WASHINGTON—The second installment in the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ (NMWA) Women to Watch exhibition series examines innovative approaches to a traditional subject; figure painting. Body of Work: New Perspectives on Figure Painting features work by eight emerging artists from the U.S. and U.K. The exhibition is on view July 2, 2010, through September 12, 2010.
NMWA’s biennial exhibition series Women to Watch features emerging or underrepresented artists from the states and countries in which the museum has outreach committees. Outreach committees throughout the U.S. and in Europe work to support the museum’s mission in local communities. The eight committees participating in Body of Work consulted with contemporary art curators in their respective regions to create shortlists of artists who specialize in the theme of this year’s exhibition—figure painting. NMWA Curator of Contemporary Art, Kathryn A. Wat, then selected the eight artists featured in the exhibition. Women to Watch increases the visibility of outstanding contemporary artists who are working in innovative ways.
Women to Watch 2010 Artists and Nominating Committees
Mequitta Ahuja (Texas): Ahuja (b. 1976) manipulates the surface of the canvas to reveal the instability of social constructions such as race and gender. Using her own body as her subject, her self-portraits emerge from masses of texture and pattern that evoke the continual creation of an identity.
Hannah Barrett (Massachusetts): Art history meets contemporary theory in Barrett’s (b. 1966) work. With a historically-inspired style drawing on traditions of portraiture, black-and-white photography and collage, her paintings feature figures of ambiguous gender.
Julie Farstad (Greater Kansas City Area): Contrast is also at the center of Farstad’s (b. 1974) surreal paintings in which dolls are stand-ins for girls or women. A pointed contrast to typical images of girlhood passivity, Farstad’s aggressive narratives question how feminine identity is eventually formed.
Nikki Hemphill (Arkansas): Hemphill (b. 1985) explores nostalgia as a primary theme. Her inventive medium—pastel on wood panel—provides a space for reinterpreting old family photographs. Playing with the detail of her figures, she evokes the duality of memory which can seem equally vivid and hazy.
Jennifer Levonian (Pennsylvania): At the intersection of painting and film, Levonian (b. 1977) creates stop action animated films from her own paintings that she cuts up and rearranges. Central to her work is wonder at the expressive potential of the human body.
Kate Longmaid (Vermont): A clinical psychologist as well as an artist, Longmaid (b. 1960) focuses on both the characteristics of her models as well as her own subjective viewpoint as an artist. Through her distinctive color palette and brushwork, she calls into question the entire process of looking and being seen.
Ann-Marie Manker (Georgia): Manker (b. 1970) balances two approaches to the portrayal of women: those centering on the ultra feminine girly-girl and the tough woman emoting great strength. Taking cues from Japanese animation and pop culture, she creates images of an adorable girl thriving in a world of ambiguous intentions.
Rose Wylie (United Kingdom): Drawing on sources ranging from Renaissance art to quotidian everyday objects, Wylie (b. 1934) portrays the human form in a free-wheeling, associative manner. Her rough lines and off-kilter compositions allude to the comic aspects that underpin much of our human experience.
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National Museum of Women in the Arts
National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), founded in 1981 and opened in 1987, is the only museum solely dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women in the visual, performing and literary arts. The museum’s permanent collection features 4,000 works from the 16th century to the present created by more than 1,000 artists; including Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, Alma Thomas, Lee Krasner, Louise Bourgeois, and Chakaia Booker along with special collections of 18th-century silver tableware and botanical prints. NMWA is located at 1250 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., in a landmark building near the White House. It is open Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday, noon–5 p.m. For information, call 202-783-5000 or visit www.nmwa.org. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for visitors 65 and over and students, and Free for NMWA Members and youth 18 and under.