Art Fix Friday: April 21, 2017

Polish sculptor and fiber artist Magdalena Abakanowicz passed away today at the age of 86. Abakanowicz was best known for her monumental woven forms referred to as “Abakans.”

The New York Times delves into the beginning of the artist’s career, her life during World War II, and her most memorable works. Her work 4 Seated Figures (2002) in NMWA’s collection blends her personal memories with her broader vision of a modern world shaped by war and political upheaval. In her description of the figures, Abakanowicz said, “They are naked, exposed, and vulnerable, just as we all are.”

Front-Page Femmes

University of New Mexico College of Fine Arts interviewed Border Crossing artist Jami Porter Lara.

The Atlantic explores the incentives and funding for women in STEM. The article asks, “Has the push toward STEM inadvertently stymied women in the arts and humanities?”

Kara Walker discusses working in the public eye, her oeuvre, and persisting issues surrounding racism.

Carolee Schneemann recieves the 57th Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement award.

Keltie Ferris covered herself in oil and pigment and repeatedly imprinted her body on paper.

Judith F. Baca’s mural The History of California presents history from the perspectives of the state’s underrepresented residents.

Allie Wist’s fictional photo essay features a dinner party menu at a time when climate change has altered diets.

More than 6,500 women artists are featured in new or expanded Wikipedia pages after the Art + Feminism Edit-a-Thons last month.

Ivette Cabrera explores the discrepancies in the ways society views and portrays women.

Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order) celebrates women artists who have previously been omitted from art history texts.

Sharon Lockhart collaborated with teen girls from Poland in translating youth-focused newspapers produced by orphans between 1926 and 1939.

Diane Arbus’s early works depicting city life in the mid-1950s through early 1960s capture youth and entertainment through the eyes of a spectator.

American soprano and Shenson performer Nadine Sierra won the prestigious 2017 Richard Tucker Award, which comes with a cash prize of $50,000 and a gala concert.

Shows We Want to See

Hyperallergic writes that the exhibition Marisa Merz: The Sky Is a Great Space is “as captivating and shrewd as the artist’s tiny scarpetta.” artnet explores one of Merz’s works on view at Met Breur, Bea, made in honor of Merz’s eight-year-old daughter Beatrice.

The inaugural exhibition at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Art features work by Dana Awartani, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Zarina Hashmi, and Nasreen Mohamedi.

Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction at MoMA offers an alternate history of abstraction through work by women artists, including Alma Thomas, Lee Krasner, Anni Albers, Agnes Martin, and Joan Mitchell.

Liz Nurenberg’s exhibition encourages audiences to directly interact with her work, creating a tactile experience that allows the imagination to take over.

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

Recent Acquisitions at the LRC: Richenda Cunningham’s Letter

The next time you visit NMWA, come to the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center (LRC) to see new books on art, as well as reference books, artists’ books, and more!

Richenda Cunningham, Temple of Caius & Lucius Caesar, or Maison Carre (from the series "Nine Views Taken on the Continent"), ca. 1830; Lithograph on paper, 13 x 16 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Richenda Cunningham, Temple of Caius & Lucius Caesar, or Maison Carre (from the series “Nine Views Taken on the Continent”), ca. 1830; Lithograph on paper, 13 x 16 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

The LRC recently acquired an original letter from British printer Richenda (Gurney) Cunningham (1782–1855). Her lithographic portfolio of travel prints “Nine Views Taken on the Continent” (ca. 1830) resides in the museum’s collection and was on view in the 2011 exhibition The Art of Travel: Picturesque Views of Europe by Richenda Cunningham.

“Nine Views” consists of nine 13-by-16 inch prints that were drawn by Cunningham and produced by prominent English lithograph printer Charles Joseph Hullmandel. The series includes drawings of landscapes and tourist locales such as Provence and the Rhineland, which Cunningham visited when touring Europe in 1815.

Cunningham was greatly influenced by Romanticism, a pervasive movement sweeping England in the 18th and 19th centuries that encouraged a love of nature and travel. Cunningham’s “Nine Views” could be compared to other popular travelogue-style lithographs  from the time. The artist included visually enticing elements of rugged landscapes for embellishment. Her lithographs were likely produced in the 1820s and 1830s, before lithography became a more commercial practice in the mid-century.

Richenda Cunningham, Villar, Valley of Luzerne, Piedmont (from the series "Nine Views Taken on the Continent"), ca. 1830; Lithograph on paper, 13 x 16 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Richenda Cunningham, Villar, Valley of Luzerne, Piedmont (from the series “Nine Views Taken on the Continent”), ca. 1830; Lithograph on paper, 13 x 16 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Cunningham’s prints were in such high enough demand that they had to be re-printed several times, evident from the letter, which is a response to a request for more prints by a patron, Ms. Thompson. This letter shows Cunningham dealing with her own business transactions as a professional artist. In the letter Cunningham “takes the liberty of charging” Ms. Thompson with two more copies of her prints, then politely invites her to the artist’s home “should any circumstances lead [Ms. Thompson] into our neighborhood.” This letter is both a business record and a piece of personal correspondence, helping us to better understand the daily interactions of a woman artist in the 19th century.

Letter from Richenda Cunningham to Ms. Thompson. Dated September 21, 18--. Betty Boyd Library & Research Center, National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Letter from Richenda Cunningham to Ms. Thompson. Dated September 21, 18–. Betty Boyd Library and Research Center, National Museum of Women in the Arts.

The LRC is always thrilled to acquire primary source material concerning artists represented in the museum’s collection. This letter is particularly interesting because there is so little known about the details of Cunningham’s life.

All are welcome to view this letter in the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. If you’re touring the museum’s exhibitions, the library is open to the public and makes a great starting point on the fourth floor. In addition to beautiful books and comfortable chairs, library visitors enjoy interesting exhibitions that feature archival manuscripts, personal papers by women artists, rare books, and artists’ books. Reference Desk staff members are always happy to answer questions and offer assistance. Open Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–12 p.m. and 1–5 p.m.

—Lauren Redding is the spring 2017 intern in the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: April 14, 2017

The Guardian reports that artist Gillian Wearing will be first woman to create a statue for London’s Parliament Square. Wearing will create a monument of suffragist Millicent Fawcett.

“Millicent Fawcett was an incredible woman and by honoring her in Parliament Square I believe she will continue to inspire generations to come,” said Wearing.

Front-Page Femmes

Hyperallergic reviews Border Crossing and applauds Jami Porter Lara’s ability to transform the idea of the water bottle into something culturally significant and deeply symbolic.

This year, for the first time Pulitzer Prize for Music’s 74-year history, all three finalists were women.

Malika Favre’s animated cover illustration for The New Yorker sparked a challenge for women surgeons to replicate the image in real life.

Artsy celebrates ten women Bauhaus members as the school’s 100th anniversary approaches.

“I’m interested in the experiential quality of a large painting,” says Mary Weatherford. “Gigantic paintings that one can relate to with one’s body rather than with one’s eyes or mind.”

“As an artist [Anicka Yi] is distinguished by sculpting in scents,” writes Cultured Magazine.

Ekin Onat’s project for the Venice Biennale sensationally exposes police brutality and political revolt in Turkey.

Tracey Emin helped the U.K.’s National Portrait Gallery purchase her 2002 “death mask.”

Sarah Lucas plans weekend events with titles including “One Thousand Eggs” and “Bunny Action Painting.”

The Washington Post explores how many Bollywood films tackle gender inequality and women’s experiences, but only few do so in women’s voices.

Artist Rachel Owens spent months casting different parts of the Alley Pond Giant, the oldest living organism in New York City.

Shannon May Mackenzie’s documentary Rotatio shows the artist processing her rape through a work she created and destroyed.

The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers details what was asked of women during World War I.

Hyperallergic discusses the remarkable films of Anne Marie Miéville.

Dinner with Georgia O’Keeffe: Recipes, Art, and Landscape gives readers new insight into the famed artist’s world and a chance to see the ways in which O’Keeffe connected food and art.

Shows We Want to See

In her first solo exhibition in the U.S., conceptual artist Martine Syms will immerse MoMA visitors in her works, which explore notions of blackness, feminism, queer theory, and language.

Power, a group show of 37 African American female artists at Sprüth Magers in Los Angeles, unites generations of artists across mediums through their stories and subject matter.

A retrospective of Alice Neel’s work at David Zwirner Gallery reveals the artist’s ability to portray the depth and humanity of each of her subjects.

Hans Ulrich Obrist reveals the late Maria Lassnig’s fascination with mythology and antiquity in a new exhibition of never-before-shown watercolors.

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

Happy Birthday, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard!

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (1749–1803) was a celebrated female artist in 18th-century France. Labille-Guiard’s artistic career was hindered by the changes in power surrounding the French Revolution and was somewhat restricted due to her gender, but she was also awarded unusual opportunities.

Labille-Guiard received formal training under a family friend, François-Elie Vincent, because women were not allowed in the classrooms of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. Society deemed it improper for women to learn alongside men. She trained as a miniaturist, and in 1774, at the age of 25, Labille-Guiard exhibited two works at the Salon. Three years later, she broke gender norms by painting in oils, which she learned from François-André Vincent, the son of her former instructor.

Labille-Guiard was admitted to the Royal Academy on May 31, 1783—the same day as Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun. Because both women were primarily portraitists they were cast as competitors, but this was likely not the case, as they had little interaction besides their involvement in Academy Salons. The Royal Academy limited membership to four women at a time, so the simultaneous admission of two women caused controversy among members who did not support the inclusion of women. With the admission of Labille-Guiard and Vigée-LeBrun, the Academy reached its quota for women artists, together with the portrait and still-life painter Anne Vallayer-Coster and miniaturist Marie-Thérèse Reboul Vien. Labille-Guiard signed the Academy’s register as “Adélaïde des Vertues” to represent the fact that women artists risked upsetting societal expectations, which held that virtuous women belonged solely to the private, domestic sphere.

Her admittance to the Academy, commissions from Louis XVI’s sisters, and the creation of her masterpiece Self Portrait with Two Pupils (1785) increased her reputation and popularity, despite rumors spread by critics following her Academy debut. However, her career faced challenges that would slow her momentum as the French Revolution progressed. Radicals shamed Labille-Guiard for her association with the Paris elite and their lavish lifestyles. Prominent painter Jacques-Louis David did not approve of women in the Academy, and Labille-Guiard fell further out of favor. At this point, a government committee ordered her to submit works, including her largest painting, to be burned.

Labille-Guiard left Paris for the countryside as the Reign of Terror worsened. She did not abandon her painting during this time, continuing to teach students who fled with her. She eventually returned to Paris, but was unable to return to prominence under the new government. Despite working during a time of social and political upheaval, the life and career of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard is one of opportunity and strength, as she was allowed entry into the Academy in recognition of her talents, and continued to practice as an artist despite oppressive radical forces.

Meghan Masius is the spring 2017 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Down to a Science: #5WomenArtists Spark #5WomenScientists

For Women’s History Month, NMWA posed the question, “Can you name five women artists?” While social media users shared stories of women artists with #5WomenArtists, other science museums and cultural institutions expanded the challenge by posting content about #5WomenScientists.

Maria Merian, Plate 9 (from "Dissertation in Insect Generations and Metamorphosis in Surinam", second edition), 1719; Hand-colored engraving on paper, 20 1/4 x 14 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Maria Merian, Plate 9 (from “Dissertation in Insect Generations and Metamorphosis in Surinam,” second edition), 1719; Hand-colored engraving on paper, 20 1/4 x 14 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Art and science are two fields which seamlessly overlap. Both encourage close observation, experimentation, and innovation. Women are often overlooked and underrepresented in both fields. NMWA features a collection of works by women artist-scientists.

Because of their purported keen powers of observation, women artists historically were encouraged to render the natural world. After studying dried specimens of plants and animals that were popular with European collectors, botanical illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717) decided to study them in their natural habitats. At the age of 52, Merian and her younger daughter embarked on a dangerous trip, without a male chaperone, to the Dutch colony of Surinam in South America. She spent two years studying indigenous flora and fauna. Her book, the lavishly illustrated Insects of Surinam, was published in 1705 and established Merian’s international reputation.

As tools for observation became more advanced, photography emerged as a new medium to explore, record, and interpret nature. Molecular biologist-turned-photographer Amy Lamb (b. 1944) continues the tradition of women artist-scientists by producing large-scale “portraits” of plants. For Lamb, observation is a vital part of her creative process. She grows most of the plants that she photographs, which allows her to become intimately familiar with their life cycles. Studying plant maturation repeatedly helps her anticipate when to have the camera ready.

Amy Lamb, “Magnolia,” 1998, Iris print, 13 1/4 in x 20 1/8 in; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, Maryland, in honor of the artist, ©1998 Amy Lamb, all rights reserved

Amy Lamb, Magnolia, 1998, Iris print, 13 1/4 in x 20 1/8 in; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, Maryland, in honor of the artist, ©1998 Amy Lamb, all rights reserved

The influence of science is a common thread in NMWA’s collection. Floral still-life paintings by Rachel Ruysch (1664–1750), cliché-verre prints by Maggie Foskett (1919–2014), and etchings by Monika E. de Vries Gohlke (b. 1940) engage with science and nature. Angela Strassheim (b. 1969), trained in forensic photography, lends a scientific eye to her oeuvre, while Michal Rovner (b. 1957) simulates the feeling of a laboratory through a video work involving petri dishes.

Continue exploring the stories of women artist-scientists. Browse a selection of #5WomenScientists posts from institutions ranging from the Field Museum, to the Biodiversity Heritage Library, the Franklin Institute, and the Science Museum, London.

—Madeline Barnes is the winter/spring 2017 digital engagement intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Creating Contemporary Artifacts in “Border Crossing”

Now on view at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Border Crossing: Jami Porter Lara presents recent work by Albuquerque-based artist Jami Porter Lara (b. 1969), who hand-builds and pit-fires clay sculptures resembling a ubiquitous icon of modern life—the plastic bottle.

The shapes and titles of Porter Lara’s sculptures reflect her interest in the artifacts of contemporary culture.

Installation view of Border Crossing: Jami Porter Lara; Photo: Lee Stalsworth

Installation view of Border Crossing: Jami Porter Lara; Photo: Lee Stalsworth

Form and Function

Jami Porter Lara uses ancient techniques to create her work, and she combines references to the contemporary plastic bottle with references to other vessels that humans have used throughout time. She says, “I was interested in something that might be evocative of a gourd-shape, and, of course, gourds were one of the earliest vessels used by humans. I was also making things that referred to more classical forms like the amphora, again trying to make a connection between the contemporary plastic bottle and the most ancient of iconic vessels in human history.”

Some of her vessels have human or anthropomorphic qualities: “The top of the vessel’s neck is like a little head, its bottom is evocative of feet, and any kind of narrowing in the center is like a waist. Just as that gourd shape made me think of the connection to our shared human history of using gourds as vessels, the figurative pieces have a similar message about the continuity between what’s natural and what’s human and what’s technological.”

Jami Porter Lara, LDS-MHB-WVBR-0416CE-08, 2016; Pit-fired clay, 11 x 10 x 3 1/2 in.; On loan from Debra Baxter, Photo by Addison Doty

Jami Porter Lara, LDS-MHB-WVBR-0416CE-08, 2016; Pit-fired clay, 11 x 10 x 3 1/2 in.; On loan from Debra Baxter, Photo by Addison Doty

What’s in a title?

Many of Porter Lara’s works have titles such as LDS-MHB-WVBR-0416CE-08. She borrowed her titling system from the field of archaeology, in which objects are identified by a series of numbers and letters that convey information such as where an item was found and when it was unearthed.

  • The letters in the first section refer to where the object was made. In this example, “LDS” stands for Los Duranes Studio, the name Porter Lara has given her home studio.
  • The first two letters in the second section indicate where Porter Lara harvested her clay. Here, “MH” refers to Magdalena Highway, the unofficial name of the nearby route US 60. The third letter of this section refers to the color of clay. “B” stands for “buff” or “beige.”
  • In the third section, the first letters relate to nicknames Porter Lara gives her pieces. In this example, “WV” stands for “Wedding Vase,” a double-spouted vase common in Pueblo pottery.
  • The second half of the third section refers to the process Porter Lara used to create the work. “B” indicates a work was burnished, and “R” stands for “reduced,” the firing method.
  • The fourth section of the title is the date on which the work was fired. In this example: April 2016 of the Common Era (CE).
  • The last section indicates which iteration of a shape this object is. This example is the eighth vessel Porter Lara made in this particular shape.

Visit the museum to see Border Crossing: Jami Porter Lara, on view through May 14. Learn more through the audio guide and meet Jami Porter Lara at the museum for a special Artists in Conversation program on April 6, 2017.

Adapted from text by Virginia Treanor, associate curator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: March 31, 2017

For the last week of Women’s History Month, museums and arts organization shared content for NMWA’s #5WomenArtists campaign with renewed vigor.

Many institutions, including the Phillips Collection, the Jewish Museum, Des Moines Art Center, the Barrick Museum, and Albright-Knox Art Gallery featured women artists through blog posts. The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston even hosted a discussion with five local South Carolina-based artists.

PBS News Hour shared the #5WomenArtists challenge. Museum professionals Melissa Mohr and Claire Kovacs started a half-hour Gallery Gap podcast focusing on underrepresented populations in art institutions around the world, including a discussion of #5WomenArtists.

Front-Page Femmes

Smithsonian Magazine delves into the life and career of French sculptor Camille Claudel and the new museum in France dedicated to her influence as an artist.

Zoe Buckman’s exhibition Imprison Her Soft Hand challenges the ways that society views and treats women’s bodies.

Olfactory artist Anicka Yi says her heightened sense of smell “comes from a will and desire to develop my perception.”

Leonora Carrington’s cousin recounts her meetings with the artist during the last years of Carrington’s life.

Artist Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle drew 100 drawings “un-portraits,” which evoke black women who have gone missing.

Vogue interviews Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

Scarlett Hooft Graafland travels to remote locations and creates photographs “full of droll humor and surrealist flourishes.”

Tate Modern’s Switch House features a new installation by 83-year-old Japanese fog-sculptor Fujiko Nakaya.

Arleene Correa discusses her art school experience as an undocumented immigrant, and the effect her immigration status has on her work.

Indonesia-based watercolor artist Elicia Edijanto depicts children and wildlife against black watercolor backdrops.

In her illustrious of women immersed almost completely underwater, Spanish artist Sonia Alins creates “a haunting tension.”

Zehra Doğan has been sentenced to two years and ten months in prison for her painting depicting Turkish flags on buildings destroyed in a military attack.

Designer Helga Dögg reflects on the gender imbalance in Iceland’s graphic design industry.

#ThanksForTyping started a conversation online about the uncredited women in academia.

Artsy charts the progress of the Art+Feminism initiative over the last few years.

NPR interviews Chicago-based illustrator Emil Ferris about first graphic novel, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters.

Shows We Want to See

We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85 will open at the Brooklyn Museum on April 21. The exhibition examines the political, social, cultural, and aesthetic priorities of women of color during the emergence of second-wave feminism.

Through “warping the perceived roles and aesthetics of everyday objects, Jes Fan makes space for marginalized identities and conversations,” writes Hyperallergic. No Clearance in the Niche is on view at the Museum of Arts and Design through April 30.

Lynn Hershman Leeson’s work in performance, new media, and film from the last 50 years gains recognition in shows around the country.

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

Art Fix Friday: March 24, 2017

The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) released the Gender Gap Report 2017, revealing some incremental improvements since the 2013 survey, as well as persisting inequities.

For example, the report found that “less than half of directorships at art museums were held by women, and that their salaries were lower, especially at the largest museums.” There has been slight improvement, in that women at larger museums, previously earning 70 cents to the male dollar, now earn 75.

Front-Page Femmes

Inspired by NMWA’s #5WomenArtists campaign, the Huffington Post discusses the gender gap with women artists working in various creative fields.

New York Magazine’s The Cut asks women in the arts about which artists have had the greatest impact on their lives. Read part one and part two.

Artsy features eight women art historians who have played an important role in the field.

Lalla Essaydi appropriates the imagery and style of Orientalist painters to break stereotypes.

Rachel Sussman’s Cosmic Microwave Mandala “required two weeks to create—and seconds to destroy.”

Sculptor Dineo Seshee Bopape received the 2017 Future Generation Art Prize.

Hyperallergic writes that “reduce, reuse, recycle” is a “fitting motto” for Agnès Varda’s work.

Girl Power Meetups and NMWA’s series of Fresh Talks provide space and opportunities for women to share their projects and feel empowered.

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh asks followers to expand on her anti-street harassment series “Stop Telling Women to Smile.”

Tracey Moffatt says, “My work is often based on fact or personal family history but it never stays there.”

The Center for Women’s History opens to the public in New York City on April 29.

Dana Schutz’s painting Open Casket causes controversy at the 2017 Whitney Biennial.

Abigail Reynolds traveled to 16 locations along the Silk Road to document sites of libraries, which have since been destroyed or abandoned over the centuries.

The Guardian shares Camille Claudel’s poignant sculptures.

A 25-year-long project involving Sophie Calle will invite Green-Wood cemetery visitors to write down their confessions, knowing that every few years the secrets will be cremated.

Poet Adjua Greaves makes impromptu revisions as part of her performance process.

Comedian Negin Farsad performs “social justice comedy.”

Choreographer Trisha Brown died at the age of 80.

Khadijah Queen’s new collection of poems gathers her firsthand accounts of run-ins with male celebrities.

Bustle shares nine recently published books by Latinx authors.

Shows We Want to See

Works by Colombian artist Adriana Martínez, on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, deal with topical issues including “information trading, garbage, globalization, and the end of the world.”

The Baltimore Museum of Art showcases five sculptural towers by Anne Truitt.

Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing, on view at the Oakland Museum of California, features about 100 photographs by Lange, including vintage prints and proof sheets.

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

Grounds for Friendship: Maria Martinez and Laura Gilpin

The exhibition New Ground: The Southwest of Maria Martinez and Laura Gilpin explores how potter Maria Martinez (ca. 1887–1980) and photographer Laura Gilpin (1891–1979) brought the American Southwest into focus as a culturally rich region that fostered artistic expression. Martinez and Gilpin were friends in New Mexico over many decades. The artworks in this exhibition overlap in content and display to underscore the artists’ relationship with each other, which transcended boundaries of place and culture.

Laura Gilpin, Maria Martinez Making Pottery, 1959; Gelatin silver print, 10 ¾ x 14 ½ in.; Eugene B. Adkins Collection at Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, and Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma, Norman (left) and Fred E. Mang, Jr.,Laura Gilpin taking photographs along dirt road, 1971; Reproduction of gelatin silver print; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Gift of the artist and Laura Gilpin P1979.98; ©1971 Fred E. Mang, Jr. (right)

Left to right: Laura Gilpin, Maria Martinez Making Pottery, 1959; Gelatin silver print, 10 ¾ x 14 ½ in.; Eugene B. Adkins Collection at Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, and Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma, Norman; and Fred E. Mang, Jr., Laura Gilpin taking photographs along dirt road, 1971; Reproduction of gelatin silver print; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Gift of the artist and Laura Gilpin P1979.98; ©1971 Fred E. Mang, Jr.

Gilpin first got to know Martinez and other Pueblo and Navajo people through her lifelong companion, Betsy Forster.

Laura Gilpin, Women Returning from a Trip to the Trading Post, 1950; Gelatin silver print; Eugene B. Adkins Collection at Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, and Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma, Norman

Laura Gilpin, Women Returning from a Trip to the Trading Post, 1950; Gelatin silver print; Eugene B. Adkins Collection at Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, and Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma, Norman

In 1930, Forster and Gilpin moved from Colorado to New Mexico, where Gilpin planned to photograph the rugged terrain. Forster became a field nurse with the New Mexico Association on Indian Affairs, a position through which she—and Gilpin—became intimately connected to the local population.

Laura Gilpin frequently photographed artists in the process of creating rugs, jewelry, and pottery. Over the years, Gilpin photographed Maria Martinez and her family during the many stages of making pottery, from processing raw clay to shaping bowls and jars, painting decoration, and even firing the pieces. Gilpin never photographed anyone without their permission, and she frequently formed relationships with her subjects. Her documentary prints are intimate portraits that capture the personalities and detailed features of her individual sitters.

For Maria Martinez, relationships with family, community members, friends, and people from the art world were a guiding force throughout her life.

Maria Martinez and Popovi Da, Black-on-black olla, 1963; Polished blackware pottery with matte slip paint ; Eugene B. Adkins Collection at Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, and Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art University of Oklahoma, Norman

Maria Martinez and Popovi Da, Black-on-black olla, 1963; Polished blackware pottery with matte slip paint ; Eugene B. Adkins Collection at Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, and Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art University of Oklahoma, Norman

She learned pottery-making techniques from an aunt, and later added new methods as she collaborated with her husband and other family members. She collaborated with her husband, Julian, until his death in 1943, but she also worked with her sons—particularly Popovi Da—as well as daughters-in-law, and her grandson Tony Da, who was Popovi’s son. She also shared these processes with others, demonstrating her unique form of artwork in her home community and at art shows and expositions around the country. These collaborations cemented her legacy and lasting influence on Pueblo pottery.

Visit the museum and explore New Ground, on view through May 14, 2017.

Adapted from text by Virginia Treanor, associate curator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Christina Burke, curator of Native and non-Western art at the Philbrook Museum of Art, and Catherine Whitney, chief curator at the Philbrook Museum of Art.

5 Fast Facts: Loïs Mailou Jones

Impress your friends with five fast facts about Loïs Mailou Jones (1905–1998), whose work is on view in NMWA’s collection galleries.

1. Designing Woman

Loïs Mailou Jones began her career as a textile artist, designing drapery and upholstery fabrics for prestigious firms in Boston and New York. She incorporated traditional motifs, such as flowers and leaves, as well as more unusual Caribbean- and African-inspired imagery, in her designs.

Detail of Jones’s signature in Ode to Kinshasa

Detail of Jones’s signature in Ode to Kinshasa

2. What’s in a Name?

Jones lamented that the design world was mostly anonymous:[O]nly the name of the design printed on the borders of the fabric was known, never the name of the artist who created it. That bothered me because I was doing all this work, but not getting any recognition.” Consequently, she shifted her focus to painting—and signed every work.

3. Educator and Mentor

As a member of the art department at Howard University in Washington, D.C., from 1930 until 1977, Jones influenced several generations of African American artists, including Elizabeth Catlett, David Driskell, and Sylvia Snowden.

4. Out of Africa

Inspired by the Black Arts Movement, Jones documented contemporary African Diaspora art of Haiti, Africa, and the United States. She traveled to 11 African countries between 1970 and 1972, visiting studios and workshops, interviewing artists, and making thousands of slides of their work. These experiences also directly influenced the subjects and style of her future paintings.

5. Best of Friends

On her first trip to Paris in 1937, Jones began her lifelong friendship with French-born artist Céline Tabary (1908–1993). Tabary spent part of World War II living in Washington, D.C. During that time, she delivered Jones’s entry to the Society of Washington Artists exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art because African American artists were forbidden to participate.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­—Deborah Gaston is the director of education and digital engagement at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.