Press Room

Contemporary artists explore and expand on the qualities of metal in Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018

Mar 22 2018

On view June 28–Sept. 16, 2018

WASHINGTONThe National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) presents Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018, which highlights contemporary women artists working with a variety of metals and techniques to create artworks such as wall-size installations, exquisite jewelry and reinventions of familiar objects. On view June 28–Sept. 16, 2018, the exhibition features 20 artists and more than 50 works of art made from silver, copper, bronze, pewter, aluminum and more.

Inspired by NMWA’s collection of silverwork crafted by British and Irish women in the 18th and 19th centuries, Heavy Metal seeks to further disrupt the predominantly masculine narrative that surrounds metalworking despite women’s consistent presence in the field for centuries. This narrative is rooted, in part, in the gendered discourse surrounding the traditional distinctions between fine art, design, craft and decorative art. While large-scale bronze and steel sculptures made by men are hailed as “fine” art, subtle and more delicate works in metal, towards which women have been historically encouraged, are often dismissed as craft or “decorative” art.

“The idea that metalworking is too physically demanding for women to do is pervasive in historical as well as contemporary discourse,” said NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling. “The contemporary artists selected for the 2018 installment of Women to Watch—and NMWA’s own collection of 18th and 19th-century silver by women—contradict this archaic notion.”

Heavy Metal is the fifth installment in NMWA’s dynamic Women to Watch exhibition series, which is presented every two to three years. The series features emerging or underrepresented artists from the states and countries in which the museum has outreach committees. Twenty participating committees worked with curators in their respective regions to create shortlists of artists working with metal. From these lists, NMWA curators selected the artists whose work is on view in Heavy Metal.

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National Museum of Women in the Arts