

Iturbide’s documentation of the annual festival and goat slaughter in La Mixteca, Oaxaca, is a potent example of a cultural practice with many layers of ritual. The more than 200-year-old slaughter, which lasts for 20 days each October and kills tens of thousands of goats, was brought to the region during the Spanish conquest. La Mixteca is one of the poorest regions of Oaxaca and its people endure harsh working conditions and treatment. The slaughter represents a break from daily hardship and is significant for the Mixtec economy, as the goat meat is sold in local, national, and international markets.

Iturbide immersed herself with the Mixtec people to document the nuances of the slaughter: the human and animal sides; the violence and repentance. In La felicidad, la matanza (Happiness, the Slaughter) (1992), a young girl sits and smiles on a mat next to a dead goat, her hands kneading its back. In Carmen (1992), a woman wrangles a goat, whose legs are visible in the photograph. The expressive grip of her teeth on her well-worn knife expresses the extraordinary and painstaking physical effort of the slaughter. And each year, in a ritual of atonement for the thousands of slaughtered goats, one goat is saved. Its head is adorned with a flower crown, as shown in Iturbide’s photo La danza de la cabrita, antes de la matanza (The Little Goat’s Dance, Before the Slaughter) (1992), and the Mixtec dance around it in celebration.

Iturbide’s own photographic ritual was adapted for this project. She described using her camera as a shield from the violence. She said, “I had to enter a guiding trance to see quickly, to photograph quickly, to not interrupt their work…the trance helped me forget the pain of the goats and the pain of the Indians.” Iturbide’s stay with the Mixtec would be the last time she ever immersed herself in an indigenous community—the experience deeply affected her. However violent this ritual, though, Iturbide recognizes its profound importance for the Mixtec. She has said that rituals are “the only way we forget every day.”

*Unless otherwise noted, information is adapted from Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico: Photographs, by Kristen Gresh, with an essay by Guillermo Sheridan.

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

Art Fix Friday: April 17, 2020

Artnet reports on the famed quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, who are making face masks for every citizen in their small town.

Mary Margaret Pettway, the board chair of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, making masks; Photo: Kyle Pettway

“Because this is an elderly community, we’re trying to keep them safe,” says Mary Margaret Pettway, a leader of the initiative and chair of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, which promotes and preserves the work of artists in the American South. The foundation is paying the artists to create the masks, distributing materials, and delivering the finished products.

Front-Page Femmes

Washington D.C.’s City Paper profiles muralist CHELOVE, who, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, recently completed a seven-story ode to women of color on the façade of a hotel scheduled to open this summer.

Yayoi Kusama shares a poem of hope and defiance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: “In the midst of this historic menace, a brief burst of light points to the future…”

The New Yorker discusses how to co-work in small spaces, turning to the strategies of artists including Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Judy Chicago, and more.

Turkey has selected 83-year-old Füsun Onur to represent the country at the 2021 Venice Biennale.

The National profiles 83-year-old Palestinian painter Samia Halaby, who discusses her pioneering digital works, which she started making in the 1980s.

Samia Halaby in her New York City studio; Photo credit: Ayyam Gallery

Artnet reports on director Halina Dyrschka’s new Hilma af Klint documentary, released today in virtual screening rooms.

Slate’s Working podcast interviews painter, writer, illustrator, and dancer Maira Kalman on her creative evolution.

The 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship winners have been announced; Recipients include photographer Zoe Leonard, filmmaker Stephanie Wang-Breal, poets Ada Limón and Aimee Nezhukumatathil, choreographer Gabrielle Lamb, artist Helen Mirra, and more.

Vulture reviews Mrs. America, the limited series that tells the story of the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment—and the unexpected backlash.

Painter Mamie Tinkler talks to Artforum about the strange interiors of domestic life, jokes about femininity, and more.

Shows We Want to See—Online Edition

At CONNERSMITH, ACCESS | Maria Friberg: essential is viewable online. Friberg’s work “builds on the theme of Man’s ruthless exploitation of Planet Earth and can be interpreted as a criticism on superabundance. But it is also a picture that proposes the notion that Mankind has the possibility to create something beautiful from chaos,” writes curator Michelle Marie Roy.

Hope Gangloff, Future Skies Over Bozeman, Montana Reprise, 2019; Photo credit: the artist and Timothy Taylor Gallery

At the Timothy Taylor Gallery, the new online exhibition Dwelling is the Light is on view. Curated by Katy Hessel, the show is inspired by the effects of the current global lockdown on our attitudes toward nature versus domestic living. Hessel writes, “Women—who for many centuries were simultaneously at home within but also confined to domestic spaces—retain a unique perspective on the interplay between interiors and the unbridled freedom of the natural world.”

Also at the Timothy Taylor Gallery, Josephine Meckseper: Pellea[s] is viewable online. The 42-minute film examines the performance of gender both in cultural production and in contemporary political terms. Set in Washington D.C., it includes footage of the 45th American Presidential Inauguration and concurrent protests filmed by the artist.

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

5 Fast Facts: Ruth Orkin

Ruth Orkin (1921–1985), an award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker, discovered her passion for photography as a young girl when thumbing through family scrapbooks filled with snapshots of Old Hollywood (her mother was a silent film actress). At 10 years old, Orkin received her first camera, a modest 39-cent device that helped develop her extraordinary career. NMWA’s collection includes 74 images by Orkin, which is a representative sampling of her 40-year body of work.

Ruth Orkin, Celebrity (Ava Gardner at Hollywood party), 1950s; Vintage gelatin silver print, 7 x 7 1/4 in.; NMWA, Gift from the collection of Charles S. and Elynne B. Zucker

Known for capturing the individual and collective human spirit, Orkin was particularly adept at picturing remarkable women at remarkable moments. Here are the stories behind a few she immortalized on film:

1. Herself
In 1939, at age 17, Orkin took a solo cross-county bike trip…without modern conveniences like a mobile phone or GPS. She traveled from Los Angeles to the World’s Fair in New York City, hitchhiking, hosteling, sightseeing, and capturing more than 300 photographs along the way. Her bicycle and shadow became self-portrait surrogates.

2. Marian Anderson (1897–1993)
Orkin precariously stood on a plank of wood balanced on two sawhorses to photograph the renowned singer rehearsing with conductor Leonard Bernstein at Lewisohn Stadium in New York City in 1947. This intimate image was snapped eight years after Anderson’s famous Lincoln Memorial concert for a desegregated audience (1939) and eight years before she became the first black singer to perform at the Metropolitan Opera (1955).

3. Ethel Waters (1896–1977), Carson McCullers (1917–1967), and Julie Harris (1925–2013)
Orkin photographed this talented triumvirate on opening night of the Broadway production of Carson McCullers’s The Member of the Wedding (1950). The play starred Waters, a veteran performer, and Harris, a rising star. Waters is known for recordings like “Stormy Weather” (1933) and for being the first African American to star in a television show and receive a Primetime Emmy nomination. Harris went on to become a highly awarded performer—she was an Oscar short of an EGOT.

Ruth Orkin, Ethel Waters, Carson McCullers, Julie Harris, opening night, “The Member of the Wedding,” NYC, 1950; Gelatin silver print; NMWA; © Ruth Orkin; Photo courtesy of the Ruth Orkin Photo Archive

4. Ninalee Craig (1927–2018)
Craig, the subject of one of Orkin’s most famous series, “American Girl in Italy” (1951), befriended the photographer in Italy during a solo trip to Europe. Together they staged photographs addressing challenges and surprises that women faced when traveling alone. Cosmopolitan published Orkin’s images in the article “Don’t Be Afraid to Travel Alone.”

5. Kathrine Switzer (b. 1947)
Orkin photographed Kathrine Switzer the day she became the female winner of the 1974 New York City Marathon. Before this victory, Switzer broke gender barriers in the running world. In 1967, was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon, only possible because her registration name, K.V. Switzer, didn’t reveal her gender. Women were banned from running the Boston race until 1972, the same year their results were officially recognized in the New York City Marathon.

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

NMWA @ Home: Creative Coping with Melani N. Douglass and Orin Zahra

As NMWA remains temporarily closed due to COVID-19, along with other museums and cultural institutions around the world, we’ve been diligently working to bring the museum to you at home. In this series, we’ll check in with NMWA staff in their own homes for a personal look at the creative ways they’re staying connected, inspired, and grounded.

Do you have extra suggestions or recommendations for us? Let us know in the comments below or share on social media @WomenInTheArts!

Melani N. Douglass, director of public programs

Reading: I find comfort in books. I’ll have a recipe, poetry, research book, and a magazine going at the same time, plus a book that I read with my daughter. I also have books that are always in rotation—my staples.

Melani N. Douglass’s quarantine reading collection; Photo by Melani N. Douglass

The staples: These are always on the shelf, ready to add to any mental meal. Anything by J. California Cooper, Octavia Butler, Queen Afua, Twyla Tharp; Aperture magazine’s Vision & Justice issue, edited by Sarah Lewis; Eat Yourself Sexy by Lauren Von Der Pool; Rituals & Celebrations by B. Smith; You Should Have Been Here Yesterday by Elaine Eff

On the stove: What am I cooking with right now? High on the Hog by Jessica B. Harris; A Bound Woman is a Dangerous Thing by DaMaris B. Hill; Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

On the menu: What am I looking forward to? MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora; Ageless Vegan by Tracye and Mary McQuirter; Religion in the Kitchen by Elizabeth Pérez; Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs by Psyche A. Williams-Forson.

Exploring: I am in love with Colette Fu’s pop-up art books. The world’s current situation feels like a series of pop-up books with all kinds of characters, events, and dynamics unfolding in real time. Social media allows each person’s life, thoughts, and experiences to pop open, providing commentary and revealing much about the human condition. I especially enjoy Fu’s works Ashima, Stone Mountain and Dai Food from the series “We are Tiger Dragon People,” 2008–14.

Centering: Our mornings begin with Ama Chandra’s sound bath meditation on Facebook Live. Twice a week we take free Instagram Live dance classes with @therealDebbieAllen. After my little one is asleep, I join @ErykahBadu’s Quarantine Concert Series.

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Orin Zahra, assistant curator

Reading: The exhibition catalogue for Indian Ocean Current: Six Artistic Narratives, a show at the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College that I was hoping to catch this spring. The exhibition showcases six contemporary artists with deep ties to the lands surrounding the Indian Ocean. These days, questions about relationships between humans, our territorial borders, and the planet seem all the more potent.

Exploring: I’ve enjoyed exploring online exhibitions and taking tours of landmarks and monuments abroad through Google Arts and Culture. In a time where physical travel has become impossible, virtually walking through Agra to see the Taj Mahal or the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles is a welcome escape.

Touring landmarks and monuments in NMWA’s collection is possible, too, with Candida Höfer’s The Palazzo Zenobio Venezia III, 2003; Chromogenic color print, 60 7/8 x 60 7/8 in.; NMWA, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection; © 2003 Candida Höfer/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Making: My family and I have been cooking up a storm, trying new recipes, getting creative with what’s on hand, and enjoying our meal times together.

Remembering: I have been reorganizing old photographs, which makes for many fun trips down memory lane—and laughing at the hairstyles of bygone days.

Art Fix Friday: April 10, 2020

Hyperallergic reports on the efforts to decorate hospital ICUs with encouraging posters. Led by artist Elizabeth Jaeger and Cady Chaplin, a nurse at Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital, the campaign invites artists to submit their uplifting works via Google drive. So far, more than 70 artists have participated.

A poster by Harriet Salmon pays tribute to healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic; Photo credit: the artist and Elizabeth Jaeger

The illustrations, paintings, and digital edits are installed in hospital breakrooms by Chaplin, who has been able to print large adhesive copies with the help of Wallpaper Projects, a Brooklyn design studio volunteering their services. Jaeger said, “I know for Cady it’s a welcomed distraction for the overwhelming fear that accompanies her job right now.”

Front-Page Femmes

Artist and writer Helène Aylon has died at age 89 from COVID-19; Aylon’s work focused on the intersection of feminism, Judaism, pacifism, and environmental justice.

The New Yorker interviews writer Fran Lebowitz on growing old, life in quarantine, and the sadness of seeing her city shut down.

Marlo Pascual has died at age 48 from cancer; she used found images and objects in “playful and menacing theatrical displays that mix photography and sculpture.”

Vanity Fair profiles writer, director, and producer Issa Rae ahead of the upcoming season of her HBO hit show Insecure.

Artnet reports on the miniature clay dream homes made by artists, architects, and designers in response to Eny Lee Parker’s Clay Play contest.

The Los Angeles Times profiles five artists who are working under quarantine, including Tanya Aguiñiga, Monica Majoli, and Sandy Rodriguez.

With access to her studio restricted, Tanya Aguiniga, a fiber artist who is originally from Tijuana, has been working out of a Volkswagen camper parked in her East L.A. yard—while homeschooling her daughter, Io; Photo by Jay L. Clendenin for the Los Angeles Time

The Washington Post features­ Lee Krasner and her painting Celebration (1960) in its series “Great Works, In Focus.”

Laura Raicovich has been named interim director of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, which is devoted to queer art, in New York City.

The Art Newspaper interviews Zoe Whitley, the new director of London’s Chisenhale Gallery.

Hyperallergic profiles Viola Frey, rounding up a collection of interviews, archival materials, and video on the artist.

Slate interviews author Veronica Roth on feedback, antagonists, and moving away from YA fiction.

Colossal explores Frances Priest’s meticulous ceramics; the artist also created a free coloring book for download.

Shows We Want To See—Online Edition

Zoya Cherkassky’s exhibition Lost Time is on view at the Fort Gansevoort gallery’s website. The artist, in quarantine at her home in Tel Aviv, has created a new series of melancholic paintings on paper that evoke pre-World War II Jewish life—but feel “simultaneously contemporary.” The New York Times published excerpts of a conversation between Cherkassky and the show’s curator, Alison Gingeras.

Zoya Cherkassky’s An Open Air Minyan (2020) depicts men gathered for prayer with the requisite social distancing; Photo credit: Zoya Cherkassky and Fort Gansevoort

Shirin Neshat’s latest exhibition, Land of Dreams, is on view at the Goodman Gallery London website. The exhibition comprises photographic portraits and two video installations that converge to present a portrait of contemporary America under the Trump administration.

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

Director’s Desk: Fresh Talks Bridge Art & Science

All of us at the National Museum of Women in the Arts hope you are safe and well. This week I want to share inspiring talks by the talented, passionate speakers from our Fresh Talk series, the signature program of our Women, Arts, and Social Change public programs initiative. These dynamic conversations provide a platform for women to share creative ideas and solutions that address today’s social issues. Over the past five seasons, we have brought prominent women in the arts together with individuals in other fields for 25 creative conversations on gender, equity, art, the environment, identity, social and economic opportunity, and more. All Fresh Talks are recorded so that you can enjoy them at your leisure.

A blonde woman stands at the podium in NMWA's performance hall, speaking in front of a packed audience. On the pull-down screen to her left, a slide with the word "MUTUALISM" in all caps in displayed.

Fresh Talk speaker Natalie Jerejimenko speaks about the mutualistic relationship between humans and the natural world.

At this moment, I’m reflecting on talks that explore the intersection of art, science, and the environment. In March 2016, Natalie Jeremijenko, an artist, engineer, and program director of the Environmental Health Clinic at New York University, helped us consider the question, “Can an artist use science and technology to heal the environment?” Jeremijenko bridges art and science by “prescribing” creative health solutions for the environment, working to redesign our relationship to Earth’s natural systems.

In May 2017, we convened a group of women representing environmental and arts-based organizations to answer the question, “How can the arts inspire environmental advocacy?” Jacqui Patterson, director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, emphasized the power of photography and video in telling the stories of vulnerable communities living in the shadows of oil refineries, drinking contaminated water, and navigating food deserts. Miranda Massie, director of the Climate Museum, discussed how museums can use the power of art to evoke emotions, engage new audiences, and reframe the conversation about climate change to focus on hope.

Most recently, in September 2019, we hosted iconic feminist artist Judy Chicago and renowned philosopher and professor Martha C. Nussbaum on the occasion of Chicago’s newest exhibition, The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction. In a wide-ranging conversation, they discussed the emotional intensity of Chicago’s artistic contemplation of her own death—and the deaths of entire animal and plant species at the hands of humans. Chicago reflected on people’s disregard for the complexity of Earth’s ecosystems and “lack of awareness about the consequences of human actions in terms of disrupting this miracle of life.”

Five diverse women pose happily in NMWA's performance hall, in front of a projected slide that says "How can the arts inspire environmental advocacy?" They smile wide, one woman points happily at the camera, and another throws up a peace sign.

Fresh Talk moderator Kari Fulton (far left) and speakers Laura Turner Seydel, Miranda Massie, Jacqui Patterson, and Amy Lipton pose after their grounding, hopeful talk about the arts and environmental advocacy.

All of these Fresh Talks demonstrate how artists can be agents of conscience in the world. During this time at home, I hope that you will find ways to immerse yourself in the arts and their ability to address the current issues we face. Please add your voices via social media using #FreshTalk4Change and tagging @WomenInTheArts. We look forward to gathering with you at the museum again, one day soon, where we can experience the power of the arts together.

—Susan Fisher Sterling is the Alice West Director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.