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Committee on Women in the Arts Picks for May 2016

posted by CAA — May 16, 2016

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.

May 2016

Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947–2016
Hauser Wirth & Schimmel
901 East 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA
March 13–September 4, 2016

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel opens its inaugural exhibition at its new Los Angeles space with Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947–2016. On view is one hundred works made by thirty-four artists over the past seventy years. The show traces how women have “changed the course of art by deftly transforming the language of sculpture since the post war period.”

“Works on view reveal their makers inventing radically new forms and processes that privilege solo studio practice, tactility, and the idiosyncrasies of the artist’s own hand.” The exhibition explores a variety of artistic approaches such as stacking, hanging, and intertwining, examining the role of this work within current practices and expanded definitions of sculpture.

In addition to known artists from the prewar era to today, the exhibition contains commissioned works by a new generation of sculptors, including Phyllida Barlow, Karla Black, Abigail DeVille, Sonia Gomes, Rachel Khedoori, Laura Schnitger, Shinique Smith, Jessica Stockholder, and Kaari Upson.

“Perhaps most significant of all, the discreet human body—a central preoccupation of women abstract sculptors in earlier decades—has now disappeared. In its place, the artists in the final section of ‘Revolution in the Making’ offer an empty space for the viewer’s own body. Moving through, under, around, and within these new sculptures, the visitor becomes partner and participant in the continuing quest to articulate the female experience through art.”

The Sister Chapel: An Essential Feminist Collaboration
Rowan University Art Gallery at Westby Hall
201 Mullica Hill Road, Glassboro, New Jersey
March 28–June 30, 2016

Rowan University Art Gallery presents The Sister Chapel, a series of paintings celebrating a “nonhierarchical, secular commemoration of female role models from a female perspective.” Originally conceived by Ilise Greenstein in 1974, The Sister Chapel, which takes its name from Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, was last show in 1980 before the pieces drifted into different collections.

The exhibition is presented for the first time in the initially conceived, twelve-sided fabric structure that was designed by the artist Maureen Conner and that includes work by twelve other women. Greenstein’s eighteen-foot abstract ceiling is suspended above a circular arrangement of eleven nine-foot canvases, each depicting a figure of a heroic women. The subjects of these portraits were determined by the individual artist: Bella Abzug – the Candidate, a portrait of the American Congresswoman and social reformer, painted by Alice Neel; Betty Friedan as the Prophet, a portrayal of the influential author of The Feminine Mystique, by June Blum; Marianne Moore, the American poet, by Betty Holliday; Frida Kahlo, the celebrated Mexican artist, by Shirley Gorelick; Artemisia Gentileschi, the seventeenth-century Italian Baroque artist, by May Stevens; Joan of Arc, the sainted fifteenth-century French military heroine, by Elsa M. Goldsmith; Lilith, the rebellious first wife of Adam, by Sylvia Sleigh; God, a female manifestation of the creator of the universe, by Cynthia Mailman; Durga, the powerful Hindu goddess, by Diana Kurz; Womanhero, a conceptual embodiment of female strength and power, by Martha Edelheit; and Self-Portrait as Superwoman (Woman as Culture Hero) by Sharon Wybrants.

The exhibition at Rowan is only the third time the individual components of this work has been shown together.

A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s–1980s
Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art
Northwestern University, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, IL
January 16–July 17, 2016

“This exhibition replaces the indelible image of Charlotte Moorman (1933–1991)—playing the cello topless save for a pair of strapped-on miniature television sets—with a more complex but equally powerful portrait of the girl from Little Rock, Arkansas, who metamorphosed into a seminal and barrier-breaking figure in performance art and an impresario of the postwar avant-garde.”

The Block Museum of Art transforms its two-story building, with its ground-floor gallery transformed into a double viewing room for screenings of videos, including rare footage from the Charlotte Moorman Archive. With loans from private collections, including that of Yoko Ono, the exhibition presents Moorman’s commitment to taking the avant-garde to the streets. Through an assortment of artworks, film clips, music scores, audio recordings, documentary photographs, snapshots, performance props and costumes, ephemera, and correspondence, Moorman’s career takes shape in full form.

“I have asked myself why Charlotte Moorman is largely missing from the narratives of 20th-century art,” says Lisa Corrin, the Block Museum’s Ellen Philips Katz Director and curator of modern and contemporary art. “She is mainly remembered as a muse to Nam June Paik, but she was much more. In light of her influence on contemporary performance and her role as an unequaled popularizer of the avant-garde it is long overdue for her to be appreciated as a seminal figure in her own right.”

The companion exhibition Don’t Throw Anything Out, the scope of the Charlotte Moorman Archive at Northwestern University is explored with selection of objects and media ranging from Moorman’s double-barreled, heavily notated Rolodex to audio recordings of greetings and voice messages saved from her telephone message machine.

A Feast of Astonishments will travel in fall 2016 to New York University’s Grey Art Gallery in Manhattan and to the Museum der Moderne Salzburg in Austria in spring 2017.

Teresa Jaynes: Common Touch: The Art of the Senses in the History of the Blind
Library Company of Philadephia
1314 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
April 4–October 21, 2016

The Library Company’s Louise Lux-Sions and Harry Sions Gallery presents Common Touch: The Art of the Senses in the History of the Blind, a multimedia exhibition of new works by the Philadelphia-based artist-in-residence Teresa Jaynes. Common Touch explores the nature, foundations, and limits of perception through the juxtaposition of Jaynes’s multisensory artwork—in which sight does not dominate—with historical materials documenting the education of visually impaired people in the nineteenth century. At its heart, Common Touch is the story of an artisan, a mathematician, a composer, and a surveyor. Drawing on their accomplishments, the artist developed “first person constructions” for each, infused with the geometric and abstract forms that were fundamental to the education of the blind in the nineteenth century. These forms were tools used to navigate and perceive the physical world—a radical approach years before the beginnings of modernism.

For more than twenty-five years, Jaynes has created installations and artist’s books based on extensive research in special collections and libraries, including the Rosenbach Museum and Library, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and the Newberry Library. Common Touch follows The Moon Reader, Jaynes’s interactive art installation that invites participants to learn through touch a raised-letter writing system for the blind invented by the blind educator William Moon in 1845. Designed as a primer, the book begins with an exercise for learning Moon that is then followed by “lessons” related to geometry, geography, botany, and astronomy. The stories and diagrams are taken from the Michael Zinman Collection of Printing for the Blind at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

As in previous Jaynes’s research-based projects, through art and artifact, Common Touch examines transformations in our understanding of sight while exploring the nature and limits of perception. The experience as a whole is intended to expand the “readers” understanding of historical and contemporary connotations of sight through curiosity, humor, and empathy.

Claudia DeMonte, Sarah Hinckley, Hayv Kahraman, Toyin Odutola, Lisa Ruyter, and Laurie Simmons: Making her Mark
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main Street, Waterbury, CT 06702
April 17–June 5, 2016

The Mattatuck Museum presents Making Her Mark, a multimedia exhibition of work by six female contemporary artists curated by Lauren P. Della Monica. The artists featured in the exhibition—Claudia DeMonte, Sarah Hinckley, Hayv Kahraman, Toyin Odutola, Lisa Ruyter, and Laurie Simmons—range from emerging talent to renowned international artists. Such diversity bears witness to their experiences as female artists over the past few decades in an art world often criticized for undervaluing the contributions of deserving women artists. Their professional successes are testament to their talents and are especially compelling at a time of heightened interest in women’s roles in the arts and their presence on the walls of museums.

This show includes a range of diverse work from abstract and representational paintings to drawings, sculpture, and photography created by artists at various stages of their careers, each of whom is making a significant contribution to the overall cannon of contemporary art, all making their marks as leaders in the field. These artists address their personal experiences and backgrounds through their work, drawing upon an array of geographic and cultural influences—such as DeMonte’s Italian American heritage, Odutola’s African and African American upbringing, Kahraman’s childhood in Iraq, or Hinckley’s New England roots—and presenting these influences with an understanding of their continuing impact on their work. Ruyter and Simmons document popular culture’s influence by transforming pop-culture images into works of fine art. Viewing this spectrum of work collectively allows the audience to form a broader view of the contemporary social context as the works themselves also address global issues such as feminism, cultural identity, and universalism.

The exhibition is sponsored in part by the Connecticut Community Foundation with promotional partnership from Saint Mary’s Hospital’s Spirit of Women program.

Janine Antoni, Anna Halprin, Stephen Petronio: Ally
Fabric Workshop and Museum
1214 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
April 21–July 31, 2016

The Fabric Workshop and Museum is presenting Ally, a series of works combining sculpture, installation, film, and performance created through the Artist-in-Residence Program. The art and dance project conceived and performed by Janine Antoni was initiated by herself in collaboration with the choreographer, theater, and community artist Anna Halprin and the pioneering choreographer Stephen Petronio.

In Ally, Antoni pursues her interest in bodily presence, touch, and movement through a series of unique collaborations in which the trio investigates the translation of ideas across forms and the vast potential that lies in their relations. The encounter between these artists from diverse practices and generations becomes a means of unearthing unknown affinities and historical entwinements, forging a new visual language and tactile experiences within processes of transformation.

Conceived by Antoni “as a kind of retrospective of my art making told through dance,” the project has evolved into a truly collaborative creation that allows the three artists to find a way to continue making new work while reflecting in their previous practices. The exhibition comprises four projects: Rope Dance, Swallow, The Courtesan and the Crone,and Paper Dance. Once a week for fourteen weeks Antoni will perform Paper Dance, an improvised movement performance that draws on images and concerns which have long preoccupied her as an artist. Antoni (born in the Bahamas, 1964) uses rolls of brown paper originally employed by Halprin (born in Winnetka, Illinois, 1920) in her seminal work Parades and Changes (1965). These performances take place within an installed arena of many wooden packing crates containing artworks by Antoni. Each iteration calls for Antoni to begin by unpacking one of her earlier works from a crate, whether it be a sculpture made of chocolate and soap like Lick and Lather (1993) or a photographic image like Mortar and Pestle (1999). Throughout the series of performances, a “retrospective” of Antoni’s previous works slowly emerges, remaining for a week, then disappearing as they are repacked into the installed crates.

Ally, in Petronio’s words, means a project “fundamentally about connection. And part of that is three distinct artistic languages coming together to meet in the gap between art and dance.”


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