#Instameets @WomenInTheArts

In honor of International Women’s Day, NMWA will host an #EmptyNMWA instameet on Tuesday, March 8. An “instameet” is an opportunity for photographers to gather, meet, and snap pictures for Instagram. The museum will give 30 photographers a chance to explore and photograph the museum’s collection before public hours.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts hosted its first instameet on December 9, 2015, in collaboration with @IGDC, a community of photographers based in the D.C. metropolitan area. NWMA welcomed local instagrammers to visit the museum before it opened to the public to capture the special exhibition Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today.

NMWA Associate Curator Virginia Treanor guided 18 photographers through the exhibition and highlighted show-stopping works by midcentury and contemporary women designers while illuminating the artists’ processes—photographers enjoyed hearing about Polly Apfelbaum, who used a punch card as a stencil for her Handweaver’s Pattern Book installation (2014).

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Left to right: @ksdirectional’s detail image, @saifahmed99’s photo

The event’s photographs captured the diversity of the dynamic women designers whose work was on view. Photographer @ksdirectional captured an amazing detail photo of Front Design’s Axor WaterDream/Axor Shower System (2014) and @saifahmed99’s installation shot of Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi’s Circle Dresses (ca. 1964) was chosen as the photo of the day by the #ACreativeDC feed. The instameet gave photographers the chance to see—and share—the exhibition from a new perspective.

2016-02-29 10_28_16-Steph on Instagram_ “After wandering with friends during the #pathmakersinstamee

@tappety’s post about Mickalene Thomas

After spending an hour exploring the exhibition with behind-the-scenes access, museum staff invited attendees to explore the museum’s collection. Many of the participants had never visited the museum before, but were inspired by NMWA’s diverse collection and the architecture of the Great Hall. One participant, @tappety, discovered Mickalene Thomas’s rhinestone-encrusted A-E-I-O-U (and Sometimes Y) during her tour of the third-floor galleries.

Browse the 100 stunning photos captured from the #PathmakersInstameet on Instagram. Apply here by noon on March 4 to have a chance to explore the museum’s empty collection galleries on International Women’s Day and enjoy a special collection highlights tour.

Stacy Meteer is the communications and marketing associate at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

5 Fast Facts: Anni Albers

Impress your friends with five fast facts about designer Anni Albers (1899–1994), whose work is on view in Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today through February 28, 2015.

Anni Albers (1899–1994)

Anni Albers, Tikal, 1958; Cotton, 30 x 23 in.; Museum of Arts and Design; Gift of the Johnson Wax Company, through the American Craft Council, 1979; Photo by Eva Heyd

Anni Albers, Tikal, 1958; Cotton, 30 x 23 in.; Museum of Arts and Design; Gift of the Johnson Wax Company, through the American Craft Council, 1979; Photo by Eva Heyd

1. Jack(ie) of all Trades

Though best known as a textile designer, German-born Anni Albers dabbled in a variety of fine art and craft mediums. During her career, which began at the Bauhaus in 1922 and continued until her death in 1994, she experimented with lithography, painting, printmaking, jewelry design, and weaving.

2. Berlin to Black Mountain

Albers studied and taught in Germany at Berlin’s famed Bauhaus (1919–1933), a progressive art school that espoused the integration of fine art, craft, and design. When Nazis closed the Bauhaus, Albers and her husband, Josef, immigrated to America to teach at North Carolina’s newly formed, experimental Black Mountain College (1933–1957).

3. Bauhaus is a Very, Very, Very Fine Haus?

Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, believed that women thought in two dimensions while men could grapple with three. As a result, the school restricted female students’ enrollment to “gender appropriate” courses. Barred from architecture and sculpture classes, Albers and her female peers were encouraged to study weaving instead.

4. Paper Products

NMWA’s collection includes two works on paper by Albers. An untitled screen-print (1969) is composed of vibrant turquoise and red triangles. Albers’s juxtaposition and choice of color create visual vibrations and noise. The more subdued palette of the ink-and-pencil drawing Dr. VII (1973) seems calm and quiet in contrast.

Anni Albers, Untitled, 1969; Serigraph on paper; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay, NMWA

Anni Albers, Dr. VII, 1973; Ink and pencil on paper, 18 1/4 in. x 12 5/8 in.; Gift of Olga Hirshhorn, NMWA

5. Exhibitionist

In 1949, the Museum of Modern Art mounted Anni Albers: Textiles, making Albers the first weaver to have a one-person exhibition at the museum.

—Addie Gayoso is associate educator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

5 Fast Facts: Toshiko Takaezu

Impress your friends with five fast facts about designer Toshiko Takaezu (1922–2011), whose work is on view in Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today through February 28, 2015.

Toshiko Takaezu, Photo: John Paul Miller, ca. 1960s; Courtesy American Craft Council

Toshiko Takaezu, Photo: John Paul Miller, ca. 1960s; Courtesy American Craft Council

Toshiko Takaezu (1922–2011)

1. Silent Partners

Takaezu saw every aspect of her artistic process as a collaboration. Whether working in her garden or firing her finished works, she knew there were forces beyond her control that contributed to the final products.

 2. Teacher’s Pet

The work of ceramic artist Maija Grotell inspired Takaezu to apply to the prestigious Cranbrook Academy of Art. She was accepted in 1951 and became Grotell’s teaching assistant in her third year. Works by both artists are displayed in Pathmakers.

3. Student to Teacher

Takaezu attributed her artistic growth to her teachers. She later passed on her passion to her own students. Through teaching at the Cleveland Institute of Art and Princeton University, and by training live-in apprentices, she gave a new generation of artists the opportunity to find themselves through ceramics.

4. Renaissance Woman

Known for her work in ceramics, Takaezu glazed her vessels like a painter. Her first closed forms were a response to her desire for a continuous surface to glaze. She also worked in textiles and took classes with designer Marianne Strengell—another Pathmakers artist—while at Cranbrook.

Installation view of Takaezu’s ceramics in Pathmakers

Installation view of Takaezu’s ceramics in Pathmakers; NMWA

5. Everything is Sound

Takaezu found that the senses of sight, touch, and hearing were closely connected. While she focused on visual aesthetics, she often incorporated sound into her work. She placed clay beads in some of her closed pots, which rattle when handled. She even created several bronze bells.

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

“Fountain Lady”: Ruth Asawa in San Francisco

While visiting family in San Francisco, I visited some of the city’s public artworks by Ruth Asawa—one of the artists featured in NMWA’s exhibition Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today. Living in San Francisco for most of her adult life, Asawa worked as an artist, arts educator, and arts advocate. Dubbed the “Fountain Lady,” Asawa created major public artworks in prominent tourist areas.

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Ruth Asawa’s Andrea

Situated in Ghirardelli Square, Andrea (1968) depicts two mermaids surrounded by frogs, turtles, and lily pads. Strikingly different from the abstract wire sculptures for which Asawa is best known, Andrea was Asawa’s first public commission as well as her first major representational work. Asawa believed the whimsical fountain would tap into the dreams of both children and adults wondering what lays beneath the water’s surface. The fountain’s plaque tells the story of how Lawrence Halprin, a landscape architect for the square, preferred an abstract work and fought to have Andrea replaced. However, the public united behind Asawa, and the sculpture remained.

The San Francisco Bay and Bay Bridge serve as a dramatic backdrop for another fountain by Asawa, Aurora, located at 188 Embarcadero. Water flows from the top of the wheel-shaped steel sculpture and around its perimeter before splashing into a blue-tiled pool.

Ruth Asawa’s Aurora

Ruth Asawa’s Aurora

Aurora is based on Asawa’s folded paper forms—an important part of her artistic vocabulary. She learned origami as a child and was encouraged by one of her Black Mountain College professors, Josef Albers, to explore the technique further. Throughout her life, she used paper for a range of artistic and educational projects.

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Ruth Asawa’s Redding School, Self-Portrait

Redding School, Self-Portrait (1984), located in Father Alfred E. Boeddeker Park, is a bas relief sculptural wall made of glass fiber-reinforced concrete. The mural depicts a prominent public servant in the city’s history, Franciscan friar Boedekker, surrounded by children, houses, airplanes, and animals.

For this work, Redding Elementary School students made their own sculptures out of baker’s dough for Asawa to assemble into one complete mold.

The project reflects Asawa’s commitment to encouraging children in the arts; in the late 1960s she and her friend Sally Woodbridge developed an innovative program through which children could learn directly from artists. Later, she helped establish a public high school for the arts.

Another work, Origami Fountains, consists of two sculptures. As its title implies, the lotus bloom shape of each sculpture was inspired by origami—particularly appropriate given the work’s location in Japantown. The distinct sculptures are situated on a bed of large flat stones embedded in cement and surrounded by a circular multi-tiered stone bench. When compared to the sleek and modern Aurora, Origami Fountains seems more organic in form and finish.

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Ruth Asawa’s Origami Fountains

Visiting Asawa’s public works gave me a greater awareness of her breadth, talent, and creativity. Given her connection to the city, it isn’t surprising that each work reflects not only her unique artistic vision but also a sensitivity to place, setting, and audience. Asawa created nine public artworks in San Francisco—each worth a visit.

—Ellen Pollak is the foundation and government support officer and national and international committees manager at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

5 Fast Facts: Agnes Martin

 Impress your friends with five fast facts about Agnes Martin (1912–2004), whose work is on view in Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today through February 28, 2016.

Agnes Martin (1912–2004)

1. Natural Feeling

Agnes Martin started out as a descriptive artist, but she was not truly satisfied with her work until she discovered the grid. In her move to abstraction, her goal was to depict subtle emotions, such as those felt when experiencing the natural world, rather than nature itself.

2. In the Neighborhood

While living on Coenties Slip in New York City from 1957 to 1969, Martin was a neighbor of artists Lenore Tawney, Ann Wilson, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Indiana, Jack Youngerman, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jasper Johns.

3. Off the Grid

In 1967, Martin “retired” from painting. She left New York, then the center of the art world, and drove around the continent in her pickup truck and camper. When she resurfaced, she had left the grid behind, focusing instead on horizontal fields of limited color and tone.

4. Poetic License

Celebrated as a visual artist, Martin also used the written word as a form of expression. Some of her notebooks combine the two art forms, with drawings on one page and poems opposite.

5. The Bare Necessities

In 1968, Martin settled on a mesa near Cuba, New Mexico, where she constructed buildings using native logs and adobe brick. For the next three decades, she lived a reclusive, solitary existence without electricity, plumbing, or a phone.

6. Emotional Gridlock

She once told an interviewer, “When I first made a grid I happened to be thinking of the innocence of trees and then this grid came into my mind and I thought it represented innocence, and I still do, and so I painted it and then I was satisfied. I thought this is my vision.”

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

Designing Conversations for Change

Braving post-blizzard traffic conditions in D.C., nearly 100 guests attended the museum’s third FRESH TALK—part of the new public programs initiative Women, Arts, and Social Change. On Wednesday, January 27, FRESH TALK: Can design be genderless? featured Netherlands-based designer Gabriel Ann Maher, whose work is on view in Pathmakers, and International New York Times design critic Alice Rawsthorn.

Design historian and critic Rawsthorn kicked off the evening with an overview of design, highlighting the ways design informs everyday life and how it is often gender-biased. She discussed the increasingly eclectic and fluid concept of gender identity and how it impacts design culture through digital technology.

Gabriel Maher speaks at NMWA; Photo: Kevin Allen

Gabriel Maher speaks at NMWA; Photo: Kevin Allen

Maher, a designer who identifies as gender fluid, investigates gender through design media. Maher dissected issues of the Dutch magazine FRAME to reveal perpetuated stereotypes of “male” and “female”—from article titles to depictions of men and women designers.

Maher explained how designers direct people’s self-presentation—through clothing that accentuates body shape, or through the act of sitting, in which people claim or relinquish space.

In one of the night’s most repeated and tweeted statements, Maher declared, “Design is inherently genderless but it is designers who create gendered objects.”

The presentations wrapped with a moderated conversation led by NMWA Director of Public Programs Lorie Mertes. Rawsthorn and Maher explored ways that design could become more inclusive—from genderless bathroom signage to TSA body scanners (which are based on an algorithm for male or female forms). The speakers reflected on cultures that embrace and revere multiple concepts of gender. Both pondered how the internet can be a tool for change.

Fresh Talk speakers with guests during Catalyst cocktail hour; Photos: Kevin Allen

FRESH TALK speakers with guests during Catalyst cocktail hour; Photos: Kevin Allen

At Catalyst, a cocktail hour with a topic and a twist, guests became impassioned participants in a conversation sparked by the presentations. They became friends with fellow attendees, discussed perspectives, and focused on actionable steps for change. Here are a few highlights:

1. Seeing the world with new eyes.

Guests felt more aware of their built environments. They began to consider how the world is constructed and how design can create obstacles for gender-fluid people.

2. Empathy is the name of the game.

Attendees introduced themselves and shared details of their identities—which many had never considered aloud. Guests gained a greater understanding of the LGBTQ community, discussed how gender stereotypes are ingrained, and considered the impact of gender labels.

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Left and right: Participants discuss gender and ideas for change; Photos: Kevin Allen

3. Your ideas for social change matter.

Guests were surprised to have such meaningful conversations about the world from inside a museum. Instead of a traditional Q&A, guests provided their own strategies for change. Via comment cards, they completed the phrase “My idea of social change is…”

  • “discuss, discuss, discuss.”
  • “acceptance. Great event!”
  • “to be inclusive.”
  • “looking for new spaces and forums for conversation and questioning.”

The conversation continues online with #FreshTalk4Change. Visit the museum’s website to watch event videos. The recordings of FRESH TALK: Can design be genderless? will be available soon.

Don’t miss the next program, FRESH TALK: Natalie Jeremijenko, Wednesday, March 2. Artist and engineer Natalie Jeremijenko teams up with Jean Case and Megan Smith to discuss “Can an artist use science and technology to heal the environment?”

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

5 Fast Facts: Eva Zeisel

Impress your friends with five fast facts about designer Eva Zeisel (1906–2011), whose work is on view in Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today through February 28, 2015.

Eva Zeisel (1906–2011)

Installation view of Eva Zeisel’s ceramics in Pathmakers

Installation view of Eva Zeisel’s ceramics in Pathmakers

1. Journeywoman

Hungarian-born Zeisel made a name for herself in Germany and Russia before settling in America in 1937. Early in her career, she apprenticed with a master potter and became the first female “journeyman” in the Hungarian Guild of Chimney Sweeps, Oven Makers, Roof Tilers, Well Diggers, and Potters.

2. Hazing Before Glazing

Zeisel’s Ted Talk recalled the “welcome” present she received on the first day of her job in a male-dominated Hamburg pottery shop. “Colleagues thoughtfully put on [my] wheel . . . a very nicely modeled natural man’s organs.” Zeisel’s blasé removal of it from her workstation garnered the attention and respect of her coworkers.

3. For the Birds

While most of Zeisel’s curvilinear designs recall the human body and intimate interpersonal interactions, she also created works that evoked Hungarian folk art birds.

Installation view of Eva Zeisel’s ceramics in Pathmakers

Installation view of Eva Zeisel’s ceramics in Pathmakers

4. Household Name

In 1942, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Castleton China commissioned Zeisel to create modern china for mass production. Her resulting designs were featured in MoMA’s first one-woman exhibition. Zeisel’s works have since been sold by Red Wing Pottery, Hall China Company, Crate and Barrel, and Design Within Reach.

5. Shmoo Who?

 Zeisel’s “Town and Country” line for Red Wing Pottery included biomorphic salt and pepper shakers sometimes referred to as “Shmoos.” These pieces share the name and shape of cartoon creatures developed by Al Capp. Capp’s Shmoos are gentle, low-maintenance beings who reproduce quickly and are considered delicacies.

—Addie Gayoso is associate educator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Patterned Pathmakers

Dynamic women designers and artists from the mid-20th century and today create innovative designs, maintain craft traditions, and incorporate new aesthetics into fine art in Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today, now on view at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Each week, compare and draw parallels between works on view in Pathmakers and NMWA collection favorites.

On view in Pathmakers

Dorothy Liebes, Prototype Theatre Curtain for DuPont Pavilion

Liebes’s work in Pathmakers represents her skill in fusing natural and synthetic materials into colorful, cutting-edge textiles. Her innovative, custom-designed modern fabrics appealed to prominent architects and her mass-produced designs modernized the textile industry.

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Dorothy Liebes, Prototype theater curtain for DuPont Pavilion, New York World’s Fair, 1964; DuPont Orlon and Fairtex metallic yarn, 99 1/2 x 46 3/4 in.; Museum of Arts and Design; Gift of Dorothy Liebes Design, through the American Craft Council, 1973; Photo by Eva Heyd

Who made it?

Hailed as the “mother of modern weaving,” Dorothy Liebes (1897–1972) taught herself to weave on a small handloom while in college. She began designing textiles in the 1930s and became one of the first American artists to adapt her weaving techniques into mass production. After opening a studio in San Francisco in 1930, Liebes designed custom textiles for leading architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright.

Paving the way for women designers like Hella Jongerius, Liebes was commissioned to design textiles for the United Nations headquarters. The Museum of Modern Art regularly exhibited her work and she received the 1970 American Craft Council Gold Medal.

How was it made?

In the late 1940s and early ’50s, Liebes’s focus shifted from custom weaving to working with industry. She became known for her revolutionary combinations of natural and synthetic materials. Prototype Theatre Curtain for DuPont Pavilion was commissioned during her 20-year relationship with the DuPont chemical company. Liebes helped DuPont promote the image of manufactured fiber by making it look like a familiar natural material. The curtain in Pathmakers is exemplary of Liebes’s trademark combinations of color and industrial materials. A single panel of fabric, the work contains repeating vertical stripes in luminous shades of green and blue and shimmering strands of metallic thread. Through integrating unusual materials, such as sequins and nylon fibers, Liebes created bold, vibrant textiles.

Collection connection

Joana Vasconcelos, Viriato, 2005; Faience dog, handmade cotton crochet, 29 1/2 x 17 3/4 x 15 3/4 in.; Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, DC

Joana Vasconcelos, Viriato, 2005; Faience dog, handmade cotton crochet, 29 1/2 x 17 3/4 x 15 3/4 in.; Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, DC

In NMWA’s collection, Viriato by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos (b. 1971) also melds consumer culture with craft forms. Named after a first-century leader of Portugal, Viriato consists of a ceramic dog covered in an intricate crocheted cotton yarn—in shades similar to those found in Liebes’s curtain. Eye-catching and unconventional, the needlework obstructs the dog sculpture beneath.

Vasconcelos examines consumer culture through works that cross the boundary between “high” and “low” art. She often envelops everyday items in crocheted or knitted materials. Through integrating a mass-produced, decorative sculpture with traditional crochet, Vasconcelos reveals the conflict between handcrafted and manufactured.

Visit the museum and explore Pathmakers, on view through February 28, 2016.

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

Blurring Boundaries: Contemporary Design

“Design has had one unwavering role as an agent of change” incorporating new developments—in science, technology, or culture—for the better, says Alice Rawsthorn, design critic for the international edition of the New York Times.

Gabriel Maher, Courtesy of Alwin Poiana

Gabriel Maher, Courtesy of Alwin Poiana

What kind of impact will the gender-queer design discussion continue to have? Can genderless design help move contemporary society and culture toward a more positive, welcoming, and safe environment?

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Genderless bathroom sign

Today, genderless, gender-queer, and gender-fluid identities have an increasing presence in mainstream consciousness. The New York Times stated, “2015 was the year unisex became a trend in fashion”—citing Louis Vuitton’s latest women’s wear ad campaign featuring Jaden Smith as a key example. The article also declares, “gender definitions are as fluid as they have ever been,” but there are also increased “efforts to codify the new reality, be it on bathroom doors or in the language of institutions.”

On January 27, as part of the museum’s Women, Arts, and Social Change initiative, artist Gabriel Ann Maher and Alice Rawsthorn continue the discussion surrounding the question “Can design be genderless?”

Netherlands-based designer Gabriel Ann Maher is one of the contemporary artists represented in the special exhibition Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today, on view at the museum through February 28. Maher will discuss fluid gender identity as an artistic subject. Maher’s video work DE___SIGN examines the ways in which design shapes concepts of “male” and “female” and reveals how gestures, movements, and positions can imply gender norms.

Alice Rawsthorn, Courtesy of The New York Times Company

Alice Rawsthorn, Courtesy of The New York Times Company

Rawsthorn joins Maher for a presentation and discussion. Of Maher’s work, Rawsthorn says, “At a time of renewed interest in feminism and growing awareness of transgenderism, designers are striving to imbue products, graphics, environments and technology with subtler, more eclectic interpretations of gender both in commercial projects and conceptual ones like Maher’s.”

FRESH TALK: Can design be genderless? considers these questions and more on January 27. Attend the event in person or tune in remotely for the live-stream video feed. You can also add your voice on Twitter by using the hashtag #FreshTalk4Change.

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

Puzzling Pathmakers

Dynamic women designers and artists from the mid-20th century and today create innovative designs, maintain craft traditions, and incorporate new aesthetics into fine art in Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today, now on view at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Each week, compare and draw parallels between works on view in Pathmakers and NMWA collection favorites.

On view in Pathmakers

Anni Albers, Orange Meander, 1970

Orange Meander’s dense and repetitive patterning calls to mind Albers’s textile works. Her abstract prints focus on geometric formal qualities—thick, straight lines and bold, flat colors. Their meanings are intentionally obscure. The electric orange of the print catches the eye, inviting the viewer to meander within a maze of lines.

Anni Albers, Orange Meander, 1970; Paper and ink, 28 x 24 in.; Museum of Arts and Design, Gift of the artist, through the American Craft Council, 1982; Photo credit Ed Watkins

Anni Albers, Orange Meander, 1970; Paper and ink, 28 x 24 in.; Museum of Arts and Design, Gift of the artist, through the American Craft Council, 1982; Photo credit Ed Watkins

Who made it?

German artist Anni Albers (1899–1994) is primarily known for her work in the textile arts—particularly weaving. She studied textiles at the Bauhaus, a German art and design school, after being turned away from other departments due to her gender. After the Bauhaus closed in 1933, Albers and her husband Josef Albers took teaching positions at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. In 1949 she exhibited at the first textile show in the Museum of Modern Art’s history. In addition to her fine art, she created fabric patterns that could be mass produced and wrote two influential books in her field, On Weaving (1965) and On Designing (1959).

How was it made?

In 1963, Albers began experimenting with printmaking at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles. By 1970, she moved away from textiles and focused on lithography and screen printing—the technique used to create Orange Meander. Color was an integral element in her weavings as well as her prints. Albers noted, “Color . . . involves you in an emotional sense far beyond line.” One of a series of similar prints in different colors, Orange Meander’s bold rectilinear pattern is layered over a second, lighter arrangement, creating an optical dynamism. Lacking a focal point, the asymmetrical design presents several visual points of entry.

Collection Connection

Valerie Jaudon, Ingomar, 1979; Oil and metallic paint on canvas, 80 x 72 in.; NMWA, Gift of Josephine Cockrell Thornton; © Valerie Jaudon; Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Valerie Jaudon, Ingomar, 1979; Oil and metallic paint on canvas, 80 x 72 in.; NMWA, Gift of Josephine Cockrell Thornton; © Valerie Jaudon; Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

In NMWA’s collection, Valerie Jaudon’s Ingomar (1979) likewise takes its inspiration from decorative patterns. Jaudon was associated with the Pattern and Decoration movement of the 1970s, which sought to challenge the long-held belief that the fine arts were superior to the decorative or “feminine” arts.

Jaudon engages with abstraction through decorative motifs. In an effort to discourage the perception of narrative in her works, Jaudon titled her paintings during the 1970s after towns in her home state of Mississippi. Drawing ornamentation from diverse periods and cultures, Ingomar resembles Celtic or Islamic designs. The metallic paint and vigorous brushstrokes in the painting contrast with the exacting and controlled feeling of the precise pattern. This visual puzzle welcomes viewers in, inviting a closer examination of its shimmering surface.

Visit the museum and explore Pathmakers, on view through February 28, 2016.

—Marina MacLatchie was the fall 2015 education and digital engagement intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.