Artist Spotlight: Charlotte Charbonnel

The fifth installment of NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, Heavy Metal, is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition showcases contemporary artists working in metal, including those who create sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Heavy Metal engages with the fluidity between “fine” art, design, and craft, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.

Charlotte Charbonnel with Train End (2016) in Heavy Metal; Photo: Sarah Baker

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018
Artist: Charlotte Charbonnel
Nominating committee: Les Amis du NMWA (France) / Consulting curator: Alicia Knock, Centre Pompidou

Works by French artist Charlotte Charbonnel often highlight invisible forces, like sound and magnetic waves. Charbonnel’s work focuses on “different visual qualities, the physical instability, and the acoustic properties of elements.”

Two of Charbonnel’s works in Heavy Metal, Petit colosse n°7 (2016) and Resonarium (2011), contain iron filings suspended in space by magnetism. Resonarium, in particular, demonstrates the strange way in which magnets can help metal defy gravity. The work’s central core rotates slowly on a motor while iron filings shift subtly, pulled by an invisible magnetic attraction. Viewers may find the work to have a magical, hypnotic quality.

Charbonnel is attracted to metal for its transformative qualities. “Metal, through its different states (powder, solid, and liquid) allows a transformation that I try to reveal in my work,” says the artist. “Because metal can transform from one state to another, it seems almost alive, organic.”

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Charlotte Charbonnel, Petit colosse n°7, 2016; Iron filings and resin, 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 in.; Courtesy of Backslash; Photo by Salim Santa Lucia

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Charlotte Charbonnel, Resonarium, 2011; Aluminum, iron powder, magnets and motor, 59 1/8 x 35 1/2 x 15 3/4 in.; Courtesy of Backslash; Photo by François Deladerrière

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Charlotte Charbonnel, Resonarium (detail), 2011; Aluminum, iron powder, magnets and motor, 59 1/8 x 35 1/2 x 15 3/4 in.; Courtesy of Backslash; Photo by François Deladerrière

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Charlotte Charbonnel, Train End, 2016; Measuring tool and stainless rods, 11 7/8 x 13 3/8 in.; Courtesy of Backslash; Photo courtesy of the artist; © Charlotte Charbonnel

Charbonnel sees iron filings as “independent, mutable pieces until they come into contact with magnets.” She is interested in the way that the “resulting shape can evoke a mineral, an animal, or a fossil.” Charbonnel’s intriguing sculptures and installations blend science and art and highlight the enigmatic beauty of natural forces.

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide.

—Nana Gongadze is the 2018 summer publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

5 Questions with Serena Porrati

The fifth installment of NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, Heavy Metal, is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition showcases contemporary artists working in metal, including those who create sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Heavy Metal engages with the fluidity between “fine” art, design, and craft, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018
Artist: Serena Porrati
Nominating committee: Gli Amici del NMWA (Italy) / Consulting curator: Iolanda Ratti, Museo del Novecento

Serena Porrati with Thin Film (2017); Photo: Sarah Baker

1. What do you like best about working with metal?

During my masters in Art and Science at Central Saint Martins I spent most of my time in the metal workshop, where I quickly got involved in welding. I was attracted by the physicality of the work. Metal requires your mind but also your muscles.

I’m excited by the speed of welding and by the possibility of building heavy structures in only a few hours. I also appreciate metal’s intrinsic properties. I realized that I wasn’t interested in using metal to represent something. I was using it to study and question its own materiality, establishing a discourse with it.

2. How do your works on view in Heavy Metal fit into your larger body of work?

The works presented here are not fixed or defined, rather they evoke their own history or a discourse. They constantly question their own origin and destiny.

I don’t see the metals as a passive stuff. As theorist Jane Bennett states, this habit of parsing the world into dull matter (it, things) and vibrant life (us, beings) is a “partition of the sensible.” The quarantines of matter and life encourage us to ignore the vitality of matter and the lively powers of material formations.

3. As an artist, what is your most essential tool? Why?

I use heat as a brush, as a process of transformation, and a tool to operate. By mimicking geological and industrial processes, engaging with ideas of control and chance, working with metal and heat, I mark a trajectory between the organic and the inorganic, the animate and inanimate, life and non-life, the raw material and the artifact. It’s an attempt to evade binary categories of thought.

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Serena Porrati, Thin Film, 2017; Copper, 15 3/4 x 12 in.; Courtesy of Space4235 Genoa

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Serena Porrati, Damascus Sunset, 2017; Steel, 1 1/4 x 24 7/8 in.; Courtesy of the artist

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Serena Porrati, Collapse, 2014; Cast iron, 7 7/8 x 9 7/8 x 3 1/2 in.; Courtesy of the artist

4. Who or what are your sources of inspiration and influence?

Science, nature, and the forest outside my house, but also the heavy cargo airplanes that fly over my house inspire me. I enjoy reading and listening to contemporary philosophers, including Donna Haraway, Elisabeth Povinelli, John Zerzan, Hannah Tzing, and Jane Bennett—and also their predecessors, Tommaso Bruno, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Thoreau, Darwin, Adorno, and Deleuze.

5.What is the last exhibition you saw that you had a strong reaction to?

Carta Canta was a collective show held at Il Foglio, a printing workshop in Milan where etchings from great masters of art history were exhibited alongside works by contemporary artists.

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide.

5 Questions with Beverly Penn

The fifth installment of NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, Heavy Metal, is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition showcases contemporary artists working in metal, including those who create sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Heavy Metal engages with the fluidity between “fine” art, design, and craft, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018

Artist: Beverly Penn
Nominating committee: Texas State Committee / Consulting curator: Virginia Treanor, National Museum of Women in the Arts

Beverly Penn; Photo: Christopher Zaleski

1. What do you like best about working with metal?

Metal adds permanence and intractability to an otherwise susceptible and transitory entity. In essence and in form the bronze replaces each unique plant, like a non-natural double. I cast weeds into bronze to create an enduring replica that pays homage to the original—like a memorial. The notion of a memorial is significant in these times of irreversible climate change and extinction, yet a memorial also links us to desire, so it is also hopeful.

2. How do your works on view in Heavy Metal fit into your larger body of work?

My larger body of work includes three related explorations. The “Timeline” series documents a single plant through an annual growth cycle, from bud to seed, by fixing specimens in a vertical sequence to slotted glass rods. The “Weed” series explores a group of plants with which humans have had to contend for places over millennia. The “Nativesseries reveals a sense of unity with nature.

3. As an artist, what is your most essential tool? Why?

My psyche (soul, brain, eyes, hands) and my torch. One imagines and the other makes.

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Beverly Penn, Eight Months Time: Snowcap Hawthorne, 2017; Bronze, glass, brass, and steel, 40 x 10 x 6 in.; Courtesy of the artist, Lisa Sette Gallery, and William Campbell Contemporary Art; Photo by Christopher Zaleski

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Beverly Penn, Maelstrom, 2011; Bronze, 108 x 108 x 6 in.; Courtesy of the artist, Lisa Sette Gallery, and William Campbell Contemporary Art; Photo by Christopher Zaleski

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Beverly Penn, Fata Morgana, 2014; Bronze, 90 x 8 x 27 in.; Courtesy of the artist, Lisa Sette Gallery, and William Campbell Contemporary Art; Photo by Christopher Zaleski

4. Who or what are your sources of inspiration and influence?

I am inspired and perplexed by the kingdom of plants with which we share this planet—especially the natives, invasives, and other stoic upstarts that persist without our stewardship. I am also inspired by Moorish architecture, Islamic art, and Victorian design. I am influenced by historians E. H. Gombrich, Oleg Grabar, and Christian Norberg-Schultz; the writing of Michael Pollen, Lucy Lippard, Ann Patchett, and Zadie Smith; the gardens and fantasies of Martha Schwartz and Antoni Gaudi; the music of Keith Jarrett, Aretha Franklin, and Nick Drake; as well as many artists.

5. What is the last exhibition you saw that you had a strong reaction to?

I was moved by Do Ho Suh’s recent solo exhibition, which featured drawings, videos, and sculptural fabric “Specimen” series. Made from glowing transparent polyester, these “specimens” were replicas of domestic appliances and fixtures. The installation was a dreamlike replica of the artist’s New York apartment and studio made from luminous, transparent fabric. Wandering through the ephemeral likeness of this ghostly maze of corridors and rooms was a physical and psychological exchange of one reality for another.

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide.

Alchemy of Fashion: The Wearable Art of “Heavy Metal”

From jackets made of hammered sheet metal, to cuffs of delicate copper and organza, Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018 features a diverse array of wearable art. On one level, these pieces can be appreciated as sculptural works of art. On another, they are functional objects.

Left: Carolina Rieckhof Brommer, Self-portrait 4, 2005; Welded steel, 47 1/4 x 27 1/2 x 19 3/4 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Photo by Natalia Revilla; Right: Kerianne Quick, The Utility of Sentimental Emotions, and Perceived Value, 2017; Sterling silver, copper, and steel, 24 x 5 x 1/4 in.; Courtesy of the artist

Artists Kerianne Quick and Carolina Rieckhof Brommer create wearable works that speak to the intimate roles that clothing and accessories can play in people’s lives. For both artists, metal is intrinsic to the meaning of their works. Quick’s The Utility of Sentimental Emotions, and Perceived Value (2017) references the objects that migrants—by choice or necessity—decide to leave behind or take with them. Quick’s work explores the significance and weight that a metal key can have to humans. Brommer’s welded steel coat, Self-portrait 4 (2005), mimics the folding and texture of fabric’s patchwork, but is as hard and immovable as armor. Brommer’s work was influenced by issues surrounding violence against women. The experience of shielding one’s body through clothing is not uncommon for many women.

Left: Cheryl Eve Acosta, Open to Heal, 2009; Cuff with copper and organza, 10 x 11 x 5 1/2 in.; Courtesy of the artist; © Cheryl Eve Acosta; Photo by Affandi Setiawa; Right: Petronella Eriksson, Water Lily, 2013; Necklace with silver and lemon quartz, 5 1/8 x 15 3/4 x 10 5/8 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Photo by Christian Habetzeder

Several Heavy Metal artists create wearable art in the form of jewelry. Their works play with contrast and highlight metal’s lustrous qualities. Artists Petronella Eriksson and Cheryl Eve Acosta take inspiration from the natural world. Eriksson’s necklace, Waterlily (2013), contains smooth silver and a large piece of lemon quartz. Delicate, curling tendrils spill onto one shoulder of the person wearing the necklace. A minimalistic take on the flower, the cut gem references the yellow fruit at the center of a real plant. Acosta, influenced by the tropical environment of her native Puerto Rico, finds inspiration beneath the sea. Although Acosta’s cuff Birth (2015) and collar Healing (2009) are made from copper, they refer to the shapes and forms of coral and barnacles.

Metal is both a standard material for delicate jewelry and an unlikely material for clothing. The artists in Heavy Metal embrace the unexpected to create innovative, dynamic works.

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018 is on view through September 16, 2018.

—Nana Gongadze is the summer 2018 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Artist Spotlight: Leila Khoury

The fifth installment of NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, Heavy Metal, is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition showcases contemporary artists working in metal, including those who create sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Heavy Metal engages with the fluidity between “fine” art, design, and craft, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018
Artist: Leila Khoury
Nominating committee: Ohio Advisory Group / Consulting curators: Reto Thüring, Cleveland Museum of Art, and Matt Distel, The Carnegie

Leila Khoury with Palmyra (2015) in Heavy Metal; Photo: Sarah Baker

The art of Leila Khoury is both powerful and deeply personal, and responds to the continuing horrors of the Syrian Civil War. The conflict, now in its seventh year, began during Khoury’s time as an undergraduate art student. Her family’s deep roots in the country inspired her to create work focusing the effects of the conflict.

Two works by Khoury on view in Heavy Metal directly reference places damaged by the war. Palmyra (2015) is a large pair of hanging concrete slabs, with the forms of ruins emerging from the rough grey material. Violence caused considerable damage to the ancient city in 2015. To create the work, Khoury spent an hour attempting to build an image of the city without consulting any photos. “It was a really spiritual experience because I was having to face the fact that I might never see this place [again] in my life while I was making it,” she says about the process.

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Leila Khoury, Palmyra, 2015; Steel and concrete, 84 x 84 x 24 in.; Courtesy of the artist

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Leila Khoury, Palmyra (detail), 2015; Steel and concrete, 84 x 84 x 24 in.; Courtesy of the artist

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Leila Khoury, Summer House, 2015; Steel and concrete, 12 x 48 x 1 in.; Courtesy of the artist

Her other work in the show, Summer House (2015), confronts the way the war has affected her family. Khoury felt that the repeated square windows of the piece evoked memories of visiting her grandmother’s beach house in Syria. She filled them with concrete to symbolize the fact that her summers spent visiting that place were over, perhaps forever. The artist salvaged the metal for the piece from a scrap yard herself. Her interest in metal comes from her kinship and experimentation in the metal shop community she joined as an undergrad, where she “became enamored by the nature of metal, and the ease at which welding enabled [her] to work large-scale.”

“It is my hope that my work brings visibility to a common immigrant experience, that which is complex and defined by mixed, often conflicting cultural identities,” the artist explains. “I am still learning how to communicate this in a language that is universal.”

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide.

—Nana Gongadze is the 2018 summer publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Portraits with Voices: Susan Katz’s “The Woman I Am” Project

During the 1970s Feminist Art Movement, Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party and art historian Linda Nochlin’s groundbreaking essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” celebrated great women in history and brought to light the institutional challenges that prevent women artists from succeeding professionally. In the midst of this, photographer Susan Katz (b. 1947) began work on a photobook project titled The Woman I Am, documenting 18 women’s experiences as professional artists.

Susan Katz, Untitled (Portrait of Alice Walker) from “The Woman I Am,” 1974–1976; National Museum of Women in the Arts

Katz is an American photographer from Brooklyn, who in the early 1970s became involved with the Women’s Liberation Movement, anti-racist activism, and the New York art scene. The Woman I Am reflects her passion for activism and art. Unfortunately, Katz’s book was never published. Katz gifted the full model of her project, as well as her negatives, slides, contact sheets, photographic prints, and notes, to NMWA’s Archives of Women Artists at the Betty Boyd Dettre Library & Research Center.

Susan Katz, Untitled (Portrait of Barbara Kruger) from “The Woman I Am,” 1974–1976; National Museum of Women in the Arts

The project sprang from Katz’s quest to discover how to fully center art in her own life as a personal and professional commitment. From 1974 to 1976, she photographed and interviewed well-established women artists, dancers, musicians, and writers in their New York City studios. Each artist is represented by several photographs and a short personal essay facilitated by Katz and writer Leslie J. Freeman, based on interviews with the artists.

Katz sought to portray each artist’s “self-doubts, conflicts, excitement, frustration, and the decisions she made to commit herself further.” Katz captured the determination of her subjects in her photographs, as seen in artist Barbara Kruger’s unwavering gaze or in the total concentration of writer Alice Walker while working.

Katz wished to explore how each artist felt their gender impacted their art. Writer Alice Walker, for example, spoke with Katz about the new opportunities open to women of her generation. “What we’ve decided is we want everything,” she said, including the chance to work as an artist professionally and have children.

Susan Katz, Untitled (Portrait of Gillian Bradshaw-Smith) from “The Woman I Am,” 1974–1976; National Museum of Women in the Arts

Artist Gillian Bradshaw-Smith spoke with Katz about how her chosen medium was sometimes perceived by critics from gendered perspectives. Bradshaw-Smith creates sculpture out of fabric and stuffing, and she expressed her frustration with those who looked at her sculpture as simply a woman’s craft instead of engaging with it as art. She said, “Sewing can be thought of as a put-down. It makes me angry when I hear, “That’s what women do, they can sew.”

What Katz experienced during the course of her work on The Woman I Am project may be best summarized in the personal essay of photographer Eva Rubenstein. When photographing someone, she said, “You can’t help but get involved with that person, at an emotional level.”

—Shannon Neal is the summer 2018 intern in the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

5 Questions with Blanca Muñoz

The fifth installment of NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, Heavy Metal, is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition showcases contemporary artists working in metal, including those who create sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Heavy Metal engages with the fluidity between “fine” art, design, and craft, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018
Artist: Blanca Muñoz
Nominating committee: Spain Committee / Consulting curator: Lucia Ybarra, YGB Art and Factoría Cultural

Blanca Muñoz with her works in Heavy Metal; Photo: Sarah Baker

1. What do you like best about working with metal?

I like the ability to create something that seems soft and light, but is made from a heavy and strong stainless steel.

2. How do your works on view in Heavy Metal fit into your larger body of work?

I think it is a small representation and not very recent work, but feel reasonably comfortable.

3. As an artist, what is your most essential tool? Why?

My most essential tool is electric welding. It gives me a way to build almost anything I want.

4. Who or what are your sources of inspiration and influence?

I am inspired by science, art history, nature, and the universe.

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Blanca Muñoz, Bujía, 2013, Stainless steel, 10 1/2 x 23 1/2 x 21 1/2 in.; Courtesy of Marlborough Gallery Madrid; Photo © Arturo Muñoz

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Blanca Muñoz, Sirenio, 2011; Stainless steel, 11 7/8 x 25 1/4 x 15 in.; Courtesy of Marlborough Gallery Madrid; Photo © Arturo Muñoz

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Blanca Muñoz, Atrapada, 2013; Stainless steel, 16 1/2 x 24 1/4 x 23 3/8 in.; Courtesy of Marlborough Gallery Madrid; Photo © Arturo Muñoz

5. What is the last exhibition you saw that you had a strong reaction to?

My favorite is the exhibition Georges de La Tour: 1593–1652, which was on view at the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide. This exhibition received support from Acción Cultural Española.

5 Questions with Kelsey Wishik

The fifth installment of NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, Heavy Metal, is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition showcases contemporary artists working in metal, including those who create sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Heavy Metal engages with the fluidity between “fine” art, design, and craft, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.

Kelsey Wishik; Photo: Jessy Cook

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018
Artist: Kelsey Wishik
Nominating committee: Mississippi State Committee / Consulting curator: Pat Pinson, Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center

1. What do you like best about working with metal? 

Although metal seems solid and cold, it offers a great range of malleability and receptivity to shaping processes. Different metals offer strength and softness. I enjoy the physicality of working with steel. Working with metal provides me with an outlet for physical energy.

2. How do your works on view in Heavy Metal fit into your larger body of work? 

I have been investigating form and force. I’m interested in observing universal forces and the imprints they leave on life. Such forces include things like speed, momentum, pressure, flexibility, mass, and buoyancy. These forces also enter into more ethereal realms of love, nature, compassion, culture, and exploration. Each of my pieces embodies a force or series of forces.

 3. As an artist, what is your most essential tool? Why?  

My greatest tool as an artist is curiosity. It precedes all physical tools. As I’ve grown as an artist, curiosity keeps me asking questions that bring depth to my work and to my process of creating. How can I serve with art? How can I invite uplifting, imaginative attitudes without adding to the chaos? Is this work authentic? What are my intentions?

Kelsey Wishik, Sprout, 2014; Mild steel, 17 x 50 x 22 1/2 in.; Courtesy of the artist

4. Who or what are your sources of inspiration and influence? 

They are infinite. I find inspiration through my surroundings, my intuition, and other people. I am influenced by literature, music, landscapes, and different vantage points. I am also inspired by rites of passage, especially those of the Indigenous cultures of North America. My interests include quantum physics, sci-fi, and energy fields (biological and geographical). Within the realm of women in metal arts, Lee Bontecou has always been a huge inspiration.

5. What is the last exhibition you saw that you had a strong reaction to?  

The National Gallery in London’s paintings from 1600 to the 1700s, specifically works by Caravaggio and Vermeer, took my breath away. When I was younger and studying portraiture in art history, the subject seemed uninteresting. Seeing these portraits eye-to-eye was mesmerizing. Detailed faces from the past seemed alive. It was poignant to feel the passage of time preserved in a frame.

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide.

Casting, Construction, and Catharsis: Metalwork Processes

Metalwork has been considered a masculine practice due to the laborious, physical processes involved in manipulating metal. Despite this stereotype, women have long been artists and manufacturers in this dynamic medium. NMWA’s fifth Women to Watch exhibition, Heavy Metal, spotlights contemporary women artists who work with metal. These artists employ fascinating, diverse processes in the creation of their works.

Beverly Penn, Maelstrom, 2011; Bronze, 108 x 108 x 6 in.; Courtesy of the artist, Lisa Sette Gallery, and William Campbell Contemporary Art; Photo by Christopher Zaleski

While many of the featured artists manipulate scrap and recycled metal to make their works, others cast with liquid metal to create new objects. Beverly Penn’s intriguing, detailed bronze sculptures of invasive plants, such as Maelstrom (2011), are cast directly from the plants themselves. Penn calls this method “lost plant casting,” a play on the ancient metalworking method of lost wax casting. It also references the fact that plants burn away in the casting process. In this sense, the resulting sculpture is like a memorial to the plant, immortalized in metal.

Leila Khoury, Summer House, 2015; Steel and concrete, 12 x 48 x 1 in.; Courtesy of the artist

Other Heavy Metal artists find the process of creation to be a deeply personal or cathartic one. Leila Khoury’s steel and concrete works respond to the horrors of the ongoing Syrian civil war, which began during her time in art school. Khoury, of Syrian descent, created Palmyra (2015) in the aftermath of the destruction of the ancient city, attempting to create an image of the place from her own memories.

Khoury’s sculpture Summer House (2015) references her childhood memories of visiting her grandparents’ home in Syria. The structure recalls a row of windows, which Khoury filled with cement to symbolize that she may never return there. She describes the process of making as a way of grieving.

Holly Laws, Three Eastern Bluebirds, 2017; Copper, steel, mahogany, found ironing board, and plywood pedestal, 50 1/2 x 60 x 28 in.; Courtesy of the artist

Holly Laws’s Three Eastern Bluebirds (2017), made from cast bronze, a found ironing board, and plywood pedestal, is a response to the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. For Laws, this work served as her own “personal art therapy.” She meticulously cast 144 bird feathers for Three Eastern Bluebirds. Artists such as Laws reclaim meticulous handwork and other craft techniques, which have traditionally not been considered high art.

Alice Hope also used repetitive handwork to create her untitled 2016 sculpture. Hope patiently strung together thousands of crimson Budweiser beer can tabs—which the artist refers to as “found color”—into a massive spiral form.

The variance and vibrancy of the works in Heavy Metal testifies to the intriguing and often innovative methods that these women artists apply to metal.

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide.

—Nana Gongadze is the summer 2018 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Get to Know NMWA’s Director: Part 2

NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling answers questions about art, equity, and travel. This is part two of a two-part questionnaire. Explore part one.

Yael Bartana, What if Women Ruled the World, 2016; Neon, 98 1/2 x 38 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Museum purchase, Belinda de Gaudemar Acquisition Fund, with additional support from the Members’ Acquisition Fund; © Yael Bartana; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

What do you consider your greatest achievements regarding women and the arts?

First, helping NMWA founder Wilhelmina Holladay and the board of trustees to build this museum. Second, having the privilege of working in contemporary art and being in the exciting position of introducing artists to the world.

What is your favorite museum outside of your own?

It could be the last one I’ve visited. The Science Gallery in Dublin is working in an innovative way. I have always loved the Musée Guimet in Paris and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich. I like museums that surprise me. There’s a real sense of discovery when you are at a smaller museum, and it becomes a jewel box experience.

What has been your most inspirational travel destination?

I traveled to Brazil in 1993 and saw phenomenally important work from the 1960s and 1970s that I had never seen, the flipside of what was happening in the U.S. at the time. I was one of the first curators in the U.S. to recognize that this work was missing from our lexicon of great contemporary art. As a result of the trip, we were able to show two exhibitions of work by Brazilian women artists at NMWA.

Frida Baranek, Untitled, 1991; Iron, 44 x 75 x 46 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Museum purchase: The Lois Pollard Price Acquisition Fund; © Frida Baranek / Galeria Raquel Arnaud, © Frida Baranek

What do women in leadership positions in the arts need more of?

According to the 2014 Association of American Art Museum Directors survey, there is a gender gap in salaries. We need more women in executive leadership positions and more women in board leadership positions. We also need to create more time for women to speak with experts from other fields, creating centers for relevant conversations about the future of our culture. And we need an influx of younger people who believe in what museums do.

What does gender equity mean to you?

Women need to be recognized both as sole producers and as part of a larger context of women. Equal representation has a ripple effect. Communities will support women if their work is valued. We need to focus on a wider world view including women of color.

What artistic talent would you most like to have?

It may not be an artistic talent, but I’ve always wanted to be able to see the future.

Tell us something we might not know about you.

I like science fiction—especially Star Trek and Westworld. I wonder what art would look like on another planet or galaxy.