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Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship. The following exhibitions and events should not be missed. Check the archive of CWA Picks at the bottom of the page, as several museum and gallery shows listed in previous months may still be on view or touring.

October 2015

Dress/Shield
Lump Project
505 South Blount Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
October 2–31, 2015

Lump Project celebrates its twentieth anniversary in Raleigh, North Carolina, with Dress/Shield, an exhibition by six female artists whose identity as women underpin the work. Represented in the exhibition are: Leah Bailis, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Lee Delegard, Brooklyn, New York; Lydia Moyer, Covesville, Virginia; Molly Schafer, Chicago, Illinois; Tory Wright, Greenville, South Carolina; and Laura Sharpe Wilson, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Each artist has a history of showing at Lump, and the exhibition will feature diverse processes, including sculpture, textiles, video, photography, and works on paper. “This group show is an opportunity to see how the perception of those voices changes when they are in chorus and to explore the connections between the work of women artists who are disparate in geography and media.”

“Schafer and Wright respond to recent motherhood with drawing, photographs and intricate paper-cut (respectively) while Moyer frames the experience of being female through text-based work that references local and national politics. Bailis does so with quilts that double as full-body masks; Delegard uses painting and sculpture to explore relationships between desire, consumerism, and the body. Sharpe Wilson, whose practice is most often painting, expands on her nature-inspired work with an installation of newly created textiles referencing historical social concerns.”

Cover of the exhibition catalogue for Public Works: Artists’ Interventions 1970s–Now

Public Works: Artists’ Interventions 1970s–Now
Mills College Art Museum
5000 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94613
September 16–December 13, 2015

The Mills College Art Museum explores the public practice by women artists from the 1970s to the present. The multimedia exhibition includes audio, documentation, ephemera, photography, prints, and video examining “the inherent politics and social conditions of creating art in public space,” and examining public works beyond monumental artworks.

Public Works focuses on the often small but powerful temporary artistic interventions found online and in the urban environment. Through various tactics, the exhibition explores themes of public space, public expression, public action, public platforms, and public life through the evolving lens of participatory projects, socially engaged performance, and political action, among other media.”

Featured are the artists Amy Balkin, Tania Bruguera, Candy Chang, Minerva Cuevas, Agnes Denes, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Karen Finley, Coco Fusco, the Guerrilla Girls, Sharon Hayes, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Jenny Holzer, Emily Jacir, Suzanne Lacy, Marie Lorenz, Susan O’Malley, Adrian Piper, Laurie Jo Reynolds and Tamms Year Ten, Favianna Rodriguez, Bonnie Ora Sherk, Stephanie Syjuco, and Mierle Laderman Ukeles. New commissions include performances by Constance Hockaday and Jenifer K. Wofford, produced in collaboration with Southern Exposure (San Francisco, California). A full-color catalogue with texts by María del Carmen Carrión, Courtney Fink, Christian L. Frock, Leila Grothe, Stephanie Hanor, Meredith Johnson, and Tanya Zimbardo is available.

Faith Wilding: Fearful Symmetries
Armory Center for the Arts
145 North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91103
September 26, 2015–January 3, 2016

The Armory Center for the Arts features the performance artist Faith Wilding’s first retrospective from her studio practice spanning the past forty years. Highlights include works on paper, including drawings, watercolors, collage, and paintings. The exhibition focuses on themes of “becoming,” with Wilding’s work exploring pivotal moments between private and public.

“Viewed together in this exhibition, her work makes a powerful impression about psychological and physical transition and transformation. In the depiction of the chrysalis and the embryo, for example, gestation is suggested, while in imagery of tears, wounds, and ‘recombinant’ bodies, emergence and materialization are pronounced. The sum of these parts provides a unique account of how themes of emergence were central to Wilding’s articulation of feminism, and her own reflections on a childhood growing up in an intentional Christian commune.”
Wilding, a prominent in the formation of the first Feminist Art Program, in Fresno, California, in 1970, and later at California Institute of the Arts, was also a contributor to the famous Womanhouse exhibition housed in an abandoned mansion in Los Angeles in 1972, where she performed Waiting.

The traveling exhibition is organized by Threewalls in Chicago, Illinois. Concurrently OxyArts Gallery at Occidental College will present selections from Wilding’s archive that document her work with the collaborative research and performance group subRosa, rare videos of performances made throughout her career, and papers and publications dating from her participation in the feminist art movement in the 1970s.

Women’s Art Society II
MOSTYN
Galleries 2 + 3, 12 Vaughan Street, Llandudno LL30 1AB, Wales, UK
July 18–November 1, 2015

MOSTYN presents the second edition of Women’s Art Society. Curated by Adam Carr, Women’s Art Society II is the fourth in a series of exhibitions that reflects on the rich heritage and history of the gallery building. Each exhibition in the series will examine the history of MOSTYN and its building, and how that history is tied to events beyond its context locally, nationally and internationally. With the aim to update the spirit of the original Ladies’ Art Society, this particular exhibitions discusses the history of MOSTYN and its building, while bridging the divide between past and present.

Women’s Art Society II follows an exhibition presented in October 2013 that took as its starting point the gallery’s founding in 1902. Mostyn Art Gallery was commissioned by Lady Augusta Mostyn and the first gallery in the world built specifically as a home for the presentation of artwork by female artists, in this case the work of the Gwynedd Ladies’ Art Society, who were denied membership of male-dominated local art societies on the basis of their gender. Women’s Art Society II continues the spirit of the original Ladies’ Art Society, inviting nine internationally active female artists to introduce work in the gallery space more than one hundred years later. This exhibition is also a survey of the discipline of painting today since the works in display ranges of approaches, styles, and conceptual concerns about the continued relevance of painting.

The exhibition includes works by Cornelia Baltes, Sol Calero, Ditte Gantriis, Lydia Gifford, May Hands, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Ella Kruglyanskaya, Shani Rhys James, and Caragh Thuring. Artworks on view are linked to the history of the original society by the way in which they examine the politics of gender, identity, and regulation, and aspects of exclusion and prejudice.

Shahzia Sikander: Parallax
Guggenheim Bilbao
Avenida Abandoibarra, 2, 48009 Bilbao, Spain
July 16–November 22, 2015

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao’s film and video room is currently inhabited by Parallax, Shahzia Sikander’s three-channel animation work. The installation, composed of hundreds of digitally animated images, combines abstract, representational, and textual forms that coexist and urge for domination. Along the moving images, human voices recite in Arabic six poems written specifically for the video on subjects that oscillate from regional historic context to reflections on human nature. In fact, that fluctuation reflects Parallax’s inspiration by the idea of conflict and control. Focused on the geostrategic position of the Strait of Hormuz and the area’s historical power tensions, such concepts emerge as the core themes of a perspective stretching from modern history to the postcolonial period. Underpinning the narrative is Sikander’s interest in paradox, societies in flux, and formal and visual disruption as a means to cultivate new associations.

The Pakistani-born American artist Shahzia Sikander (1969) is best known as a pioneer in translating the formal constructs of Indo-Persian miniature painting in a variety of formats and mediums in contemporary art, including video, animation, and mural, as well as for her collaborations with other artists.

Zina Saro-Wiwa: Did You Know We Taught Them How to Dance?
Blaffer Art Museum
University of Houston, 120 Fine Arts Building, Houston, TX 77204
September 26–December 19, 2015

Did You Know We Taught Them How to Dance? is the first solo museum exhibition of the British-Nigerian artist Zina Saro-Wiwa. It will open at Blaffer Art Museum in September 2015 and travel to the Krannert Art Museum in 2016.

Saro-Wiwa (Nigeria, 1976) has left a journalism background to change (and challenge) the way the world saw Africa. This is made evident in the new photographs, video, and a sound installation produced in southeastern Nigeria from 2013 to 2015. The project engages Niger Delta region residents both as subjects and collaborators and reflects the complex and expressive ways in which people live in an area historically fraught with the politics of energy, labor, and land, while making visible the cultural, spiritual, and emotional powers propelling the region, addressing also the global circulation of energy capital.

Being the artist’s current interest focused in mapping emotional landscapes, Did You Know We Taught Them How to Dance? unfolds a narrative device that renders environmental and emotional ecosystems as inseparable. Through the exploration of highly personal experiences and a carefully recorded choreography, Saro-Wiwa makes tangible the space between internal experience and outward performance. The exhibition uses folklore, masquerade traditions, religious practices, food, and Nigerian popular aesthetics to test art’s capacity to transform and to envision new concepts of environment and environmentalism. The artist reflects on spirit, emotion, and culture at the center of the conversation by titling the exhibition with a phrase from a private conversation between her and her father, the late writer, environmentalist, and human rights activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa.

For the Blaffer Art Museum, Saro-Wiwa will also stage a feast performance called The Mangrove Banquet: A love letter to the Niger Delta, offering her guests an opportunity to ingest the region’s agricultural bounty, “an experience designed to elicit the triumph of nature, imagination and the feminine over political despair.”

 

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