First Looks: NO MAN’S LAND

NMWA’s new contemporary exhibition NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection opened with a bang. On Thursday, September 29, NMWA members enjoyed a first look at the exhibition during Member Preview Day and the public celebrated with a special evening reception.

KAP_NMWA_NoMansLand_-147

Attendees study work by Kerstin Brätsch (left) and Karin Davie (right); Photo: Kevin Allen

NMWA presents a new vision of the exhibition, which opened in December 2015 at the Rubell Family Collection (RFC)’s 45,000-square-foot Miami facility. The new presentation features paintings and sculptures by 37 artists from 15 countries. Stemming from the 1970s feminist art movement, NO MAN’S LAND plays with images of the female body and the process of making, subverting the convention of handcraft as “women’s work” into a beautiful, visual conversation reclaiming the female form.

Rubell Family Collection Director Juan Roselione-Valadez

Rubell Family Collection Director Juan Roselione-Valadez leading a tour during the opening reception; Photo: Kevin Allen

The event brightened a rainy Thursday for all the attendees. Members gained early access to the exhibition through tours led by knowledgeable and engaging curatorial and education staff. Each thematic tour focused on different aspects of the collection. One member described the day as “an excellent experience that highlighted talented women and prompted important conversation.” During the day members received perks at the Mezzanine Café and in the Museum Shop, featuring the NO MAN’S LAND catalogue and the gag nutcracker that inspired artist Jennifer Rubell’s attention-grabbing Lysa III.

NMWA’s Great Hall: Photo: Kevin Allen

NMWA’s Great Hall; Photo: Kevin Allen

Evening reception attendees sported glow stick accessories and enjoyed Miami-inspired appetizers and drinks—including zesty mini tacos and a specialty mojito—while DJ Elodie Maillot energized the crowd. Collectors Don and Mera Rubell were also in attendance and chatted with guests about the works on view.

From Brazilian artist Maria Nepomuceno’s immersive work to Karin Davie’s large-scale optical illusion, the power and playfulness of NO MAN’S LAND captivated its premier audience. Guests left the museum with smiles and compliments, lamenting the evening’s end and vowing to “return again soon to study the exhibition further.”

Intrigued? Become a member today and take part in the next Member Preview Day! Check the online calendar for more information about upcoming gallery talks and programs. Visit NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, on view through January 8, 2017.

—Caroline Byrd is the fall 2016 membership intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Mod Women (and Men): NMWA’s Late Night Costume Party

The National Museum of Women in the Arts experienced a blast from the past on October 30 for NMWA Late Nights: Mod Women (and Men). Costumes, dancing, cocktails, and tours accompanied the after-hours party for NMWA’s exhibition opening of Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today. The exhibition, organized by the Museum of Arts and Design, highlights women’s contributions to modern design and the way their aesthetic has influenced contemporary art.

NMWAModsterMash-2016

Left: NMWA’s Great Hall, Right: Vintage Vagabond pop-up in the Museum Shop; Jack Hartzman Photography

The museum’s Great Hall was filled with 300 guests decked out in their finest mod-inspired outfits, highlighting the exhibition’s midcentury theme. As guests arrived they were welcomed by the Vintage Vagabond pop-up shop in the Museum Shop. The first of its kind at NMWA, the pop-up shop enabled attendees to peruse a selection of vintage apparel including gloves, dresses, and kitten heels. Guests also received prop cat-eye and wayfarer glasses that were perfect for the photo booth.

NMWAPathmakers-1052

Visitors examine Dorothy Liebes’s work in Pathmakers; Jack Hartzman Photography

Visitors explored the exhibition through staff-led spotlight tours. They enjoyed the eye-catching, industrial bench by Vivian Beer and marveled at a metallic textile work by Marianne Strengell.

Examining the intersections between art and mass production, visitors were intrigued by Eva Zeisel’s timeless ceramics—coveted for decades everywhere from posh antique shops to Crate and Barrel.

Between tours exploring the more than 80 works in Pathmakers, the multigenerational audience was entertained by songs ranging from swing music to ’90s pop. Guests mingled while resting on sleek lounge furniture worthy of the Mad Men set and enjoyed signature “Mod Martinis” with Green Hat Gin, “Mad Mai Tais” with Plantation Rum, and a fully stocked fondue bar and pigs in a blanket supplied by Well Dunn Catering.

NMWAModsterMash-2141

Mod Women (and Men) attendees; Jack Hartzman Photography

The night’s enthusiastic attendees helped celebrate the opening of Pathmakers in style. Throughout the event, NMWA staff scoped out the best costumes and awarded a prize to the winner—though it was hard to choose! Costumes featured attire inspired by the 1950s, psychedelic hippies, and the iconic Jackie O.

NMWAModsterMash-2079

Attendees with cat-eye glasses (right) and dancing (left); Jack Hartzman Photography

Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today is on view through February 28, 2016. Stay tuned for news about the next event, explore #ModsterMash and #NMWAnights for more posts, see more pictures on Pinterest, and check out the museum’s calendar for upcoming listings.

—Bria Burditt is the development events intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Far-Out Fun: “Pathmakers” Member Preview Day

On Thursday, October 29, NMWA members gained advance access to the new exhibition Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today. In the post-war period, women artists were often excluded from more male-dominated fine arts fields like painting and sculpture. Instead, many worked in craft and design, combining traditional methods with innovative approaches and materials, and achieved great success. These midcentury trailblazers cleared the path for contemporary artists and designers—whose work is also shown in Pathmakers.

MEMBER-DAY

Jennifer Scanlan speaks to members in Pathmakers; Photo: Elizabeth Lynch

To kick off the day, members gathered on the museum’s mezzanine level for refreshments and mingling before exploring the exhibition. They attended special tours of Pathmakers led by guest curator Jennifer Scanlan, who organized the show at the Museum of Art and Design in New York. On the tours, Scanlan discussed the varied ways in which artists elevated mediums like weaving, ceramics, and metalwork to the realm of fine art.

Visitors marveled at the mesmerizing, complex wire sculpture of Ruth Asawa, admired the fluid forms and simplicity of Eva Ziesel’s ceramics, and glimpsed into a re-creation of the UN Delegates’ Lounge interior designed by Hella Jongerius.

IMG_8318-b

Members explore Gabriel Maher’s work; Photo: Elizabeth Lynch

Members also had the opportunity to attend tours of the exhibition Esther Bubley Up Front. Featuring works by photojournalist Esther Bubley, the exhibition reveals how Bubley’s photographs capture revealing and poignant portraits of American life in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s.

In honor of the Pathmakers sneak peek, the Museum Shop stocked a pop-up shop full of authentic 1950s and ’60s clothes and accessories supplied by Vintage Vagabond. Members also enjoyed discounts off of purchases from the Mezzanine Café and the Museum Shop.

Take part in the next round of Member Preview Day festivities and become a member today! Visit the museum to explore Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today, open through February 28, 2016.

—Marina MacLatchie is the education and digital engagement intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Food, Drink, and Fun: After Hours at NMWA!

Last Thursday, the museum held NMWA Nights: Earthly Delights, an after-hours event featuring two new exhibitions, Super Natural and Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015. Hosted together with members of the Young pARTners Circle, NMWA Nights provided staff-led tours of the exhibitions for over 100 attendees.

Attendees explore exhibition artworks, including Organic Matters artist Dawn Holder's Monoculture; Photo credit: Laura Hoffman

Attendees explore exhibition artworks, including Organic Matters artist Dawn Holder’s Monoculture; Photograph: Laura Hoffman

Super Natural features women artists who do not simply document nature but treat the natural world as a space for discovery and invention. Historical and contemporary depictions of plants, animals, and natural landscapes are juxtaposed to show the diverse ways that nature has inspired women artists.

Organic Matters is a part of a series presented every two to three years in which the museum’s national and international committees nominate up-and-coming women artists from their region to exhibit at NMWA. This year’s 13 selected artists work with the subject of nature in mediums ranging from photography to fiberglass.

Guests contribute paper flowers to a collaborative floor installation

Flowers in a collaborative installation; Photograph: Laura Hoffman

Between tours, guests met on the Mezzanine to sip on the specialty cocktail, cleverly named “Metamorphosis.” Participants sampled an array of tasty snacks—provided by Dirty South Deli in collaboration with Union Kitchen—all while listening to tunes by DJ Flying Fortress.

In the Great Hall, attendees explored their crafty side by pushing the boundaries of paper. Guests sculpted flowers and contributed them to a collaborative art project.

The floor installation featuring everyone’s paper flora and fauna was inspired by Organic Matters artist Rebecca Hutchinson’s Patterns of Nature.

Many added to a projected photo collage by instagramming their artwork and photo booth fun with the hashtag #NMWAnights.

Everyone who instagrammed—anything from floral photos to face-in-the-hole shots of collection artwork—was entered into a photo contest to win delightful prizes. Check out @womeninthearts on Instagram to see what people captured!

To stay informed about future NMWA Nights, networking events, and other fun and enriching opportunities, please visit the online calendar or join the Young pARTners Circle.

—Bridget Mazet is the development intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Judy’s Diamond Jubilee

Today is a very special day for the legendary Judy Chicago—her 75th birthday!

Over her 75 years, Judy Chicago has made a prominent name for herself as an artist, author, educator, and source of inspiration for men and women all over the globe. After producing installation pieces such as Womanhouse (1972) and The Dinner Party (1975), Chicago achieved international stardom as a pioneer of the feminist art movement in the 1970s.

Judy Chicago at NMWA with museum Founder Wilhelmina Cole Holladay; Photo Laura Hoffman

Judy Chicago at NMWA with museum Founder Wilhelmina Cole Holladay; Photo: Laura Hoffman

In order to commemorate this dynamic period of Chicago’s career and the coinciding feminist movement, NMWA held an exhibition of her work earlier this year, Judy Chicago: Circa ’75. In March, Chicago visited the museum for an opportunity to speak to NMWA’s members and guests about the exhibition as well as her newest book, Institutional Time: A Critique of Studio Art Education.

During the conversation, Chicago applauded NMWA, saying, “as long as MoMA is a museum of men, we need a museum for women in the arts.” She described her regular past visits to the museum, noting how “every time I walk into [NMWA] I see my predecessors and what they had to go through to get here.”

At the end of the discussion, NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling presented Chicago with personalized cards to celebrate her birthday and pay homage to her incredible artistic achievements. Chicago was touched by the heartfelt gesture by the members, noting that she wanted to read their notes right then and there.

Cards from NMWA members to Chicago: “Thank you for sharing wisdom and beauty with your powerful art!”

Cards from NMWA members to Chicago: “Thank you for sharing wisdom and beauty with your powerful art!”

In Institutional Time, Chicago discusses her legacy, stating “I became determined to use my time on earth to create art—as much of it as possible . . . and to make a place for myself in art history.” Now, on her 75th birthday, Chicago has irrefutably, permanently left her mark on modern discourses of art history. Happy birthday to this visionary artist!

—Olivia Zvara is the member relations intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Membership, Mission, and Masterpieces

From NMWA’s founding in 1981 to the public opening of the museum in 1987, to the exhibitions and programs that have kept NMWA’s audiences educated and entertained throughout the years, the success of the National Museum of Women in the Arts depends on the loyal support of members. With thousands of members around the U.S. and abroad, NWMA’s membership is large, enthusiastic, and connected to the museum’s mission.

Members with Elena Brockmann's painting "Philip II Receiving the News of the Loss of the Invincible Armada," 1895; Members' Acquisition Fund

Members with Elena Brockmann’s painting Philip II Receiving the News of the Loss of the Invincible Armada, 1895; Members’ Acquisition Fund

In addition to supporting the museum’s special exhibitions, valued NMWA members have helped the museum to add numerous works to the collection—by distinguished artists such as Elena Brockmann, Chakaia Booker, Lesley Dill, and Judy Chicago. Works by these artists were acquired in part from the Members’ Acquisition Fund—which is built a few dollars at a time, when members add to their annual donations—and represent a wide range of mediums, time periods, and genres.

While Brockmann’s enormous work, Philip II Receiving the News of the Loss of the Invincible Armada, is an example of large-scale history painting from 19th-century Spain, Judy Chicago’s preparatory drawing for Emily Dickinson’s place setting in her iconic installation The Dinner Party is an emblem of the American feminist movement of the 1970s.

Chakaia Booker, Acid Rain, 2001; Museum purchase: Members’ Acquisition Fund

Chakaia Booker, Acid Rain, 2001; Museum purchase: Members’ Acquisition Fund

Members have also helped NMWA purchase contemporary installation pieces such as Booker’s Acid Rain, which deals with themes including the intersection between domestic femininity and the traditionally masculine realms of construction and technology. Lesley Dill’s I Heard a Voice, another contemporary work, provokes individual reflection through imagery related to nature, the body, literature, and the spirit.

These wonderful additions to the collection are just a few of the many works NMWA members have helped the museum to acquire.

In celebration of the summer season and the subsequent influx of visitors to NMWA, June has been designated as Membership Month. If you’d like to help NMWA celebrate the artistic accomplishments of women, please join today.

In honor of Membership Month, NMWA sends a special thanks to all of the members who have supported the museum over the years! Feel free to use the comments section to tell a story about the museum or let us know about your favorite accomplishment by members.

—Olivia Zvara is the member relations intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

NMWA’s New York Avenue Sculpture Project: Magdalena Abakanowicz

To honor Magdalena Abakanowicz (b.1930) on her 84th birthday, NMWA anticipates the upcoming public installation of her work on New York Avenue for one year beginning this September, as the third artist in the New York Avenue Sculpture Project. Groups of her signature monumental headless human figures, accompanied by flocks of simplified bird forms in flight, will fill the median to create a haunting, dynamic scene of masses in motion.

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Walking Figures (group of 10), 2009; Bronze, each approximately 106 ¼ x 35 ⅜ x 55 ⅛ in.; All images © Magdalena Abakanowicz, Courtesy of Marlborough Gallery, New York

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Walking Figures (group of 10), 2009; Bronze, each approximately 106 1/4 x 35 3/8 x 55 1/8 in.; All images © Magdalena Abakanowicz, Courtesy of Marlborough Gallery, New York

Viewers can often be most intrigued by artwork that juxtaposes dueling elements within a single form. This ambiguity—a “push-pull” sensation—makes it difficult for audiences to ascribe a definitive meaning to the work. They are driven to contemplate and more fully engage with the art in order to fix on a personal interpretation.

Abakanowicz’s large-scale figurative sculptures achieve this alluring duality, providing the viewer both a listless crowd and static memorial. With firsthand experience of the traumas of WWII in Poland as a child, and as a leader of the fiber arts movement of the 1960s, the artist communicates her sensibilities of loss and creation through these zombie-like forms.

Magdalena Abakanowicz, 4 Seated Figures, 2002; Gift of Patti Cadby Birch and partial museum purchase: Members’ Art Acquisition Fund

Magdalena Abakanowicz, 4 Seated Figures, 2002; Gift of Patti Cadby Birch and partial museum purchase: Members’ Art Acquisition Fund

A NMWA collection highlight, 4 Seated Figures (2002), currently on view in the Rose Benté Lee Sculpture Gallery, exemplifies these strangely seductive tensions in her work. The burlap-and-iron figures, appearing to be reconstructed from shed human skin, are halting yet enticing, solid yet empty, animated yet frozen, delicate yet heavy, and somber yet hopeful still.

These crumbling representations of the human body also attest to the limitations and uncertainties of the human experience—in our lives many things remain unknowable, inconceivable, and incomplete. The presence of Abakanowicz’s enigmatic figures on New York Avenue, in the midst of the District’s commuters and visitors, gives viewers a reason to pause and reflect on the inherent ambiguity of their own journeys.

Read more about the upcoming exhibition, on view September 27, 2014–September 27, 2015.

—Kelly Johnson is the publications and marketing/communications intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She is pursuing her MFA at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Curatorial Practice.

Members & Mashups: Video Art Preview Day

Last Thursday, NMWA members visited the museum for a sneak peak at our newest exhibition, Total Art: Contemporary Video. Member Preview Days are hosted by NMWA’s staff the day before new exhibitions open to the public. They provide members with exclusive access to each new show as well as access to special talks and programs.

Members listened to an in-depth talk about the artists and works in Total Art

Members listened to an in-depth talk about the artists and works in Total Art

Highlighting the works of 10 contemporary artists, this exhibition is NMWA’s first-ever exhibition to focus primarily on video art. The exhibition features works by Dara Birnbaum, Kimsooja, Mariko Mori, Mwangi Hutter, Alex Prager, Pipilotti Rist, Michal Rovner, Margaret Salmon, Eve Sussman/Rufus Corporation, and Janaina Tschäpe.

MemberPreview_1_IMG_7184In order to accommodate all 10 works—with individual viewing spaces that provide optimal light and sound for each video installation—NMWA’s curatorial team redesigned and transformed the second floor gallery space. Newly constructed walls, sound boards, paint, and dimly lit spaces create a totally immersive viewing environment.

To kick the day off, NMWA members gathered in the Great Hall for a tasty spread of refreshments and an opportunity to mingle. They were then treated to a special lecture by Chief Curator Kathryn Wat and Curatorial Fellow Rachel Gustafson. During the lecture, Wat discussed video as an all-encompassing art form that incorporates film, photography, choreography, and audio. This presentation allowed members to gain a deeper understanding of video art, one of the newest artistic mediums, and the impact it will have will have on art history. The curators provided context and background for all 10 works of art, giving members greater insight into the narratives and production methods.

MemberPreviewDay_3_IMG_6991After the lecture, members enjoyed tours and group discussions led by the museum’s curatorial and education staff. During these sessions, members asked questions specific to each work and discussed their impressions of the avant-garde exhibition. Members were thrilled to have a behind-the-scenes perspective on this cutting-edge medium.

Throughout the day, members were treated to 20% off purchases at the Mezzanine Café and the Museum Shop. Members also had the opportunity to explore NMWA’s collection galleries and receive a free gift from the Member Relations Department before they departed for the day!

Would you like to take part in the next batch of Member Preview Day fun? Join today, and visit the calendar for a list of upcoming events.

—Olivia Zvara is the member relations intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Member Preview Day: A Sweet Success!

On Valentine’s Day, NMWA members were treated to a delightful day, along with some tasty snacks! Those who attended snuck a peak at NMWA’s two newest exhibitions, A World Apart: Anna Ancher and the Skagen Art Colony and Freya Grand: Minding the Landscape

Anna Ancher and Michael Ancher, Judgment of a day's work (detail), 1883; Oil on canvas; Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

Anna Ancher and Michael Ancher, Judgment of a day’s work (detail), 1883; Oil on canvas; Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

A World Apart provides a glimpse into the life of one of Denmark’s premier female painters, Anna Ancher (1859–1935). Ancher was commended for her artistic talent during her lifetime, but remains little-known in the U.S.  She was respected by colleagues—including her husband, painter Michael Ancher—in the predominantly male art colony in Skagen, a remote coastal town on the northern tip of Denmark. The couple collaborated on a piece, Judgment of a day’s work, that is on view in A World Apart. Ancher’s works, many of which depict interiors, are complemented nicely by the striking landscapes of Freya Grand in NMWA’s other spring exhibition, Minding the Landscape.

Grand, a D.C.-based artist, has traveled the globe in search of remote and breathtaking landscapes for her subject matter. Her works capture specific moments in time, such as a wave breaking on the rocks, drawing viewers into her experiences of the awesome power of nature.

NMWA curators lead tours of Freya Grand: Minding the Landscape

NMWA curators lead tours of Freya Grand: Minding the Landscape

On Member Preview Day, members received tours of the Grand and Ancher exhibitions throughout the day, led by NMWA’s curatorial and education staff. A wonderful time was had by new and veteran members alike! One member, who had never been to an NMWA member event before, noted that her tour guide was knowledgeable, friendly, and had excellent pronunciation. Another member wanted us to know that she enjoyed her day: “Both exhibits were inspiring, excellent, wonderful—featuring artists only the Women’s Museum would promote!” She added that she was “very proud to be a benefactor.”

Members tour A World Apart

Members tour A World Apart

Between tours, members gathered in the museum’s stunning Great Hall to enjoy tea, coffee, and an array of scrumptious mini cupcakes in honor of Valentine’s Day. Many had lunch at the museum’s Mezzanine Café and visited the Museum Shop, receiving a special Member Day discount of 20% at both locations. Members also explored NMWA’s collection galleries and received a free gift from the membership department before they left for the day!

One member stated, “My neighbor is so impressed that she plans to join as a member!”  If you would like to take part in the next batch of Member Day fun, join today at http://www.nmwa.org/support/membership. For a list of our upcoming events, visit: http://www.nmwa.org/visit/calendar .

—Abigail Luhn is the member relations intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

The Innovative Anna Ancher

Now open at NMWA, A World Apart: Anna Ancher and the Skagen Art Colony showcases over 60 paintings by the avant-garde Danish painter and her contemporaries at Skagen, a seaside artists’ community in northern Denmark.

On Member Preview Day, visitors view Michael Ancher's Anna Ancher returning from the field, 1902

On Member Preview Day, visitors view Michael Ancher’s “Anna Ancher returning from the field,” 1902

Ancher, the only female Skagen artist to receive high acclaim and sustain a lifelong career, consistently tested the bounds of painting. NMWA Associate Curator Virginia Treanor highlights Ancher’s interiors, sometimes devoid of human presence, as “evidence of Ancher’s interest, not in replicating the reality of the room or wall, or even the light, but rather what is left when these things are stripped away and all that remains are color and form.”

Rejecting idealized subject matter, the Skagen painters captured the reality around them. The exhibition’s thematic sections include images of Skagen’s rural landscape, the Anchers, hard-working townspeople, domestic interiors, and breakthrough works that showcase Anna Ancher’s stylistic innovations.

Anna Ancher, Sunlight in the blue room, 1891; Courtesy of Skagens Museum

Anna Ancher, Sunlight in the blue room, 1891; Courtesy of Skagens Museum

A catalogue published with the exhibition contains full-color images of the Skagen artists’ works, historical photos of the artists’ community, and essays by Helga Ancher Foundation board member Elisabeth Fabritius and Skagens Museum curator Mette Bøgh Jensen. As Fabritius says, “Anna Ancher’s art is unlike that of anyone else. In its essence it is tied to the special world of motifs in Skagen: the fishermen’s families, the harvesters, the heathers, the special colors, and the brilliant summer light.” The respect she received for her artistic contributions was “unusual—a happy exception to the social conventions of that age.”

A World Apart is on view through May 12, 2013, and the 144-page exhibition catalogue is now on sale in the Museum Shop.

Visit NMWA on February 20 for a gallery talk with Mette Bøgh Jensen, check out other exciting programs, and don’t miss this special exhibition!