#5WomenArtists Goes Global

In honor of Women’s History Month, the museum launched the second year of its award-winning #5WomenArtists social media campaign, which asks, “Can you name five women artists?” The museum invited cultural organizations and individuals to share stories about women artists on social media throughout the month. The campaign inspired a discussion about gender imbalance in the art world in the U.S. and internationally—to great success! Check out a few highlights of the campaign:

One staff member dressed as Frida Kahlo brought the challenge to Washington, D.C. streets.

Overall, the month was filled with consciousness-raising digital initiatives. Forty-four participants edited 83 Wikipedia articles about women artists in the fifth annual Wikipedia edit-a-thon hosted at the museum. Part of the Art+Feminism initiative, edit-a-thon participants used the museum’s resources to improve entries about women artists. NMWA offered a daily scavenger hunt in the museum and hosted a before-hours InstaMeet for local photographers to explore and snap photos of the museum’s newly reinstalled collection galleries. NMWA staff shared their favorite works by women for International Women’s Day.

The museum also “took over” other institutions’ social media accounts to share the stories of women artists with a broader digital community, including sharing nature-themed works from @BalboaPark’s Instagram, collection highlights from the Brightest Young Things accounts, and the museum’s mission and history from the @52museums handle. NMWA’s collection works also anchored the all-women #ArtMadness “bracket,” the Albright-Knox Gallery’s NCAA March Madness-themed competition.

#5womenartists posts on Instagram

#5womenartists posts on Instagram

Many organizations included #5WomenArtists in their own Women’s History Month programming. The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art invited five women artists to speak about their experiences and the Royal British Columbia Museum hosted a museum happy hour event highlighting contemporary First Nations artists. Manor View Elementary School even created a bulletin board dedicated to the campaign. Individual participants reflected on the campaign, including one tweet stating, “#5WomenArtists has been one of the more influential hashtags for me. I knew at least five when I first saw it, but can name many more now!” Another Twitter user said, “The #5WomenArtists challenge is one of my favorite times of the #MuseSocial year! Thanks, @WomenInTheArts.” The challenge also inspired other hashtags, including #5WomenScientists and #5ArtistasMujeres.

Explore campaign highlights on the museum’s Women’s History Month web page. Continue to advocate on behalf of women artists and celebrate their accomplishments all year. Every month is Women’s History Month at the museum!

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

Challenge Accepted: Can You Name Five Women Artists?

Ask someone to name five artists and responses will likely include names such as Warhol, Picasso, van Gogh, Monet, da Vinci—all male artists. Ask someone to name five women artists, and the question poses more of a challenge.

Back by popular demand this March, the National Museum of Women in the Arts continues to ask, “Can you name five women artists?” This simple question calls attention to the inequity women artists face, inspires conversation, and brings awareness to a larger audience. Last year, the campaign struck a chord, and tens of thousands of posts were shared on social media. This year, more than 200 institutions from 50 states, 22 countries, and seven continents have already signed on to participate.

Join us throughout the month to share stories of women artists using the hashtag #5WomenArtists on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Challenge your family and friends.
  2. Share posts about your favorite women artists.
  3. Share a work by a woman artist at a museum or gallery near you.
  4. Explore NMWA’s artist profiles to discover artists you may not know.
  5. Get the facts about art world inequality and track campaign updates all month long.

To kick off the month, learn more about five influential women artists from the museum’s collection who defied expectations:

Left to right: Lavinia Fontana, Portrait of a Noblewoman (ca. 1580) and Maria Martinez and Julian Martinez, Jar (ca. 1939); NMWA; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Left to right: Lavinia Fontana, Portrait of a Noblewoman, ca. 1580 and Maria Martinez and Julian Martinez, Jar, ca. 1939; NMWA; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Renaissance painter Lavinia Fontana (1552–1614) is regarded as the first professional woman artist. For 20 years beginning in the 1580s, Fontana was the portraitist of choice among Bolognese noblewomen. Not only was Fontana the breadwinner of her family, she also gave birth to 11 children.

For more than eight decades, Maria Martinez (1887–1980) revived and continued the centuries-old black-on-black pottery traditions of San Ildefonso Pueblo in northern New Mexico. Through her creative vision and skill, Martinez influenced generations of artists.

Left to right: Clementine Hunter, Untitled, 1981; NMWA, Gift of Evelyn M. Shambaugh; Lola Álvarez Bravo, De generación en generación, ca. 1950; NMWA, Gift of the Artist; © 1995 University of Arizona Foundation, Center for Creative Photography

Entirely self-taught and immensely prolific, Clementine Hunter (ca. 1887–1988) earned critical acclaim for vibrant paintings depicting life in the Cane River region of central Louisiana. Hunter did not start painting until the 1940s, when she was already a grandmother.

Lola Álvarez Bravo (1907–1993) was one of Mexico’s first professional women photographers, documenting daily life and portraying prominent world leaders. Like her friend Frida Kahlo, Álvarez Bravo celebrated the traditional costumes and customs of her country’s varied regions. She cannily blended nationalist content with the expression of universal human emotions.

Lee Krasner, The Springs, 1964; NMWA, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; © 2012 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Lee Krasner (1908–1984) was one of the first generation of Abstract Expressionist painters. Through six decades devoted to art, she explored innovative approaches to painting and collage. Often overshadowed by her husband, Krasner declared, “I’m always going to be Mrs. Jackson Pollock . . . but I painted before Pollock, during Pollock, after Pollock.”

Want to help advocate for women in the arts? Starting March 1, take the challenge and post about #5WomenArtists on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and tag us @WomenInTheArts.

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