Art Fix Friday: June 23, 2017

Artsy publishes an article titled “Why Old Women Have Replaced Young Men as the Art World’s Darlings.”

Demand for work by older women artists has risen in recent years. Artsy explores demand from collectors, sexism, and gaps in the art historical canon. In one example, Galerie Lelong’s president discusses the success of Etel Adnan, and says, “But she wasn’t discovered; the venue finally matched her achievements.”

Front-Page Femmes

Brightest Young Things calls Revival “dangerous, whip smart, and thought provoking.”

Hyperallergic examines three books by Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington.

PBS News Hour recaps NMWA’s most recent Fresh Talk panel discussing the new superwomen of comics.

Juxtapoz interviews NMWA artist Amy Cutler.

“Born in 1799, Anna Atkins captured plants, shells and algae in ghostly wisps and ravishing blues,” writes the Guardian. “Why isn’t she famous?

Patricia Phelps de Cisneros donates 119 works of colonial art to Latin American-focused museums.

Brigette Zeiger creates a series of “virtual and spatial 3D images.”

Photographer Zanele Muholi’s portraits deal with social justice, human rights, and contested representations of the black body.

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez proposes the American Art Revival Act, which would offer loan forgiveness of up to $10,000 for arts students.

Katja Novitskova drastically enlarges images of bacteria for her sculptures in New York’s City Hall Park.

SaveArtSpace: The Future is Female will showcase work by women artists on advertising spaces across New York City.

Nasty Stitches explores how artists and curators use traditionally feminine craft forms to address feminist issues.

Ivana Bašić’s “unnerving” sculptures are inspired by Franz Kafka.

Mixed-media artist Sheba Chhachhi won the Prix Thun for Art and Ethics Award for her commitment to ecology and environmental issues.

NPR says Sofia Coppola’s new film, The Beguiled, “makes its watchers swoon.”

Shows We Want to See

Jenny Morgan’s portraits, on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, explore the contradictory relationship between life and death.

Anicka Yi: Life Is Cheap contains three works as part of Yi’s 2016 Hugo Boss Prize, on view at the Guggenheim Museum.

Suspended Territories, on view at the Marta Herford Museum for Art, Architecture, Design, features work by women artists from the Arab world, Iran, and North Africa.

LACMA will showcase Sarah Charlesworth’s photographic meditations in Doubleworld, on view from August 20 to November 26, 2017.

NSFW: Female Gaze, a new exhibition at the Museum of Sex in New York, exhibits works by more than 20 women artists who tackle sexuality, desire, and the female gaze.

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

Who Did Simone de Beauvoir Inspire?

In the installation From the Desk of Simone de Beauvoir, visitors can consider the influence and intellect of writer Simone de Beauvoir in an interpretation of her Paris studio alcove. Museum visitors can sit at a desk and read works that Beauvoir either read, wrote, or inspired. Beauvoir had an impact on women in her own time and she continues to hold a place of remarkable influence today.

Bettina Flitner, The studio of Simone de Beauvoir, rue Schoelcher 12 bis, Montparnasse, Paris, March 1986; Photograph; ©bettinaflitner.de

Bettina Flitner, The studio of Simone de Beauvoir, rue Schoelcher 12 bis, Montparnasse, Paris, March 1986; Photograph: ©bettinaflitner.de

Cover of Sexual Politics by Kate Millett, 1969

Cover of Sexual Politics by Kate Millett, 1969

Sexual Politics by Kate Millett, 1969

Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics was released in the U.S. in 1970 by Doubleday Books and is frequently cited alongside The Second Sex as an influential feminist text. Millett and Beauvoir became friends late in Beauvoir’s life, and the two spent substantial time together on Beauvoir’s final trip to New York, in 1983.

Beauvoir and Western Thought from Plato to Butler, 2012

This collection of essays delves into Beauvoir’s relationship with Western philosophical thought and her resistance to being defined as a philosopher. This book includes an autobiographical essay by feminist, activist, and teacher bell hooks, who closes with:

“Whereas I was once most attracted to her intellectual partnership with Sartre, I am now seduced by the awareness that no matter what her relationship was to him, or any partner, the true constant in her life was thinking, working with ideas, and being a philosopher in the truest sense of the word.”

Cover of the June/July 2016 issue of BUST

Cover of the June/July 2016 issue of BUST

BUST, “Kathleen Hanna: Rock’s Reigning Feminist,” June/July 2016

Kathleen Hanna helped establish the feminist hardcore punk rock genre riot grrrl, fronted the band Bikini Kill, and took part in the zine scene in the Pacific Northwest and Washington, D.C. When discussing her inspiration for writing lyrics, Hanna said, “I wouldn’t have lyrics if it weren’t for people like bell hooks. I wouldn’t have lyrics if it weren’t for people like Simone de Beauvoir and Shulamith Firestone, and other feminist writers.”

Diaries by Eva Hesse, 2016

Born to a Jewish family in Nazi Germany, Eva Hesse (1936–1970) and her family fled Germany in 1939 for the U.S. Hesse was raised in New York and became an influential artist, working with a variety of mediums. Her diaries include not only ideas and plans for artworks, to-do lists, and accounting ledgers, but also document her illness, brain tumors, and multiple surgeries, which took her life at age 34.

In a few entries from 1964, Hesse transcribed passages from The Second Sex as she tried to bolster her confidence and advance her artistic process. She quoted from Beauvoir, “In boldly setting out towards ends, one risks disappointments; but one also obtains unhoped-for results; caution condemns to mediocrity.”

Visit the installation and peruse these publications along with works that inspired Beauvoir as well as works she wrote. From the Desk of Simone de Beauvoir is on view on the museum’s fourth floor through August 16, 2017.

—Sarah Osborne Bender is the director of the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. 

Art Fix Friday: June 16, 2017

This year’s edition of Art Basel, Switzerland, opened on Thursday, June 15.

Art Basel features work by the Guerrilla Girls (left) and Claudia Comte (right)

Art Basel features work by the Guerrilla Girls (left) and Claudia Comte (right)

The art fair showcases posters by the Guerrilla Girls, a video installation by Cécile B. Evans with a Brutalist viewing booth, film programming by Maxa Zoller, and a “fun fair” installation by Claudia Comte, who says, “we are all taking ourselves too seriously.”

Front-Page Femmes

The National Museum of Women in the Arts made the news this week with a $9 million bequest from benefactor Madeleine Rast.

The film Wonder Woman smashed records, becoming the biggest-ever domestic opening for a woman director ever.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith was named the poet laureate of the United States by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.

Indian artist Astha Butail has been selected as the next BMW Art Journey winner with her project In the Absence of Writing.

Ramsay art prize winner Sarah Contos “boldly claims space on the gallery wall for female Australian artists.”

After nearly 300 years, Royal Collection Trust’s conservators discovered a lucky token hidden by Venetian artist Rosalba Carriera in the frame of one of her pastel works.

Cornelia Parker discusses her role as the first woman and conceptual artist to be chosen for the role of U.K.’s official election artist.

Coco Picard’s The Chronicles of Fortune is a story about learning how to grapple with the role of death in life.

Art collector and patron Agnes Gund sells Roy Lichtenstein’s Masterpiece for $150 million to create a fund “that supports criminal justice reform and seeks to reduce mass incarceration in the United States.”

AIGA presents 5 powerful projects designed by and for women to address the cultural stigma behind abortion.

Jenny Holzer’s new works “put unexpected things into unlikely places” to address tensions and inequality in contemporary society.

Merrill Wagner uses tape and Plexiglas to craft “measured, stark, ravishing” work.

Two-time Turner Prize nominee and Royal Academy member Alison Wilding discusses her most recent exhibition.

An Atlantic review of Anne Helen Petersen’s new book Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman explores contemporary culture, which “claims to celebrate women but often, politically and culturally, puts them in a bind.”

Susan Silton stages an all-woman production of Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time.”

Yoko Ono—after 46 years—is credited as co-writer of the song “Imagine.”

Shows We Want to See

Writer Zadie Smith profiles British-Ghanaian artist Yiadom-Boakye in honor of her recent exhibition at New York’s New Museum, Under-Song for a Cipher.

Lenka Clayton is “highly attuned to the rhythms of everyday life” in the exhibition Object Temporarily Removed at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia.

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s Jaonua: The Nothingness, a five-channel video installation, is on view through July 28 at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York City.

Tate Modern prepares to exhibit work by the trailblazing Turkish artist Fahrelnissa Zeid.

A new survey of paintings by Lisa Yuskavage is on view at David Zwirner gallery, London.

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

Can Art Rouse the Spirit? Experience “Revival” this Summer!

On June 23, NMWA’s second floor will come alive with brilliant contemporary sculpture and photo-based art by 16 women artists in the summer exhibition Revival. The show explores the featured artists’ representations of the body, the child, and other creatures through a remarkable range of media, scale, and techniques.

Lalla Essaydi, Bullets Revisited #3, 2012; Three chromogenic prints mounted on aluminum, 66 x 150 in. overall; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Purchased with funds provided by Jacqueline Badger Mars, Sunny Scully Alsup and William Alsup, Mr. Sharad Tak and Mrs. Mahinder Tak, Marcia and Frank Carlucci, and Nancy Nelson Stevenson; © Lalla Essaydi

Lalla Essaydi, Bullets Revisited #3, 2012; Three chromogenic prints mounted on aluminum, 66 x 150 in. overall; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Purchased with funds provided by Jacqueline Badger Mars, Sunny Scully Alsup and William Alsup, Mr. Sharad Tak and Mrs. Mahinder Tak, Marcia and Frank Carlucci, and Nancy Nelson Stevenson; © Lalla Essaydi

Hanging sculptures, video projections, and large-scale photographs create immersive, mesmeric environments while smaller meticulous works draw the viewer close, beckoning toward sensations that spark memory and emotion. Each artist connects to the unconscious through highly allusive depictions of human and other animal bodies. The artists in Revival employ a wide range of materials in their works. Working with hair, yarn, velvet, wax, marble, found objects, taxidermied birds, and lens-based media, to name a few, these artists explore materiality in meaningful and impactful ways.

In the triptych from the series Bullets Revisited #3 (2012), Lalla Essaydi portrays a reclining woman with her face turned toward the viewer, confronting the historical Orientalism of Western artists, particularly sexualized depictions of women. Upon a closer look, the viewer will notice that the figure’s body is covered in henna calligraphy, challenging the tradition of calligraphy as a male-dominated art form. The woman’s dress and surroundings are elaborately decorated with silver and gold bullet casings. Essaydi explains her use of bullet casings as a commentary on violence against women in a new post-revolutionary era following the Arab Spring.

Sonya Clark, Cotton to Hair, 2012; Cotton and human hair, 14 1/2 x 12 1/2 x 5 in.; Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, D.C.; © Sonya Clark; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Sonya Clark, Cotton to Hair, 2012; Cotton and human hair, 14 1/2 x 12 1/2 x 5 in.; Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, D.C.; © Sonya Clark; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

In Cotton to Hair (2012), Sonya Clark juxtaposes a boll of cotton with human hair to allude to the history of slavery in the U.S., acknowledging cotton as a key contributor to U.S. trade and wealth in the early 1800s. Clark combines cotton with a tuft of dark human hair, referencing African American slaves who worked in the fields to create this wealth.

The exhibition features powerful works by Louise Bourgeois, Petah Coyne, Alison Saar, Joana Vasconcelos, Patricia Piccinini, alongside other artists featured in NMWA’s collection. Revival illuminates women who regenerate sculpture and photo-based art to profound expressive effect. A survey of the museum’s collection in its 30th year inspired this exhibition, which is enriched by important loans from public and private collections as well as artists’ studios.

Visit the museum and see Revival, on view from June 23 to September 10, 2017.

—Roseline Odhiambo is the summer 2017 digital engagement intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Superwomen Assemble: Meet the Women Saving Comics

“Images play a crucial role in defining and controlling the political and social power to which individuals and marginalized groups have access,” stated filmmaker Pratibha Parmar. “The deeply ideological nature of imagery determines not only how other people think about us but how we think about ourselves.”

Ashley A Woods’s artwork for NIOBE: She is Life

Ashley A. Woods’s artwork for NIOBE: She is Life

FRESH TALK: Who are the new superwomen of the universe? on June 14 will show how comics, in particular, can highlight what a society values through the heroes they revere. The imagery surrounding heroes often reveals ingrained notions and perceptions of people. In the comics landscape, hulking, white male characters are often the ideals—if not the standards—for heroism. Often the imagery surrounding women, people of color, and other marginalized groups skews towards abusive imaginings or stereotypes. Recently, however, more people within the comics community are making strides to subvert that trend.

Meet the women changing the universe of comics at the final Fresh Talk program of the Women, Arts, and Social Change 2016–17 season. Guest speakers include ComicMix.com columnist Emily S. Whitten as the moderator and Carolyn Cocca, author of Superwomen: Gender, Power, and Representation. Young Adult author Gabby Rivera will discuss her role writing for the queer Latina superheroine of the Marvel universe, America Chavez. Fresh Talk also features Ariell Johnson, the first black woman to open a comic book shop on the East Coast. “There are a lot of black girl geeks in the world but we are not at the forefront,” noted Johnson. “This store is also kind of a statement—we’re here, we’ve been here and we’re going to keep being here.”

Ashley A Woods’s artwork for NIOBE: She is Life

Ashley A. Woods’s artwork for NIOBE: She is Life

Illustrator Ashley A. Woods will share her experiences drawing for the series NIOBE: She is Life, the first internationally distributed comic with a black woman author, artist, and central character. Woods imbues renderings of Niobe, the title character of the series, with an earthly quality that enhances her supernatural features, while not obscuring her humanity. The series, charting the adventures of the fantastical half-elf, half human warrior, explores issues ranging from racism to religion. Woods’s artwork for the series provides long overdue proof that black women in fantasy comics are not out of place. If anything, they are powerful voices that need to be heard.

Save your spot for Fresh Talk on June 14 to meet the new wave of superheroines entering the comic universe, leading the fight for justice and dispelling traditional stereotypes. Follow the conversation through #FreshTalk4Change.

—Kimberly Colbert is a summer 2017 intern in the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

What Did Simone de Beauvoir Write?

In the installation From the Desk of Simone de Beauvoir, visitors can consider the influence and intellect of writer Simone de Beauvoir in an interpretation of her Paris studio alcove. Museum visitors can sit at a desk and read publications that Beauvoir either read, wrote, or inspired. Beauvoir spent an extraordinary amount of her life writing. Her output included the groundbreaking feminist treatise The Second Sex, for which she is most well remembered. She also wrote novels, essays and articles, a play, daily letters to friends and lovers, and four memoirs. These selected titles provide a glimpse into her remarkable body of writing.

Covers of Simone de Beauvoir’s L’Invitée, 1943 (left) and America Day by Day, 1948 (right)

Covers of Simone de Beauvoir’s L’Invitée, 1943 (left) and America Day by Day, 1948 (right)

L’Invitée, 1943

Beauvoir labored over this first novel, known in English as She Came to Stay, for three years. She studied the techniques of authors such as John Dos Passos, D. H. Lawrence, and William Faulkner to help her construct her characters. The story was inspired by the love triangle between herself, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Olga Kosakiewicz—an important woman in both of their lives for many years. Tenets of Existentialism run throughout the novel.

America Day by Day, 1948

After feeling jealousy at Sartre’s first trip to the U.S., Beauvoir soon arranged her own: a five-month lecture tour that began in New York in January 1947. This book is her travelogue (though comprising recollections from several trips), with characteristically self-centered, but highly detailed and obviously dazzled, accounts of New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Hollywood. Always up for an adventure, Beauvoir visited jazz clubs, smoked marijuana, gambled in casinos, and met and fell in love with Nelson Algren.

Covers of Simone de Beauvoir’s Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, 1958 (left) and Adieux: a Farewell to Sartre, 1981 (right)

Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, 1958

The first of Beauvoir’s four memoirs, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter covers the years of her birth up to age 21. It details her family dynamics and education, her first powerful friendship with Zaza Mabille, her first romantic attempts with her cousin Jacques, and the beginning of her decades-long relationship with fellow philosophy student Sartre.

Adieux: a Farewell to Sartre, 1981

This book chronicles the last ten years of the of Sartre, Beauvoir’s life partner, as well as conversations between the two (which they recorded during their last summer visits to Rome) about Sartre’s work and legacy. Upon publication, Beauvoir was surprised when it was met with outrage from Sartre’s legions of admirers at the unsparing details of his physical decline. Some accused her of taking advantage of having the last word.

Visit the installation and peruse these selections of Beauvoir’s writings along with books she read and works she inspired. From the Desk of Simone de Beauvoir is on view on the museum’s fourth floor through August 12, 2017.

—Sarah Osborne Bender is the director of the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. 

Art Fix Friday: June 2, 2017

NPR calls the new Wonder Woman film “a triumph of scale.” The movie is the first superhero blockbuster to be both centered around and directed by a woman.

Director Patty Jenkins is only the second woman director to command a budget of more than $100 million. Slate writes that lead actress Gal Gadot “endows [the character of Wonder Woman] with a fierce compassion and burning moral clarity that renders all cries of ‘you go, girl’ superfluous.” The superhero origin story “cleverly combines genre elements into something reasonably fresh, touching, and fun,” writes the New York Times.

Front-Page Femmes

artnet includes NMWA’s exhibition Revival as one of their 10 exhibitions to see around the world this summer.

A study from CUNY Guttman College finds that 80.5% of all artists represented at the top 45 New York galleries during the 2016-17 season were white. The statistics also show that only 30% of the represented artists were women.

On May 31, a Google Doodle celebrated the late architect Zaha Hadid.

Nouf Semari reflects on her experience as one of three women artists from Saudi Arabia who received artist residencies in New York City through the Majlis Studio Residency program.

Samantha Bittman weaves complex textiles on a loom and paints selected portions of their surfaces, revealing new patterns.

Neak Sophal’s series of photographic portraits creatively plays with stereotypes of Cambodian women.

Alice Guy-Blaché (1873–1968) is recognized as the first woman filmmaker, but her career “remains unsung in the history of cinema.”

Marie Cosindas, an early pioneer of color photography, died at the age of 93.

An exhibition in the U.K. features the detailed drawings of Susan Te Kahurangi King, an artist who stopped speaking at the age of four.

Actress and writer Zoe Lister-Jones hired an all-female crew for her indie comedy, Band Aid.

Jessica Chastain described the depiction of women on screen at this year’s Cannes Film Festival “disturbing.”

NPR remembers Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African American to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize, on the 100th anniversary of her birth.

The New Yorker writes that Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness “is a book that people have been waiting 20 years for.”

Shows We Want to See

The Future Is Female, on view at 21C Museum and Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, “[envisions] a female future that involves understanding the intersection of gender with all aspects of daily life, and womanhood as a multifaceted entity.”

Designer Judith Leiber’s whimsical, bejeweled handbags are the subject of an exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design.

The Washington Post describes Susan Middleton’s photographs of marine invertebrates in Spineless at the National Academy of Sciences “color studies, experiments in form and depth, and mini sci-fi movies all in one.”

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

Go Figure! Amy Sherald at NMWA

“These are my favorites,” said Amy Sherald, gesturing to two of her paintings on view in NMWA’s collection galleries. “It was a relief to walk in here and see these. There’s absolutely nothing that I would fix because I had all the time in the world.” After winning first prize in the 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition for the National Portrait Gallery, the Baltimore-based artist keeps a busy schedule. During an Artists in Conversation program at NMWA on May 9, Sherald shared her sources of inspiration and what she hopes viewers will take away from her work.

Amy Sherald at NMWA

Amy Sherald at NMWA; Photo: Emily Haight, NMWA

They Call Me Redbone but I’d Rather Be Strawberry Shortcake (2009) relates to Sherald’s life in Columbus, Georgia. “Once I moved to Baltimore I realized no one called me a ‘redbone,’” explained Sherald. “If you don’t know what a ‘redbone’ is…it refers to someone who is supposed to be of Native American, African, and European descent. So, in the South it was very race conscious. . . . My basketball coach called me ‘redbone,’ which I really didn’t mind. And then there were other people who I didn’t know who called me ‘redbone’…and I didn’t like it so much.”

Sherald explained her personal connection to the subject of It Made Sense…Mostly in Her Mind (2011), portraying a horseback rider holding a children’s toy unicorn. “I went to an equestrian riding camp when I was an adolescent,” said Sherald, who later developed the idea for the painting after seeing her friend’s mother do dressage. Sherald asked her friend, Christina, to model for the painting because she embodied the sophistication Sherald wanted to capture.

Both paintings are displayed on the same gallery wall as Frida Kahlo’s Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky (1937). “Frida Kahlo was one of my inspirations,” said Sherald. “When I changed my major from pre-med to painting, I had these ideas of painting a lot of the same things she did. I was talking to my art teacher Arturo Lindsay and he said, ‘look up Frida Kahlo.’” Sherald added, “I’m honored, to say the least.”

When discussing the impact of her paintings, Sherald told attendees, “I received emails from all kinds of people that see themselves in this work, and that’s really important too.” Sherald noted, “When you walk through a space like [the museum] you don’t always see this [gesturing to the figures in her paintings]. For me, this became really important, interjecting images of the underrepresented in the dominant circle narrative and making work that I felt would resonate in a way that art history can’t be told without it. . . . I consider myself an American Realist, maybe with a post-modern flare.”

Visit the museum to see Sherald’s paintings in person. Stay tuned about future programs through the online calendar and by signing up for e-news.

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

Art Fix Friday: May 26, 2017

Hyperallergic publishes an illustrated guide to Linda Nochlin’s influential 1971 ARTnews essay, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”

One of the first major works of feminist art history, the essay suggests that “the feminist art historian should pick apart, analyze, and question the social and institutional structures that underpin artistic production, the art world, and art history.”

Front-Page Femmes

NYLON includes Revival in their list of 13 art exhibitions to see this summer.

The ArtCurious podcast shares NMWA’s #5WomenArtists social media campaign and discusses five artists who have been left out of the art historical canon.

Shirin Neshat conveys her identity as an Iranian woman in America through her film Roja.

Multimedia artist Paula Crown creates an installation with 150 ceramic Solo cups.

Deborah Butterfield’s horse sculptures look like driftwood, although are actually cast in bronze.

The New Yorker discusses Leonora Carrington’s status within Surrealist circles. “The tendency for women artists to be overshadowed by their male partners is, sadly, a recurring one, and for women involved in the Surrealist circle, the situation was even more fraught.”

Women Photograph is an online database promoting 400 women photojournalists from 67 countries.

Artsy celebrates designer Florence Knoll Bassett on her 100th birthday.

Harmonia Rosales reimagined Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam with women of color.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam acquired a handwritten botanical book illustrated with photographic images by the first woman photographer, Anna Atkins (1799–1871).

Laurie Anderson creates a new, virtual-reality work in a 10,000-square-foot studio at Mass MoCA.

“When I came to [New York City] I felt like my newly forming ego and sense of self was just torn to shreds,” says Kara Walker in an art21 interview.

The Guardian calls Ariel Levy’s memoir The Rules Do Not Apply “so stark and succinct it can be read in one afternoon, and Levy’s honesty is blistering.”

Star Wars screenwriter Gloria Katz discusses her experiences as a woman screenwriter in the male-dominated movie industry of the 1960s and ’70s.

Laleh Khadivi discusses her new novel A Good Country.

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s debut novel Harmless Like You tells two interconnected stories of a teenage girl in the 1960s who dreams of becoming an artist, and her son in present day traveling to find his absent mother.

Letters to a Young Artist by Anna Deavere Smith explores the paradox of procrastination.

Shows We Want to See

Shantell Martin’s work, on view at Albright-Knox Art Gallery, uses black ink lines on white surfaces to transform walls and found objects into a visual narrative.

Looking South: Photographs by Eudora Weltyon view at the North Carolina Museum of Art, contains 18 iconic images by the novelist and short story writer from the 1930s and early ’40s.

Lu Yang: Delusional Mandala, on view at MOCA Cleveland, explores links between aesthetics, coding, and bioart.

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

Gallery Reboot: Body Language

The museum’s newly reinstalled collection emphasizes connections between historical and contemporary art. Organized by the themes of the body, nature, domesticity, fabrication, and herstory, each gallery delves into a topic explored by women artists through time and around the world.

Male artists controlled the representation of the female body through most of Western art history. During the feminist art movement in the 1960s and ’70s, women artists claimed ownership over visualization of the body, and artists today explore the expressive potential of the female form. Artists Daniela Rossell, Mickalene Thomas, and Magdalena Abakanowicz use the human body to communicate powerful messages.

Daniela Rossell, Michelle Jacuzzi- Untitled (#7) (Ricas y Famosas), 1999; Chromogenic color print, 50 x 60 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, DC; © Daniela Rossell, Courtesy of the artist and Greene Naftali, New York

Daniela Rossell, Michelle Jacuzzi–Untitled (#7) (Ricas y Famosas), 1999; Chromogenic color print, 50 x 60 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, DC; © Daniela Rossell, Courtesy of the artist and Greene Naftali, New York

In Michelle Jacuzzi–Untitled (#7) (1999) from the series “Ricas y Famosas,” Daniela Rossell (b. 1973) delves into the lives of Mexico’s elite families by emphasizing the way popular culture creates and disseminates female stereotypes. From a wealthy family herself, Rossell had access to some of the most affluent women in Mexico. Each subject constructs her own image by choosing her clothing, pose, and setting. Compared to other subjects in this series, Michelle is dressed in more casual clothing while perched atop a rooftop hot tub. Rossell’s model suggests a duality, shown with an over-sized rosary and subtly visible underwear and tattoo. The model’s confident posture and luxurious setting underscore her wealth and high social standing. Rossell’s works explore notions of purity, sexuality, and power in relation to the female body.

Mickalene Thomas, A-E-I-O-U and Sometimes Y, 2009; Plastic rhinestones, acrylic, and enamel on panel, 24 x 20 in.; Gift of Deborah Carstens; © 2009 Mickalene Thomas, Courtesy of the Artist and Lehmann Maupin

Mickalene Thomas, A-E-I-O-U and Sometimes Y, 2009; Plastic rhinestones, acrylic, and enamel on panel, 24 x 20 in.; Gift of Deborah Carstens; © 2009 Mickalene Thomas, Courtesy of the Artist and Lehmann Maupin

Mickalene Thomas (b. 1971) creates images of African American women as a way to scrutinize and disrupt popular notions of female beauty. Thomas pulls inspiration from art history as well as popular culture. Her works are as likely to reference 19th-century painting as 1970s Blaxploitation films. A-E-I-O-U and Sometimes Y (2009) re-creates a portrait of her model, Fran, from a photo booth picture. In Thomas’s work, Fran’s face materializes from carefully placed rhinestones against a flamingo-pink enamel background. Thomas compares her use of rhinestones to the lustrous lip gloss women wear as “another level of masking, of dressing up.” Her work challenges the perception of femininity.

Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930–2017), a leader in the fiber arts movement, created a mold made from a real person, using burlap mixed with resin and glue for her work 4 Seated Figures (2002). Born in Poland, Abakanowicz witnessed her mother get shot after soldiers stormed into their home during World War II—an instant that that is reflected in these figures. The forms are presented as genderless, and they appear to have been stripped of revealing muscles, arteries, or cords suggestive of the nervous system. Although her figures were inspired from a personal event, the work encourages multiple interpretations and speaks broadly to the human experience. Abakanowicz said, “They are naked, exposed, and vulnerable, just as we all are.”

Magdalena Abakanowicz, 4 Seated Figures, 2002; Burlap, resin, and iron rods, 53 1/2 x 24 1/4 x 99 1/4 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts; © Magdalena Abakanowicz

Magdalena Abakanowicz, 4 Seated Figures, 2002; Burlap, resin, and iron rods, 53 1/2 x 24 1/4 x 99 1/4 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts; © Magdalena Abakanowicz

Visit the museum to see these works in the third floor galleries. Can’t visit in person? Browse #GalleryReboot on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more collection highlights.

Madeline Barnes was the spring 2017 digital engagement intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.