CAA News Today

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.

August 2015

Beverly Semmes: Feminist Responsibility Project (FRP)
Weatherspoon Art Museum
Bob and Lissa Shelley McDowell Gallery, University of North Carolina, 500 Tate Street, Greensboro, NC 27413
May 24–September 6, 2015

The Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro presents the Feminist Responsibility Project (FRP) by the New York artist Beverly Semmes. The exhibition features drawings, ceramics, suspended and illuminated glass sculpture, and video work.

“The metaphors and imagery of Beverly Semmes’s art typically flow in this direction: from the female body and out into the landscape,” Ingrid Schaffner wrote in the 2011 exhibition catalogue from Rowan University Art Gallery. This is noticeably experienced through the large fabric sculpture, Buried Treasure, on view at the Weatherspoon. Buried Treasure, made of black crushed velvet, has one arm of the dress snaking its way off the wall and across the floor of the gallery, enveloping the active space. Continuing to connect mediums in space, her video, Kick, depicts Semmes kicking a reddish-pink potato across icy terrain, the color reflective of the pot sculptures dotting the gallery landscape.

“Her totemic and abstract works create alternative lenses from which to see the body in relationship to domestic or natural landscapes,” says the Weatherspoon exhibition description. In her works on paper, Semmes manipulates photographs in vintage “gentlemen” magazines, as she calls them, covering various parts of the depicted female bodies in ink to perform “a personal act of feminist censorship, blotting out the literal to leave behind abstract, nuanced images that speak in a different voice.”

Semmes will be at the Weatherspoon on Thursday, September 3, 2015, at 6:00 PM for an artist’s talk.

Linda Nochlin: Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader
Edited by Maura Reilly
Recent book release

In addition to two new essays in this recently released volume, Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader, readers are treated to twenty-nine of Nochlin’s essays over her career, including “Women Artists after the French Revolution” and “Starting from Scratch: The Beginnings of Feminist Art History.”

The new anthology includes the provocative essay, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”—a continuing relevant question. In May of this year, ARTnews revisited Nochlin’s groundbreaking 1971 essay (originally published in ARTnews), exploring women in the arts today, and including eight contemporary artists replies to Nochlin’s essay. In the New York Times Sunday Book Review, the journalist Chris Kraus acclaims, “Nochlin writes with a dazzling mix of erudition and candor, but what’s most remarkable about her work is that it’s driven by an exhaustive investigation as to why and how certain artworks have been meaningful to her.”

Presenting artist monographs alongside the essays, the volume collects Nochlin’s writings on artists such as Mary Cassatt, Louise Bourgeois, Cecily Brown, Kiki Smith, Miwa Yanagi, and Sophie Calle, written in a voice that feels as contemporary as when they first appeared. Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader is published by Thames and Hudson and edited by Maura Reilly, founding curator of the Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.

A. L. Steiner: Come & Go
Blum and Poe
2727 South La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90034
July 2–August 22, 2015

The press release from Blum and Poe presents the new exhibition Come & Go by the artist A. L. Steiner in dramatic fashion: “Between the interlude of state-sanctioned exploitation and violence, the Amerikkkin project of mass incarceration and slavery, the uncertain future of California’s viability, and planetary implosion, A. L. Steiner presents an overview of her photo archive from 1995–2015.”

Despite the chance of planetary implosion, the exhibition by Steiner is a constructed “relaxing space” dedicated to the viewing of print work. Sparsely covered white walls are adorned only with a limited number of photographs and collages, while attention in the gallery is focused on a wooden desk and file system. Through the installation, and with an archivist on hand daily, the audience is encouraged to explore twenty years of Steiner’s work.

“A. L. Steiner utilizes constructions of photography, video, installation, collage, collaboration, performance, writing and curatorial work as seductive tropes channeled through the sensibility of a skeptical queer eco-feminist androgyne,” her website bio states.

In addition to the exhibition, Steiner has collaborated with a “revolving cast of subversives and interlocutors,” including a collaboration with Shinichiro Okuda/WAKA WAKA and additional live performances by Brave Accepter, Jibade-Khalil Huffman on August 15, and YACHT on August 22; and an archivist to guide viewers daily, 10:00 AM–1:00 PM and 2:00–6:00 PM.

Women Make Movies: 2015 Catalogue
Online and Print Resource

This thirty-two-page special-edition catalogue is the first in ten years released by Women Make Movies. Focused on their collection, the catalogue includes briefs and data on classics that focus on feminism and gender studies as well as films from diverse regions from across the globe. Highlighted are Academy Award winners such as Saving Face, “a harshly realistic view of violence against women in South Asia,” and new releases, Regarding Susan Sontag and Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth—illuminating portraits of the literary giants.

The catalogue is meant to facilitate rental or purchasing access to the Women Make Movies holdings. Established in 1972, Women Make Movies is a “multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization, which facilitates the production, promotion, distribution and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women.” They provide distribution services and production assistance programs, while facilitating feminist media, including a special emphasis to support work by women of color.

Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960–1971
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019-5497
May 17–September 7, 2015

The Museum of Modern Art presents the first One Woman exhibition dedicated to the work of Yoko Ono. This retrospective is a survey of the decisive decade that led up to Ono’s unauthorized exhibition (One Woman Show, Museum of Modern [F] art, 1971), revalorizing one of the most misunderstood artists of the last sixty years.

Featuring Ono’s most celebrated pieces between 1960 and 1971, the exhibition brings together approximately 125 of Ono’s early objects, works on paper, installations, performances, audio recordings, and films, alongside rarely seen archival materials. During these years, Ono (born in Tokyo, 1933) moved between New York, Tokyo, and London. A pioneer in the international development of Conceptual art, experimental film, and performance art, Ono was then creating artworks that could exist as mere instructions, meant to be executed once, multiple times, or none. Since her early projects are often based on verbal or written instructions, the exhibited pieces focus in the participation on viewers, where the artist generously opens up to their diverse responses to “complete” her pieces, or perhaps towards a sense beyond a One-Woman proposal, but rather an invitation to a collaborative creativity.

Among the exhibited pieces to be highlighted are Grapefruit (1964), Ono’s influential book of instructions; the typescript for which is displayed here page by page—consisted of nothing but terse, open-ended instructions for readers to follow—and Half-A-Room (1967), an installation of bisected, incomplete, white-painted domestic objects. The film Cut Piece (1964), documentation of one of Ono’s seminal performances, is also on view. Here, Ono confronted issues of gender, class, and cultural identity by asking viewers to cut away pieces of her clothing as she sat quietly on stage. Cut Piece remains one of the most disturbing works of performance art of the 1960s, that stands as a foundation of feminist and body-centered art.

A Feminist Fiber Art Exhibition
Traveling Exhibition and Call for participation
First venue opens August 14, 2015

Organized by Iris Nectar Studio, this DIY feminist art exhibition will feature female artists from around the world whose practice focus on fiber art. The project will take the form of an art crawl throughout the Boston area, with an opening on August 14. The project was inspired by the “Guerrilla Girls’ statistics” of women underrepresented in the art world. Originally envisioned as a little exhibit to take place in a single venue for a few weeks, the initiative was transformed into a traveling exhibition using alternative art spaces all across the greater Boston area because of overwhelming response and support. The exhibition will evolve slightly, with a different lineup of artists in each new space.

The Feminist Fiber Art Exhibition will feature artwork created by artists that identify as female. The constantly growing collection include the witty—knitting from the Icelandic artist Ýrúrarí, the historic and esoterically influenced—as well as work with strong female characters embroided by Alaina Varrone (New Haven, Connecticut), “pubism” pieces by Sally Hewitt (England), and “retex” (recycled textile) sculptures from the London-based German artist Jess de Wahls. The project online also features a zine, a blog, and a call for participation.

Michelle Stuart: Topographies: Drawings & Photographic Works 1968–2015
Marc Selwyn Fine Art
9953 South Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
July 18–September 5, 2015

Marc Selwyn Fine Art is pleased to announce Topographies: Drawings & Photographic Works 1968–2015, an exhibition by the New York–based artist Michelle Stuart. Stuart (b. Los Angeles, 1933) is a multidisciplinary artist best known for a rich and diverse practice, including site-specific earth works, intimate drawings, multimedia installations, paintings, sculpture, and photographs, all centered on a lifelong interest in the natural world and the cosmos. Her work questions conventional notions of drawing as it merges performative rubbing and frottage gestures with elements of the landscape itself. Stuart brings forth imagery by both adding natural materials and revealing the texture of the earth, combining the fundamentals of both drawing and photography.

Each work is a unique meditation on the nature of memory, digitally printed on sheets of archival paper. The individual panels feature untouched and altered elements, including appropriated vintage images and her own photographs, combined in a filmic manner. These dreamlike recollections of her past not only continue her life-long artistic engagement with specific locations, but also affirm the significance of place as a unique source of memory.

The exhibition highlights include #9 Zen, an iconic scroll that will be accompanied by a selection of works on paper, ranging from early collages such as Traces to more recent indexical works in which earth and seeds are pressed and merged onto her paper supports. The second gallery features a selection of her cinematic photographs, including the walk-about narratives of The Beginning, Islas Encantadas,and Past Shadows, Orkney.

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