The Sky’s the Limit

Hand-painted, leaded glass chandelier, wood figurine, vintage glass bottles, chandelier ornaments, birdcage, steel, wood pedestal, lace, cowry shells, taxidermy deer paws, Indian marriage jewelry, ostrich eggshells, porcelain doll hands, silver leaf, gold leaf, wire, linen cord, and marble baby doll hands
Oct 21, 2023, to Feb 25, 2024

The contemporary sculptures in this exhibition dangle from the ceiling, cascade down walls, and extend far beyond their footprint on the gallery floor. Process-focused sculptures were pioneered by women creators in the mid-20th century, and they continually expand and redefine this medium.

Through the postwar years, curators and critics routinely ignored or minimized women’s innovations in sculpture, which included handwork, repetition, and unconventional materials. Today, scale and a focus on materiality are two techniques that sculptors use to achieve maximum impact. Monumentality expresses an artistic freedom for many makers. Artworks on view feature an array of found objects with strong cultural associations, including silver-plated vessels, hair combs, faux flowers, ostrich eggs, and parasols. Other works on view are composed from aluminum, blown glass, wool, paper, wire, and cedar wood.

Recent acquisitions and never-before-exhibited works by Sonya Clark, Beatriz Milhazes, Cornelia Parker, Mariah Robertson, Shinique Smith, and Joana Vasconcelos form the core of the exhibition. Several NMWA collection artists: Petah Coyne, Alison Saar, Davina Semo, Ursula von Rydingsvard, and Yuriko Yamaguchi, made available new works from their studios and connected the museum to private collections holding their art. Works by artists Rina Banerjee and Johanna Unzueta are on view at NMWA for the first time in The Sky’s the Limit.

From its opening in 1987, NMWA committed to collecting and exhibiting visionary sculpture by women. As the museum prepares to open the doors of its revitalized building, this exhibition expresses the museum’s dedication to illuminating artists’ illimitable impact and influence.

A sculpture made of colorful fabric tied into a round form hanging from a strip of black fabric. A smaller ball of yellow fabric hangs below with a ribbon.

Shinique Smith, Daisies up your butterfly, 2013; Clothing, fabric, ribbon, rope, and fashion accessories, 38 x 22 x 27 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Sara M. and Michelle Vance Waddell and the Ohio Advisory Group; © Shinique Smith; Photo by Jason Mandella

Exhibition Sponsors

The Sky’s the Limit is organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. This exhibition is underwritten by Presenting Sponsor Denise Littlefield Sobel.

Curatorial research funds were provided by Marcia Myers Carlucci. Additional support for the exhibition catalogue comes from The Deborah Buck Foundation.

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    In an art gallery with white walls, a long, snake-like piece of metallic paper printed with splotches of black, blue, purple, and orange in an abstract pattern is partly affixed to the wall. At one point the paper falls from the wall and cascades onto the floor and further into the room.

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