Now Open: Women Shape Design in “Pathmakers”

NMWA’s latest exhibition, Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today, is now open! Museum staff have been busy transforming the 2nd-floor galleries to display more than 80 objects including furniture, ceramics, textiles and jewelry. The exhibition explores the lasting impact of women artists and designers on midcentury Modernism through making groundbreaking commercial and industrial designs, maintaining craft traditions, and incorporating new aesthetics into fine art.

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Guest curator Jennifer Scanlan talks to members during Member Preview Day

In the 1950s and ’60s, an era when painting, sculpture, and architecture were dominated by men, women had considerable impact in alternative materials such as textiles, ceramics, and metals. Pioneers in these fields—including Ruth Asawa, Edith Heath, Sheila Hicks, Karen Karnes, Dorothy Liebes, Alice Kagawa Parrott, Lenore Tawney, and Eva Zeisel—had tremendous influence as designers, artists, and teachers.

Visitors explore prints by Anni Albers and a textile work by Marianne Strengell

Visitors explore prints by Anni Albers and a textile work by Marianne Strengell

Their artistic practices varied widely—some exhibited in New York City galleries, others took part in the regional handicraft scene in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and still others collaborated with corporations such as General Motors. Pathmakers also illustrates parallels between women creating work in the United States and Scandinavia, where craft often served as a pathway to Modernist innovation.

Guest curators Jennifer Scanlan and Ezra Shales also consider contemporary female artists and designers whose work builds upon that of their midcentury counterparts. Polly Apfelbaum and Michelle Grabner are represented by installations centered on woven and knitted patterns, while Anne Wilson’s work focuses on the processes of textile manufacture. Magdalene Odundo and Christine Nofchissey McHorse adapt traditional techniques and absorb influences from global sources. Furniture and fixture designers Vivian Beer, Front Design, and Hella Jongerius have also expanded the repertoire of making, while Gabriel A. Maher looks at the ways gender is constructed by the clothes we wear.

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A visitor studies Front’s Axor WaterDream/Axor Shower System

Pathmakers stresses the connections between midcentury and contemporary design and aesthetics,” said NMWA Associate Curator Virginia Treanor. “The installation will encourage the comparison of the modern and contemporary periods in a way that enables close inspection.”

Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today is on view through February 28, 2016. Visit this Sunday for a Free Community Day with a pop-up makerspace and enjoy noon gallery talks every Wednesday!

Art Fix Friday: August 14, 2015

Inmates at a women’s prison make art dedicated to female heroes. In a collective installation titled Shared Dining, a group of ten inmates created elaborate place settings dedicated to famous women who inspired the artists.

Wall Street Journal article calls the work, “a small refuge from the grim reality of incarceration.” Inspired by The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago, Shared Dining is on view at the Brooklyn Museum.

Front-Page Femmes

Western Australian artist Jukuja Dolly Snell wins the country’s most prestigious Indigenous art prize.

Mary Cassatt’s great-grandniece gives a Cassatt portrait of Col. Edward Buchanan—nicknamed “Grandpa”—to the National Gallery of Art.

ARTnews visits Nigerian artist Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze’s SoHo studio.

A sculpture by Phyllida Barlow is the first work in the new $750,000 fund for female artist acquisitions at the Nasher Sculpture Center.

The Huffington Post highlights 11 exceptional women artists—including Eva Hesse, Judy Chicago, Agnes Martin, and Kiki Smith.

Canadian artist Meryl McMaster uses blind contour drawings to sculpt wire masks.

The Huffington Post lists 8 female Dada artists who “shaped the trajectory of radical artmaking and radical feminism.”

Around 50 works from poet and author Maya Angelou’s collection will go to auction. The sale includes artwork by Faith Ringgold, Elizabeth Catlett, and Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe.

Hyperallergic explores Nicole Eisenman’s Seder at the Jewish Museum.

Sylvia Plath’s first job as a farm worker may have influenced her writing.

The Atlantic reviews the first full-length biography of famed author Joan Didion.

Stone Soup author Ann McGovern dies at the age of 85.

Cindy Sherman plays a character based on the opera singer Maria Callas in a new film.

Showtime adapts Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids for a TV series.

Less than a third of speaking roles in movies go to women.

Shows We Want to See

The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis will feature hand-woven, abstract fiber-based installation and sculptures from Sheila Hicks’s 60-year oeuvre.

Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty explores the artist’s hyper-real work as an “astute interpretation of our deepest impulses, compulsions, and fantasies.”

The first large-scale exhibition of Israeli artist Keren Cytter is on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

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