Art Fix Friday: March 16, 2018

Activists organized a display of more than 7,000 pairs of shoes on the U.S. Capitol lawn on March 13 to commemorate the victims of school shootings, and to push for stricter gun laws. Hyperallergic recalls other works that use clothing to raise awareness around violence.

Artists and museums have similarly used clothes and personal belongings to illuminate the bodies that society systematically ignores and abuses,” writes Eva Recinos for Hyperallergic. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Teresita de la Torre’s 365 Days in an Immigrant’s Shirt, Patricia Cronin’s Shrine for Girls, and Margarita Cabrera’s Space in Between—Agave all “humanize and capture events that are sometimes too horrific to process.”

Front-Page Femmes

The Los Angeles art community reacts to the firing of MOCA Chief Curator Helen Molesworth.

A group of 79 art world figures published an open letter in support of Maria Inés Rodriguez, the director of Bordeaux’s Contemporary Art Museum who was recently fired from her position.

The Broad Museum in Los Angeles acquired a new Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror Room.

Mattel announces the creation of a Frida Kahlo Barbie as part of their “Inspiring Women” line.

Music icon Joan Baez announced that her new album, Whistle Down the Wind, will be her last.

Phyllida Barlow will install a 30-foot-high sculpture titled Prop as her first public commission in the U.S.

Netflix paid The Crown actress Claire Foy less than supporting actor Matt Smith, despite her critical acclaim.

Animator Romane Granger uses modeled clay to suggest the complex ecosystem of life on the ocean’s floor.

Instead of focusing on the likenesses of the presidential portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama, Hyperallergic writes that “these pictures represent the former first couple both as individuals and as archetypes of African Americans.”

Art21 creates a video profile about Abigail DeVille’s The New Migration.

Shows We Want to See

On view at the Riverside Art Museum, Wendy Maruyama’s work explores the impact President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 had on her family and Japanese-Americans.

Faith Ringgold: An American Artist, on view at the Crocker Art Museum, displays more than 40 examples of Ringgold’s varied works spanning four decades. The exhibition includes story quilts, tankas, prints, oil paintings, drawings, masks, soft sculptures, and original illustrations from the book Tar Beach.

Tate Modern’s Joan Jonas retrospective spans over 50 years of the artist’s career and includes six days of live performances.

Laura Owens’s work on display at the Dallas Museum of Art challenges assumptions about figuration and abstraction, as well as the relationships among avant-garde art, craft, pop culture, and technology.

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

5 Fast Facts: Janet Forrester Ngala

Impress your friends with five fast facts about artist Janet Forrester Ngala (b. 1936), whose work is on view in NMWA’s collection galleries.

Janet Forrester Ngala, Milky Way Dreaming, 1998; Acrylic on canvas, 50 x 34 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Ann Shumelda Okerson and James J. O’Donnell; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

1. Australia Dreamin’

Janet Forrester Ngala, like many other Australian Aboriginal artists, depicts Dreamings, or creation stories. As these tales are inherited and considered sacred, artists protect specifics by working in an abstract style.

2. Humble Beginnings

Australian Indigenous art dates back more than 30,000 years. Early forms of expression included rock, bark, and body painting and ephemeral ground drawing. In the 1970s, Aboriginal men started using modern art materials to record ancient stories in tangible, saleable forms. Many women, including Ngala, began painting in the 1980s.

3. In the Stars

Ngala frequently represents the Milky Way in her paintings. Australian Aboriginal people believe that the galaxy is home to ancestral spirits and that each star within it represents a deceased person or animal.

Detail image of the center of Janet Forrester Ngala’s Milky Way Dreaming (1998) in NMWA’s galleries

4. Perspective Shifts

Ngala’s Milky Way Dreaming (1998) invites viewers to imagine gazing up at the stars. In Yam Story ’96 (1996), Emily Kame Kngwarreye (ca. 1910–1996) leads viewers deep underground, where we see intertwined, infinite, root bundles. Pansy Napangati (b. ca. 1948) provides audiences with aerial views of the land.

5. Methods to Motifs

In addition to the Milky Way, Ngala’s repeating symbols include serpents, honey ants, bush bananas, goannas (carnivorous lizards that are close relatives of Komodo Dragons), and witchetty-mades (large white larvae of moths historically consumed by Indigenous Australians) due to their high protein content.

—Adrienne L. Gayoso is the senior educator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: March 9, 2018

The New York Times created an online interactive to address the previous omission of obituaries for 15 remarkable women. “Obituary writing is more about life than death: the last word, a testament to a human contribution,” writes the Times. “Yet who gets remembered—and how—inherently involves judgment.”

The previously overlooked figures include author Charlotte Brontë, journalist Ida B. Wells, photographer Diane Arbus, poet Sylvia Plath, and Bollywood legend Madhubala.

Front-Page Femmes

NMWA’s latest exhibition Women House receives rave reviews from the Washington Post Express, Brightest Young Things, and WTOP.

NMWA writes an article for Hyperallergic about the challenges in collecting data about women artists of color.

Facebook censored an image of 30,000 year-old nude statue known as the Venus of Willendorf.

Laurence des Cars, director of the Musée d’Orsay, discusses gender imbalance in museum leadership positions.

A new book, Firecrackers: Female Photographers Now, features work by 33 contemporary artists exploring various aspects of identity, politics, and history.

Janelle Monáe has taken the concept album to complex heights,” writes the New Yorker.

Google Doodle team leader Jessica Yu says, “A moderate dose of imposter syndrome plus a strong work ethic can actually be quite helpful.”

Google featured 12 women artists to celebrate International Women’s Day. The Standard shares their list of ten artists.

The New York Times profiles Celia Paul

After four decades in the shadows as Lucian Freud’s partner, painter Celia Paul gains recognition for her “soulful and melancholy portraits.”

“[Sally] Mann’s fascinating clinical distance adds another eerie layer to [her] pictures,” says The New Yorker.

Oscar-nominated films with a woman in the starring role are more profitable that those with male protagonists.

NPR defines “inclusion rider” and its relevance in actress Frances McDormand’s Oscar acceptance speech.

Tayari Jones’s latest novel, An American Marriage, “upends all expectations, flipping the reader’s perceptions and offering unexpected moments of clarity.”

Atlantic staff writer Ed Yong writes an article titled “I Spent Two Years Trying to Fix the Gender Imbalance in My Stories.

The Guardian explores the ways in which the male gaze “is ruining our ability to see good art.”

New York Times critics chose 15 remarkable books by women embodying “unexplored possibilities in form, feeling and knowledge” in the 21st century.

Shows We Want to See

Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up, opening in June at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, will showcase more than 200 objects, including the artist’s makeup, clothes, jewelry, and prosthetic leg.

The Main Museum in Los Angeles highlights the work of L.A. native and ceramist Dora De Larios, one the city’s most vital, yet under-recognized artists.

The exhibition Women Artists—1st International Biennial of Macao features works by 132 female artists from 23 countries and regions.

Howardena Pindell’s first major solo exhibition is on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

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

Art Fix Friday: February 23, 2018

Although the three most popular movies in 2017 were female-driven, a study from San Diego State University discovered that “women accounted for 24 percent of protagonists in the 100 top-grossing domestic films of 2017, a decrease of five percentage points from the year before.”

However, women had more speaking roles in those movies, up two percentage points from 2016. Representation of women of color also improved slightly.

In other news, a recent survey of 850 women in the film industry found that 94% of respondents experienced sexual harassment or assault.

Front-Page Femmes

Peggy Cooper Cafritz, an arts patron, civil rights activist, educator and saloniste in Washington, D.C. passed away on February 18 at the age of 70.

NPR highlights Feel Free, Zadie Smith’s new essay collection.

Janet Echelman suspends a seemingly-weightless net sculpture made of 600,000 knots and 77 miles of twine for the 400th anniversary of Madrid’s Plaza Mayor.

The Katastwóf Karavan by Kara Walker will be on view this weekend in New Orleans on a site where African slaves were quarantined in the 18th century.

“As women in the art world rise up against abuse from collectors and others, will the culture that’s protected predators shift?” asks the Guardian.

Princeton University Press released an expanded edition of Anni Albers’s On Weaving.

Sofia Campoamor is the first woman ever selected for Yale University’s Whiffenpoofs, the oldest a cappella group in the country.

“Art history taught me I have no place in history,” says stand-up comedian Hannah Gadsby. “Women didn’t have time to think thoughts; they were too busy taking naps naked in the forest.”

Paula Rego discusses her path and approach to life-drawing.

The Harvard Library digitized Virginia Woolf’s photo albums, which are now available to the public.

Takako Yamaguchi’s hyperrealistic portraits of her subjects’ clothing “emphasize the elusiveness of identity.”

Actress Danai Gurira discusses the cultural impact of Marvel’s Black Panther.

Nezhat Amiri, Iran’s first-and-only female conductor, led a 71-member orchestra performing at Tehran’s most prestigious concert hall last month.

Pollock, a play by Fabrice Melquiot, “obscures [Lee] Krasner’s own story.”

Jennifer Crupi’s carefully constructed jewelry displays “non-verbal behavior, posture, and gesture.”

Shows We Want to See

Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle’s paper-and-ink portraits at the San Francisco Arts Commission raise awareness about black girls and women who have gone missing due to human trafficking.

Jayne County: Paranoia Paradise features more than 80 of County’s works, spanning 1982 to 2017. County was “punk rock’s first openly transgender performer. . . . but never quite got credit for her widespread influence.”

Women Look at Women, the inaugural exhibition at Richard Saltoun Gallery in Westminster, England, explores sexuality and the female body through a feminist lens.

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

Can You Name #5WomenArtists?

Can you name five women artists? Did your response include any women artists of color? Women artists, especially women of color, remain dramatically underrepresented and undervalued in museums, galleries, and auction houses. This March, for Women’s History Month, the National Museum of Women in the Arts is relaunching our award-winning social media campaign asking, “Can you name five women artists?”

NMWA began the #5WomenArtists campaign in March 2016. It elicited shock, provided a challenge, and sparked conversation about gender parity in the arts. During March 2017, more than 520 national and international cultural institutions and nearly 11,000 individuals joined the campaign to promote women artists in all 50 states and on seven continents.

NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling says, “There is no better time than now to raise awareness that the art world also disadvantages women’s opportunities and advancement, with women artists of color experiencing a double disadvantage in an already challenging field.”

Join NMWA and other institutions, including the National Gallery of Art, Tate, and Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture to share stories of women artists using the hashtag #5WomenArtists.

Here’s how you can get started:

Learn more about women artists through NMWA’s artist profiles

To kick off the month, learn more about five women artists featured in the museum’s programs, exhibitions, and collection:

For more than eight decades, Maria Martinez (1887–1980, San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico) continued and extended the centuries-old pottery traditions of San Ildefonso Pueblo.

Georgia Mills Jessup (1926–2016, Washington, D.C.) demonstrated diverse talent as a painter, sculptor, ceramicist, muralist, and collage artist.

Contemporary painter Li Shurui (b. 1981, Chongqing, China) uses an airbrush to add vibrant color to canvas to approximate the appearance of LED lighting popular in nightclubs and city settings.

Tanya Habjouqa (b. 1975, Amman, Jordan) is one of the founding members of the Rawiya photography collective and documents everyday life and social issues in the Middle East.

Graciela Iturbide’s (b. 1942, Mexico City, Mexico) photographs reveal the daily lives, customs, and rituals of Mexico’s underrepresented native cultures.

Want to help advocate for women artists? Starting March 1, take the challenge and post about #5WomenArtists on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and tag us @WomenInTheArts. Follow along with the month’s highlights on NMWA’s Women’s History Month webpage.

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

Art Fix Friday: February 16, 2018

The New York Times, Hyperallergic, and NPR share the unveiling of the official portraits of former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama on February 12 at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

NMWA artist Amy Sherald painted the former first lady’s portrait while Kehinde Wiley painted the former president. The New Yorker writes that Sherald “wondrously troubles assumptions about blackness and representation in portraiture.” The Washington Post discusses Sherald’s life battling a heart condition and her recent recognition. The Lily praises both Sherald and Wiley for creating “compelling likenesses without sacrificing key aspects of their signature styles.”

In a Quartzy article, NMWA Chief Curator Kathryn Wat says, “[Sherald’s] work offers a much livelier take on portraiture. It suggests that people are never of a singular personality and much more complex than we might ever imagine.”

Front-Page Femmes

Vogue highlights Lorna Simpson and her 30-plus-year career and her recent paintings.

“In recent months, three museum directors have stepped down from their jobs at major art institutions across the United States. All three resigned amid social justice crises or after championing programming with a political edge. All three are women,” writes Hyperallergic.

Artist Jennifer Rubell allowed visitors to pie her in the face after signing a detailed consent form, bringing to mind issues of gender, power, and sexual misconduct. The Art Newspaper shares the “fraught experience” of throwing a pie at someone.

Former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Ruth Ann Koesun passed away on February 1, 2018 at the age of 89.

Broadly interviews artist-friends Precious Okoyomon and Phoebe Collings-James about their experiences as immigrant black women and how their identities inform their respective works.

Embroidery artist Cayce Zavaglia creates intricate portraits using cotton and wool thread.

President and CEO of the New York Philharmonic Deborah Borda is committed to programming music by women for the 2018-19 season.

The Bossy collective campaign to buy the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London “with the aim of making it a venue that showcases female-led work.”

In the Atlantic, memoirist Terese Marie Mailhot shares how Maggie Nelson’s Bluets taught her to “explode the parameters of what a book is supposed to be.”

Shows We Want to See

MoMA features more than 100 works by Tarsila do Amaral, a pioneer of modern art in Brazil.

Figuring History, a group exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum, includes rhinestone encrusted works by Mickalene Thomas. The show features three new paintings by Thomas, inspired by sociopolitical issues of the 1960s and today.

In Detroit, Lucy Cahill’s NOW I WANNA… features “surreal, personal, and feminist” drawings, paintings, posters, and T-shirts.

Johanna Breading’s The Rebel Body at Angels Gate Cultural Center revisits the life of the last European woman to be executed for witchcraft.

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

Nameless but Not Forgotten: Hung Liu’s Portraits

Who defines history? The established historical cannon focuses more on world leaders, and less on the figures who toil in fields, fight in wars, and help drive important social and political movements. Hung Liu In Print, NMWA’s newest exhibition, features works by Chinese artist Hung Liu (b. 1948) that pay homage to the forgotten individuals who influence history.

Hung Liu In Print at NMWA

Liu is widely considered one of the most important contemporary Chinese artists working in the United States. Inspired by old Chinese photographs of unnamed individuals, Liu imbues her subjects with an air of both mystery and dignity. Her subjects often include farmers, prostitutes, mothers, and refugees. Liu says, “We need to remember where we come from; our history is with us and we carry it everywhere. My subjects in the prints are anonymous people—the ones who fight in the wars and provide food for us. They are not remembered for ‘making history’ as world leaders are, but to me they are the true makers of history.”

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

One of the works in the exhibition, Shui-Water (2012), portrays a young woman kneeling with her hands resting firmly in her lap. The subtly rendered landscape and the delicately outlined flowers on her clothing reference traditional Chinese painting. Like many of Liu’s subjects, the woman depicted confidently meets the viewer’s gaze. Liu’s subject, though anonymous, exudes power and dignity.

Liu grew up during the Cultural Revolution in China and witnessed mass famine during Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward, an economic and social movement that devastated China’s economy. Liu labored in rice and wheat fields in the countryside for four years. Although she studied painting during the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s, the Maoist regime required that she painted in a realistic style that did not allow for much personal expression. After being denied a passport by the Chinese government for three years, she immigrated to the United States in 1984 to attend the University of California, San Diego to continue studying art. Free from the restrictions of the Cultural Revolution, she developed her own artistic style.

Liu’s distinctive personal style combines naturalism with abstraction. While her figures are rendered with realistic detail, they are often situated in imaginative settings. Her characteristic drip marks are achieved by using a variety of printmaking techniques. For some prints, the dripping effect is created through irregular incisions cut into the wood. For others, she allows acid to drip directly onto the etching plate. Liu simultaneously preserves and dissolves the figures in the images. While the drip marks allude to the fading of old photographs and memories, the vivid colors illuminate her subjects, giving them a voice despite their anonymity.

Visit Hung Liu In Print in the Teresa Lozano Long Gallery through July 8, 2018.

—Kali Steinberg is the spring 2018 publications intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: February 9, 2018

Acclaimed portraitist Amy Sherald received the $25,000 David C. Driskell Prize from the High Museum Art in Atlanta for her contribution to the conversation about work by black artists.

The director of the High Museum says, “Sherald is a remarkable talent who in recent years has gained the recognition she so thoroughly deserves as a unique force in contemporary art.” Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama will be unveiled on February 12 at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Front-Page Femmes

Ariell R. Johnson, founder of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, discusses diversity in comics and the upcoming Black Panther Marvel movie.

The New York Times profiles Judy Chicago.

NMWA’s upcoming exhibition Women House makes the Washington City Paper’s 2018 Spring Arts and Entertainment Guide.

The Los Angeles Times and the Atlantic discuss a recent study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. In a gender breakdown of Grammy Award nominees, the study found and found that 90.7% of nominees between 2013 and 2018 were male.

“I think it would have been nicer to have not felt marginalized and invisible,” says Barbara Kruger. “Invisibility hurts. It hurts subcultures. It hurts your everyday, material life—whether you can get health care, a job, whether you are held in some degree of respect.”

The Cut interviews designer Laura Mulleavy on behalf of Rodarte, the fashion line run by sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy.

The New Yorker spotlights African American composer Florence Price.

Artsy features Shigeko Kubota as a pioneer in video art.

LaToya Ruby Frazier’s series documenting the Flint, Michigan water crisis is currently on view in New York.

Documentary photographer Susan Meiselas chronicles the lives “of ordinary people caught in the turbulent tide of history.”

Artsy shares that POWarts, the Professional Organization for Women in the Arts, launched a new salary survey to bring transparency and data to the industry.

Artsy reviews Baya: Woman of Algiers

Shows We Want to See

Baya: Woman of Algiers is the first U.S. solo exhibition of work by 19th-century Algerian painter and sculptor Baya Mahieddine. The exhibition celebrates the artist’s “multidimensional and brazenly expressive” female subjects.

The Whitney Museum of American Art hosts Too Much Future—an exhibition featuring a new body of work by Christine Sun Kim.

The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College hosts exhibitions featuring the works of Baseera Khan and Chiho Aoshima.

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

Art Fix Friday: January 26, 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin, award-winning science fiction and fantasy author, died at the age of 88. The New Yorker writes that Le Guin “never stopped insisting on the beauty and subversive power of the imagination. Fantasy and speculation weren’t only about invention; they were about challenging the established order.”

NPR reflects on her career and influence on other writers. The Guardian shares some of Le Guin’s essential novels. The New York Times remembers the author for her “tough-minded feminist sensibility to science fiction and fantasy.”

Margaret Atwood, in an article for the Washington Post, writes, “We can’t call Ursula K. Le Guin back from the land of the unchanging stars, but happily she left us her multifaceted work, her hard-earned wisdom and her fundamental optimism.”

Front-Page Femmes

“Money talks. Whose values?” says Barbara Kruger in an art21 video.

Elizabeth A. Sackler supports artist Nan Goldin’s campaign against another branch of the Sackler family that has profited from the opioid epidemic.

Photographer Lauren Greenfield discusses Generation Wealth, her new documentary capturing the lifestyles of the incredibly wealthy.

Andrea Geyer’s project “Revolt, They Said” represents the accomplishments of over 850 women, each of whom influenced the early and mid-1900s American cultural landscape—but who have since been overlooked.

“You have to learn to do what the picture tells you,” says 90-year-old Australian artist Helen Maudsley.

Conceptual artist Jill Magid wins the seventh edition of the Calder Prize.

Wallpaper interviews South African dancer Londiwe Khoza.

Hyperallergic shares creative signs from the Women’s March last weekend.

The New Yorker explores Alison Saar’s statue of Harriet Tubman, recently adorned with a pussy hat during the Women’s March.

Mickalene Thomas, Shinique Smith, and others create art for Los Angeles’s new metro line.

The Lily shares excerpts from the graphic novel Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World, by Pénélope Bagieu.

Faces Places, a documentary collaboration between director Agnès Varda and street photographer JR, earns an Oscar nomination.

Mudbound’s Rachel Morrison is the first woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for cinematography.

Shows We Want to See

In Her Image: Photographs by Rania Matar, on view at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, trace the development of female identity through portraiture.

ARTnews shares reviews of abstract artist Howardena Pindell’s work from their archives in advance of her exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Women’s Point of View at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. features photography, drawings, motion graphics designs, and clothing by 11 women artists from Dar al-Hekma University.

Renée Cox’s exhibition Soul Culture at the Columbia Museum of Art transmits “a message of oneness and unity through the meshing and interconnection of human bodies.”

The New York Botanical Garden will host Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai’i.

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

Artist Spotlight: Sylvia Snowden

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.

For more than five decades, Sylvia Snowden (b. 1942, Raleigh, North Carolina) has created vibrantly abstract works. Her palette ranges from dark and earthy to bright and artificial, and she incorporates textures with undulating forms.

Powerfully executed with vigorous gestural brushwork and aggressive pouring, Snowden’s June 12 (1992), on view in Magnetic Fields, conveys the energy of the artist’s own body in the act of making as well as the states of human relationships. June 12 towers over the viewer at a height of ten feet. Thickly applied paint seems to extend off of the canvas and toward the viewer, prompting questions about the artist’s process and how many gallons of paint were used.

This painting is part of a series honoring the artist’s parents, and was previously on view in an exhibition of Snowden’s work at NMWA in 1992. Titled after her parents’ wedding anniversary, June 12 pays homage to their relationship. About her exuberant use of color in the work, Snowden says, “My mother was attracted to color, and I grew up in a home with the use of strong color.”

Snowden’s improvisational painting style “comes from within, not an outside force to change styles,” says the artist. “Although I am able to paint in different styles, as I learned in the thorough training at Howard University, expressionism is my style. It is a communication between the canvas and me, which is governed by the intellectual and emotional states acting as one, a unification; examination of the subject matter and its treatment, figurative or without figure.”

Snowden earned a BFA and an MFA from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She has served as an artist in residence, visiting artist, and instructor in universities, galleries, and art schools both in the United States and internationally.

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