Art Fix Friday: November 17, 2017

Reports of women speaking out publicly about harassment and assault are gaining traction in the news.

The Washington Post and the Guardian discuss NMWA’s latest exhibition El Tendedero/The Clothesline Project—a collaborative installation by artist Mónica Mayer designed to spark conversation about women’s experiences with harassment and violence.

Following recent reports of sexual harassment in the art world, Artsy interviewed women who came up in the art world in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s—including artist Betty Tompkins—about their experiences with sexism and harassment over the course of their careers. Artist Natalie Frank wrote an ARTnews article titled “For Women Artists, the Art World Can Be a Minefield.”

NPR interviewed Tippi Hedren, Melanie Griffith, and Dakota Johnson—three generations of actresses—about their experiences with harassment in Hollywood.

“This recent calling out of sexual assault has been a long time coming,” says comedian Sarah Silverman in a monologue for her Hulu show. “It’s good. . . . it’s complicated and it is gonna hurt, but it’s necessary and we’ll all be healthier for it.”

Front-Page Femmes

Three women were among the 2017 National Book Award winners, including Jesmyn Ward, Masha Gessen, and Robin Benway. Ward is the first woman to ever receive the award twice.

Kerstin Brätsch wins the Munch Museum’s Edvard Munch Art Award.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s painting Earth’s Creation 1 broke its own auction record, selling for $2.1 million.

Art Basel Miami Beach will include an all-woman art fair, titled “Fair.

Painter Jordan Casteel reflects on the complex dynamic between herself and her subjects.

Dominique Fung’s paintings have a “magical, slick glazed feel.”

Kelly Reemtsen paints images of anonymous women in thick impasto, juxtaposing high fashion with construction equipment.

Carrie Mae Weems will present a gathering of artists and activists to examine histories of violence and how they have impacted American society.

art21 explores Tala Madani’s sketchbooks.

The Art for Justice Fund, founded by Agnes Gund, hopes to reduce prison populations by 20% over the next five years.

NPR interviews actress Greta Gerwig about her directorial debut, Lady Bird.

Khadijah Queen’s latest book of poetry is “an investigation of celebrity culture and toxic masculinity that moves at a lyrical sprint.”

A new biography of Paula Modersohn-Becker “sparkles with details of Becker’s close friendships and artistic training.”

Shows We Want to See

Sable Elyse Smith’s solo exhibition at the Queens Museum, Ordinary Violence, is “marked by her father’s 19-year incarceration—the majority of her life—which has left an indelible absence.”

Del Kathryn Barton’s exhibition The Highway is a Disco explores themes of childhood, womanhood, and nature.

Nan Goldin: Family History, on view at the Portland Museum of Art, “offers audiences a kaleidoscopic narrative of the breadth of the human experience.”

Dana Awartani uses mathematical principles and traditional Islamic patterning in her works on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

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

Artist Spotlight: Nanette Carter

Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today places abstract works by multiple generations of black women artists in context with one another—and within the larger history of abstract art—for the first time, revealing the artists’ role as under-recognized leaders in abstraction.

Illumination #1 (1984)

Nanette Carter (b. 1954, Columbus, Ohio)

A self-titled “scapeologist,” Nanette Carter specializes in crafting fictional landscapes of outer space and the ocean, sky, and earth. Through visual world-building, Carter finds a way to simultaneously critique the drama of humankind and pay homage to the persistence of the natural world. For Carter, the imagined realm serves as a framework in which “the necessity of war and the horrors of injustice” can be fused to “the mysteries of nature and human nature.”

Illumination #1 is the first in a series of 49 works, all created between 1984 and 1986. The series was inspired by Carter’s first trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she became fascinated with the blend of European Catholic and African Yoruba faiths. Carter’s sharp, rhythmic mark-making references the music of Rio, the pulse of the city that Carter became enamored with. Shapes fit together with distinct sense of motion in Illumination #1, recalling celebration and festivity.

Nanette Carter, Cantilevered #14, from the series “Cantilevered,” 2014; Oil on Mylar, 30 x 37 in.; N’Namdi Contemporary Gallery, Miami, Florida; © Nanette Carter; Photo courtesy of the artist

From 1997 onward, Carter has worked exclusively on frosted Mylar, a type of plastic sheet developed by DuPont during the 1950s. By using Mylar, Carter achieves a unique “luminosity, density, and transparency” in her artwork—particularly true in Cantilevered #14 (2014), Carter’s second work on view in Magnetic Fields. Part of a series of 37, “cantilever” is an architectural term referring to a rigid support beam anchored only on one end. In Cantilevered #14, nebulous blocks of color and texture are invisibly suspended in a pool of transparent Mylar. The almost precarious stack of shapes calls to mind the delicate balance of family, friends, work, health, news, and social media in the 21st century, as well as the support nets necessary to maintain it.

Visit the museum and explore Magnetic Fields, on view through January 21, 2018. Learn more through the Magnetic Fields Mobile Guide.

—Ilayda Orankoy is the 2017 fall publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Hung Liu: Restoring Memory

Born in 1948, a year before the Chinese Communist party came to power, Hung Liu grew up in an environment that discouraged apolitical personal expression. Although she received training in socialist realism, Liu delighted in painting landscapes and drawing portraits based on photos, both unsanctioned forms of expression under the Maoist regime. It was only when Liu immigrated to America that she began to experiment with art’s potential beyond the realm of realistic representation.

Hung Liu, Shan-Mountain, 2012; Color aquatint etching with gold leaf, 47 x 36 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Promised Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore; © Hung Liu; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Liu’s best-known works are paintings based on historical photographs. Re-creating the images in an enlarged format, she transforms humble documents into large, vivid portraits. Perhaps in rebellion against her training, Liu rejects the rigid realism of Chinese art of the post-Mao era. Instead, she embraces traditional conventions of Chinese painting that value energetic, expressive line work. She uses a restorative process in her work, layering bright colors over the black-and-white original images as well as decorative textures and whimsical forms from classical paintings. She often drips linseed oil over the canvas to create a hazy veil that hints at the muddled refractions of history and memory. By focusing on her subjects, Liu dignifies and humanizes these nameless faces of history. In lieu of capturing their precise historical context, she enhances the mysterious aura lent to them by the passage of time.

Liu imbues unlikely subjects with an awesome presence, as seen in her works on view at NMWA. On a 1991 trip to China, Liu discovered a collection of old photographs depicting unnamed prostitutes. In Shan-Mountain (2012) and Shui-Water (2012) she extracts these women from their source photos and presents them, magnified in scope, in dramatic portraits. Her focus on restoring their integrity as people over restoring the images as historical artifacts indicates a deep engagement with the humanity of her subjects. Once again, her vivid palette not only brings them to life, but endows the women with an air of nobility that suggests they might be royal concubines, or even empresses.

Hung Liu, Shui-Water, 2012; Color aquatint etching with gold leaf, 47 x 36 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Promised Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore; © Hung Liu; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

The names of the paintings themselves allude to the Chinese name for landscape paintings (shan shui hua, literally “mountain river paintings”) where towering mountains and sweeping rivers dwarf the occupants of the land. Although she imitates the aesthetics of landscape painting, Liu ultimately subverts their focus. Rather than emphasizing nature’s grandeur, she asserts the dignity of these individuals. By blending Western portraiture with Chinese landscape painting, Liu casts her subjects as monumental figures that stand independent of time or place. History may pick and choose who to remember, the paintings seem to say, but the integrity of the human spirit will thrive regardless.

—Xiaoxiao Meng was the summer 2017 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Artist Spotlight: Maren Hassinger

Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today places abstract works by multiple generations of black women artists in context with one another—and within the larger history of abstract art—for the first time, revealing the artists’ role as under-recognized leaders in abstraction.

Wrenching News (2008) 

Maren Hassinger (b. 1947 in Los Angeles, California)

“I want my work to offer an experience to look and to see, to contemplate,” says sculptor and performance artist Maren Hassinger. With a career that has spanned over four decades, Hassinger continues to create works that invite viewers to contemplate issues of nature, culture, and identity. Hassinger’s abstract sculpture Wrenching News, on view in Magnetic Fields, explores such themes.

Hassinger began her artistic career at Bennington College in Vermont in 1965, where she planned to pursue a degree in dance but ultimately decided to focus on the visual arts. After receiving her degree in sculpture, Hassinger received her MFA at UCLA. The course of her career changed after she took a class in weaving, and she began to experiment with the malleability and texture of fiber when creating sculptures. Hassinger’s fascination with the transformative qualities of unconventional materials continued to grow.

Her six-square-diameter floor sculpture Wrenching News is an embodiment of these interests. Hassinger twisted and coiled together hundreds of strips of newspaper into a veil. Inspired by the events and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the artist used pages from The New York Times. Hassinger employs newspaper as a medium because of the relevant stories it contains. She explains, “The New York Times, in particular, has incredible international coverage and so that use of the newspaper is like saying this is about the world.”

Maren Hassinger, Wrenching News (detail), 2008; Shredded, twisted, and wrapped New York Times newspapers, 12 x 72 x 72 in.; Courtesy of the artist, New York, New York; © Maren Hassinger

The twisting of the material comes from the artist’s background in weaving and working with textiles. The busy, complex appearance of her work calls to mind the sociopolitical challenges that can arise from the devastation caused by a natural disaster. At the same time, the work sparks conversation about how tragedy and suffering are part of the human experience.

The work’s positioning on the floor encourages viewers to remember that sometimes devastating global events can spur society to grow, endure, and become more resilient. As the director of the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Hassinger emphasizes the importance of “empowering people through art so they can be empowered to change things.”

Visit the museum and explore Magnetic Fields, on view through January 21, 2018. Learn more through the Magnetic Fields Mobile Guide.

—Katie Benz is the 2017 fall digital engagement intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: November 3, 2017

Art historian Linda Nochlin passed away at the age of 86. ARTnews remembers her pivotal role in developing the field of feminist art history, beginning with her 1971 landmark essay, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”

Hyperallergic says Nochlin’s essay “triggered a nuclear chain reaction that reconfigured not just the art world, but seemingly all areas of culture.” Jerry Saltz writes, “[Nochlin] looked at the institution of art history and demonstrated how it was intellectually, semiotically, and psychoanalytically corrupt. And she blew it down.”

The Los Angeles Times reflects on Nochlin’s work, saying, “Art…doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It exists within the power structures of society—structures dominated by men.” Artsy shares the perspectives and memories of Nochlin’s students.

Front-Page Femmes

The Washington Post writes that NMWA’s latest exhibition, Magnetic Fields,confronts two false assumptions embedded in the art world.”

The New York Times reports, “Laurie Anderson, Cindy Sherman, Lynn Nottage, and hundreds of other artists, writers, curators, and directors have signed an open letter condemning the publisher of Artforum, Knight Landesman, and pledging to fight against sexism and sexual harassment in the art world.”

The Cut interviews La Monnaie de Paris Director Camile Morineau about the exhibition Women House, opening at NMWA next March.

“Gray makes the paintings work. But it’s also a way for me to subversively comment about race without feeling as though I’m excluding the viewer,” says NMWA artist Amy Sherald about her large gray-scale portraits.

The New York Times Style Magazine spotlights feminist artists making provocative art about sex, including Carolee Schneemann, Betty Tompkins, and Juanita McNeely—among others.

The Studio Museum awarded sculptor and installation artist Simone Leigh this year’s $50,000 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize.

The Hatchet features a video from NMWA’s recent Makers Mart.

Barbara Kruger’s installation Untitled (Skate) offers a cutting critique of consumerism and capitalism.

Natasha Caruana uses VR technology to invite viewers to watch her ailing mother’s daily activities.

The Guardian explores the history of Frida Kahlo as a feminist, icon, and style muse.

Beyoncé will voice Nala in Disney’s remake of The Lion King.

Shows We Want to See

Artist Judith Bernstein opens up about her new exhibition Cabinet of Horrors, on view at The Drawing Center. Bernstein discusses the juxtaposition of humor and critique in her work.

Design Week explores a new exhibition at the London Transport Museum shows the graphics and prints of women designers who have been “criminally neglected.”

Fired Up: Contemporary Glass by Women Artists, on display at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio, “documents almost six decades of dedication shown by women starting from the Studio Glass Movement of the 1960s to 21st-century innovations.”

Her Paris: Women Artists in the Age of Impressionism, on view at the Denver Art Museum, features 80 paintings from 1850–1900 by 37 women artists who came from Europe and America to build their careers in the Paris art community.

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

Self-Portraits in NMWA’s Collection

Self-portraiture offers a fascinating glimpse into an artist’s mind. Whether traditional or abstracted, self-portraits can affirm an artist’s identity. There are fewer known self-portraits by early women artists, who faced societal challenges in pursuing their goals and publicizing their accomplishments. Modern and contemporary women artists with works on view at NMWA employ self-portraiture to address personal, social, and political issues.

Jane Hammond, Wonderful You, 1995; Oil, gold leaf, collage on canvas, 81 1/2 x 82 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Promised Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in honor of the artist; © Jane Hammond

Known for her dizzying collages juxtaposing disparate characters and props to hint at alternate stories, Jane Hammond (b. 1950) draws source material from found clippings, images, and phrases. Hammond’s monumental work Wonderful You (1995), the first in a series, brings together recognizable figures including Superman, Mickey Mouse, and Buddha, replacing them all with her own face. Illustrating each character with jarring colors, the work highlights—rather than obliterates—their individuality. Rather than express herself in traditional terms, she chose to portray imaginary extensions of the self, celebrating a fantastical alternative to the isolation of the individual. She asserts the dignity of connections over distinction, eroding what may seem like deep-set cultural or historical differences to embrace the beauty of the other—or, in her words, “you.”

Kirsten Justesen, Lunch for a Landscape,1975/2009; Chromogenic print, 48 3/4 x 67 3/4 in; NMWA; Gift of Montana A/S, © Kirsten Justesen

Kirsten Justesen, Lunch for a Landscape, 1975/2009; Chromogenic print, 48 3/4 x 67 3/4 in; NMWA; Gift of Montana A/S, © Kirsten Justesen

Kirsten Justesen (b. 1943) champions the dignity of independence. Using her body as her medium, Justesen’s work examines how the female self relates to society. She portrays herself seated in a shopping cart, nude, and cruising down a tree-lined outdoor path in the photograph Lunch for a Landscape (1975; printed 2009). With her arms outstretched, Justesen rides in what she calls “the vehicle of [a housewife’s] life.” She embraces her roles as an artist and mother. Despite identifying as a housewife, she portrayed herself free from the house, her husband, or her children, asserting that her individuality as internal. Her pose is one of exhilaration and freedom. Justesen seems to reject the docility of historical female nudes, declaring independence from the male gaze in expressing her own desires.

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky, 1937; Oil on Masonite, 30 x 24 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of the Honorable Clare Boothe Luce; © 2012 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky, 1937; Oil on Masonite, 30 x 24 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of the Honorable Clare Boothe Luce; © 2012 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Best known for her myriad self-portraits, Frida Kahlo (1907–1954) often used her own image in her artistic practice. In her Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky (1937), she paints herself standing center stage, meeting the viewer’s gaze with confidence, and dressed in bright, elegant attire. In one hand she holds a bouquet, while in the other she displays a letter dedicated to Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Framing herself between curtains that call to mind religious Mexican folk paintings of the time, Kahlo takes control of her staged reality, casting herself as a protagonist in a dramatic declaration of political allegiance. Her address to Trotsky functions not only as a message of political support, but also an act of self-assertion to a lover. Although the setting in Kahlo’s painting is fictional, it serves as a symbolic space for self-staged expression.

These women demonstrate that self-portraits can be complex reflections of the artist’s private fascinations or public life. Visit NMWA to see these works in the museum’s collection galleries.

—Xiaoxiao Meng was the summer 2017 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: October 27, 2017

The National Museum of Women in the Arts welcomed 465 artists to the museum on Wednesday, October 25 for a historic group photo.

Now Be Here #4, DC/MD/VA; Photo by Kim Johnson; Courtesy of Kim Schoenstadt, Linn Meyers and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.

Conceived by Kim Schoenstadt in collaboration with Linn Meyers, Now Be Here #4 alerts the public to the number of women artists in their community. The Washington Post, Washington City Paper, and WAMU 88.5 featured the story.

Front-Page Femmes

“It was the prevailing attitude in the 1960s that women had no history,” says Judy ChicagoARTnews features Judy Chicago’s Pussies, on view at Jessica Silverman Gallery in San Francisco. Dazed Digital interviews Chicago, W magazine explores The Dinner Party, and Art Slant highlights the artist’s exhibitions this year.

Ursula Johnson, a performance and installation artist of Mi’kmaw First Nation ancestry, is the winner of Canada’s prestigious Sobey Award.

The New Yorker explores radical paintings by Laura Owens.

Photographic Treatment by Laurence Aëgerter encourages dementia patients to make their own connections by pairing unrelated images.

To streamline the flow of visitors, Yayoi Kusama decided to limit standing time to 30 seconds in her latest exhibition, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors.

Hyperallergic explores the impact graffiti had on the paintings Elizabeth Murray made during the 1980s.

Mexican textile artist Victoria Villasana employs whimsical embroidery on vintage photographs of artists, musicians, and politicians.

Lotte Geeven hopes to recreate the sound of shifting desert sands with circular drums and rotating blades.

Dutch designer Hella Jongerius created a kaleidoscopic and immersive installation titled Breathing Colour.

Cleopatra Coleman reads Heather Burtman’s essay about life before the male gaze in NPR’s Modern Love podcast.

Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, “challenges long-held conventions around female queerness and glam rock” in her new album.

Choreographer Julia K. Gleich and visual artist Elana Herzog present the premier of their new collaborative project, a full-length ballet titled Martha (The Searchers).

NPR interviews comedian Zahra Noorbakhsh about performing live during a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes.

The Whitney Museum of American Art recently acquired Florine Stehttheimer’s painting New York–Liberty (1919).

Lauren Gunderson, at 35, has had more than 20 works produced, and is currently the most produced playwright in the U.S.

Shows We Want to See

Nigerian-born artist Toyin Ojih Odutola’s exhibition To Wander Determined presents a corrective to a Eurocentric art history.

Misty Keasler explored and photographed 13 haunted houses across the U.S., on view in the exhibition Haunt at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

Works on view in Ana Mendieta: Thinking About Children’s Thinking, showcase Mendieta’s “misuse” of children’s activities as conceptual art. On view at Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, the exhibition attempts to “re-orient people’s minds about what is possible when we privilege the perspective of children.”

The Guardian explores the first major U.K. retrospective of Finnish artist Tove Jansson.

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

More than Meets the Eye: Surprising Materials

Several of the artists featured in NMWA’s collection galleries create works that seem to be at odds with their materials. This discrepancy goes to the heart of the viewing experience, revealing the duplicity of the work while also calling into question the audience’s assumptions concerning the depicted forms. In creating a paradox between subject and material, these artists seek to uncover the tensions inherent in artistic representation.

Sharon Core, Single Rose, 1997; Chromogenic color print; 14 x 13 inches; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, D.C.; © Sharon Core, Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery; Photograph by Lee Stalsworth

Sharon Core, Single Rose, 1997; Chromogenic color print; 14 x 13 inches; National
Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection,
Washington, D.C.; © Sharon Core, Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery; Photograph by Lee Stalsworth

Sharon Core’s culinary interests led her to craft her photographic series “Thiebauds.” From 2003 to 2004, Core re-created Wayne Thiebaud’s vivid, pastel still-life paintings with her own baked and hand-decorated dessert dishes. An earlier work in NMWA’s collection, Single Rose (1997), explores the distinction between delicacies and delicacy. In this photograph, a rose blooms against a tightly cropped pink background. A closer look reveals that the crumpled petals seem to be slices of meat. With this revelation, Core forces viewers to re-contextualize what they see. She substitutes the image of an elegant blossom with a parody of the rose’s associations of natural beauty. Her juxtaposition of visual truth against physical authenticity calls into question assumptions about equating representation with reality. Although meat exists in nature, as do roses, the viewer’s clashing associations frame the image as an artificial construction. Core’s visual deception reveals the contradiction in these associations.

Frida Baranek, untitled, 1991; Iron, 44 x 75 x 46 in.; NMWA; Museum purchase: The Lois Pollard Price Acquisition Fund

At first glance, Frida Baranek’s untitled sculpture (1991) conjures images of a bird’s nest. Only when viewers approach do they realize that what seems to be a tangle of straw is actually carefully constructed from iron wires and rods. Although the sculpture’s form appears lightweight and organic, it is heavy and industrial. Baranek is interested in using her art to comment on environmental issues in her native Brazil and around the world. Baranek’s sculptures demonstrate that even industrial debris can have meaning if reused and remade.

Marisa Tellería-Díez, Getting Wet, 1999; Fiberglass, hydrostone, and enamel, 16 x 13 x 14 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of the Tony Podesta Collection; © Marisa Tellería-Díez

Marisa Tellería-Díez invites contradiction in her sculpture Getting Wet (1999). Interested in visitor perception, Tellería-Díez explores the relationship between a work’s physical reality and what she calls its “perceptual presence”—which she describes as “a presence that points not only to what’s there but also to what’s not.” While Getting Wet resembles cushy stools, closer inspection shows that its soft curves are carved from rigid materials. Shattering the correlation between the visual and the kinesthetic, Tellería-Díez draws viewers in. Perhaps meant as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the title, the bottom of the two “cushions” retain a light blue gloss, an imitation of wetness that is just as illusory as the work’s hard plaster bodies.

Interested in experiencing this visual trickery firsthand? Visit the museum to see all three works in NMWA’s third floor galleries.

—Xiaoxiao Meng was the summer 2017 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: October 20, 2017

artnet reviews NMWA’s latest exhibition, Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today, highlighting abstract art by black women artists.

“The show’s most satisfying achievement is the duty it does in bringing representatives of several older generations of exiles in from the cold,” writes artnet. “We need to clear up the noise of art-historical stereotypes so that we can perceive the actual voices of these figures—their actual, individual passions and concerns—more clearly.”

Front-Page Femmes

Amy Sherald has been selected to paint Michelle Obama’s official portrait for Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. “Representation matters a great deal, especially in times like these,” says Sherald.

NO MAN’S LAND artist Hayv Kahraman discusses her work, violence, and the male gaze.

“Dead Feminists” series creators Jessica Spring and Chandler O’Leary release a new broadside based on Frida Kahlo.

Artsy shares findings the 2017 Culture Track Report, the seventh iteration of the national tracking survey of cultural audiences. The report found that 51% of respondents viewed a night of “food and drink” to be a cultural experience, but 37% did not think art museums were a cultural experience.

Sarah Meyohas transformed 100,000 rose petals into a critique of big data. “Yes, roses are a super symbol of love and beauty, but they are also a big business product,” says Meyohas.

“I felt like I needed to do it myself because I just couldn’t see it getting done,” says actress and playwright Danai Gurira about her desire to tell the stories of black women on stage and on screen.

Lego’s “Women of NASA” set features four essential women who made space science history.

Mikiko Hara’s photographs of everyday life on the streets of Tokyo evoke an “unusually poignant feeling.”

Artsy highlights transgender and genderqueer artists who are reversing those so-called “soft” stereotypes of queerness.

Hyperallergic profiles Kazuko Miyamoto, one of the founding members of A.I.R. (Artists in Resistance), the first all-woman artist collective in New York.

Artsy shares six lesser-known facts about photographer Dorothea Lange.

A Google doodle celebrates Mexican-American singer and icon Selena Quintanilla.

Where the Past Begins by Amy Tan shares the artist’s deeply personal reflections about her traumatic childhood, family history, and creative struggles.

Mexican author Valeria Luiselli chronicles her experience interpreting for child refugees in Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions.

Shows We Want to See

Heather Hart’s The Oracle of Lacuna, on display at Storm King Art Center, creates a physical space to celebrate and contemplate often overlooked oral histories.

After Jaye Schlesinger donated, recycled, and sold the majority of her belongings, she painted the remaining 380 items. Possession, on view at the University of Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities Common Room, highlights the complicated relationship between consumption and purging in America.

Lin Tianmiao’s installation at Galerie Lelong invites visitors to walk over dozens of antique carpets embroidered with more than 2,000 phrases used to describe women—ranging from obscure sexual slang to terms of endearment.

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

Spotlight: Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today places abstract works by multiple generations of black women artists in context with one another—and within the larger history of abstract art—for the first time, revealing the artists’ role as under-recognized leaders in abstraction.

Racism is Like Rain, Either it’s Raining or it’s Gathering Somewhere (1993)

Mary Lovelace O’Neal (b. 1942, Jackson, Mississippi)

Racism is Like Rain, Either it’s Raining or it’s Gathering Somewhere (1993) combines several trademark aspects of Mary Lovelace O’Neal’s style: bold, precise color; contrasting, velvety black; and aerobic, free-spirited movement. Together, they work to illustrate marginalized experience through representative abstraction. A vibrant “cloud” of heavy brushstrokes permeates the stark, matte background, underscoring the omnipresent and unavoidable nature of racism. The piece was originally on view at the California Afro-American No Justice, No Peace? Resolutions exhibition in 1993, a reaction to the Rodney King verdict and ensuing race riots of 1992.

Mary Lovelace O’Neal, “Little Brown Girl with your Hair in a Curl”/Daddy #5, 1973; Charcoal and pastel on paper, 18 x 24 in.; Mott-Warsh Collection, Flint, Michigan; © Mary Lovelace O’Neal; Photo courtesy of the Mott-Warsh Collection, Flint, Michigan

O’Neal’s roots in activism—she was mentored by figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin during the 1960s—are inextricably intertwined with her artwork. She examines the continuing influences of racism and celebrates the resilience of black culture in her other Magnetic Fields works “Little Brown Girl with your Hair in a Curl”/Daddy #5 (1973) and “…And a Twinkle in Your Eye”/Daddy #6 (1973), both of which involve O’Neal’s signature black pigment smothering a streak of light blue.

O’Neal does not use abstraction as an elaborate metaphor for black experience; rather, she views abstraction as a more transparent way to “give voice to the ‘intangible elements of the human spirit.’” O’Neal’s repeated use of black pigment and its obvious symbolism throughout her works speaks to this unfiltered exploration of racial politics in the United States.

The artist makes a point of being clear with her intentions in her artwork, particularly in the way she titles each piece. “My paintings and their titles speak for me. They’re not attitudes of despair; they just simply state a factual existence that continues.”

Consequently, O’Neal’s paintings carry a sense of optimism and joy despite the weight of their subject matter. Although Racism is Like Rain, Either it’s Raining or it’s Gathering Somewhere portrays a push-and-pull of power dynamics, there is a whimsical freedom in the illusion of movement.

Visit the museum and explore Magnetic Fields, on view through January 21, 2018. Learn more through the Magnetic Fields Mobile Guide.

—Ilayda Orankoy is the 2017 fall publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.