Press Room

Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today

Sep 22 2015

Featuring more than 40 midcentury and contemporary artists exploring concepts of Modernism

WASHINGTON—The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) presents Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today, an exhibition that explores the lasting impact of women artists and designers on midcentury Modernism. On view Oct. 30, 2015–Feb. 28, 2016, the show presents more than 80 objects including furniture, ceramics, textiles, jewelry, and art. Reflecting the continuing popularity of midcentury design today, the exhibition also includes a selection of contemporary work that builds upon the accomplishments of an earlier generation.

In the 1950s and ’60s, an era when painting, sculpture, and architecture were dominated by men, women had considerable impact with alternative materials such as textiles, ceramics, and metals. Visionaries in these fields include Ruth Asawa, Edith Heath, Sheila Hicks, Karen Karnes, Dorothy Liebes, Alice Kagawa Parrott, Lenore Tawney, and Eva Zeisel. This group came to maturity along with the emerging American modern craft movement and had influence as designers, artists, and teachers.

“For these mid-20th-century women, architecture and industrial design were essentially closed male societies. So they had to create their own professional pathways through ceramics, textiles, and metals. They also found freedoms in academia, where their ideas helped inspire the next generation. The resulting serious, conceptually crafted objects helped define midcentury Modernism in the U.S.,” said NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling. “The exhibition also highlights contemporary artists influenced by these taste-makers—women who are working today in the interstices between the useful object and conceptual aesthetics.”

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National Museum of Women in the Arts