Righting the Balance: It Doesn’t Stop Here

NMWA’s latest initiative, Women, Arts, and Social Change, kicked off Sunday, October 18, with FRESH TALK: Righting the Balance. The new public program focuses on women and the arts as catalysts for change through a series of “Fresh Talks.”


FRESH TALK panelists, Left: Maura Reilly, Sarah Douglas, and Jillian Steinhauer, Right: Guerrilla Girl Alma Thomas, Micol Hebron, Ghada Amer, and Simone Leigh; Photo: Kevin Allen

Women at the top of their art-world careers addressed the topic, “Can there be gender parity in the art world?” Curator and event co-organizer Maura Reilly, who wrote the central essay in the recent ARTnews magazine on women in the art world, introduced the event. Discussions featured Jillian Steinhauer of Hyperallergic, Sarah Douglas of ARTnews, Gabriela Palmieri of Sotheby’s, Mary Sabbatino of Galerie Lelong, artist Ghada Amer, artist Micol Hebron (organizer of Gallery Tally), artist Simone Leigh, Guerrilla Girl Alma Thomas, and activist/storyteller Jamia Wilson.

The goal of FRESH TALK is to keep the conversation going, and it wouldn’t be complete without input from participants, advocates, and women. We asked for your feedback during stimulating conversation over Sunday Supper and via comments. This is what you told us:

1. More women need to be heard.

Although the panel featured women from different backgrounds, talents, and career paths—Guerrilla Girl Alma Thomas was a highlight for many attendees—participants want to hear from more women of color and from the LGBT community. The next two FRESH TALK programs push these communities to the forefront of the discussion.

2. It’s time to get loud!

Artist Micol Hebron—one of the most-quoted speakers of the night—said, “If you don’t see something, say something!” When visitors notice a lack of representation of women, persons of color, and the LGBT community in museums, galleries, or other arts spaces, they should speak up! Collective voices can rally against these injustices.


FRESH TALK attendees share their thoughts during Sunday Supper and through comment cards; Photo: Kevin Allen

3. Arts inequities are a problem for women of all ages.

A vast intergenerational audience exchanged views over Sunday Supper. Emerging women advocates sat with experienced professionals and passionately shared ideas about advancing the conversation. Intergenerational advocacy can be a strong resource in combating inequality.

4. Nonprofit art centers can make a difference too.

FRESH TALK attendees; Photo: Kevin Allen

FRESH TALK attendees Sheena Marie Morrison and Lauren Lyde; Photo: Kevin Allen

Panelists focused on data concerning gender inequity in the arts—particularly in sales and auction prices of art by women.

Nonprofit and alternative art spaces work as resources contesting the status quo. Many institutions thrive under the leadership of women, especially in D.C. We look forward to hearing more about the challenges that local centers face through an upcoming Cultural Capital series.

5. Now is the time to strike!

Fueled with the knowledge of engaging panelists, the event’s participants were inspired to take action. One commenter wants to host a protest for women artists, while another hopes to encourage her university gallery to collect and display work by women. An educator plans to empower her students to continue to challenge inequity.

It doesn’t stop here. Stay tuned for more FRESH TALK programs and get involved in the fight for gender equity in the arts. Mark your calendars for “Carrie Mae Weems: Can an artist inspire social change?” on November 15 and “Change by Design with Gabriel Maher and Alice Rawsthorn—Can design be genderless?” on January 27, 2016.

—Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell is the public programs coordinator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Art Fix Friday: August 28, 2015

Women in music caused a buzz this week. Music critic Jessica Hopper used Twitter to “put the spotlight on pervasive sexism staining the [music] industry.”

The Guardian shares women musicians’ experiences of not being as respected as their male counterparts.

The Huffington Post discusses the gender gap with pop artist Anna Hass. The songwriter says, “It must first be acknowledged before it can be changed. Men and women of talent deserve equal representation and opportunities to make a living in the music industry.”

Exam boards have ignored female composers as worthy of study. Although there have been famous and successful female classical composers, many have been “written out of history; left out of the canon.”

The New York-based platform Discwoman showcases female-identified DJ talent in the electronic music community.

Front Page Femmes

Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi’s controversial sculpture has led to her arrest—twice.

The Guardian discusses women war photographers who have since faded into obscurity.

New tapestries by Ebony G. Patterson incorporate colorful clumps of flowers and gems but reveal disturbing crime scene moments upon closer examination.

Akshaya Borkar, the founder of The Art and Craft Gallery, is attempting to revolutionize the art industry online.

The Joan Mitchell Center, an artist retreat funded by Mitchell’s foundation, opened this weekend in New Orleans.

The Huffington Post interviews curator and writer Maura Reilly. Reilly discusses the recent ARTnews Special Issue on Women in the Art World.

The Women’s Project Theater begins its season at the McGinn/Cazale Theater on Broadway. The company is dedicated to promoting women artists.

Twelve writers have been selected to participate in a new program funded by Meryl Streep. The Writers Lab is devoted to script development for women writers over the age of 40.

Ballet dancer Misty Copeland makes her Broadway debut in the musical On the Town.

Shows We Want to See

Hyperallergic reviews a new exhibition of works by Baroque painter Josefa de Óbidos (1630–1684). “She is considered to be one of the most accomplished painters of 17th-century Portugal and is especially significant because of the recognition she gained in an art period dominated by men.”

Egyptian-Lebanese artist Lara Baladi’s 29-foot-long tapestry Oum el Dounia is on view at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Portuguese artist Leonor Antunes cites textile artist Anni Albers and filmmaker Maya Deren as inspirations for her installation in the New Museum’s Lobby Gallery.

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.