posted by CAA — May 31, 2023
CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts (CWA) curates a seasonal list of must-see exhibitions. The CWA Summer 2023 picks highlight the rich contributions of women-identifying African, Latinx, and Indigenous artists, bringing their voices to the forefront. These artists explore the legacies of their respective mediums and their enduring significance in contemporary art. Unafraid to tackle pressing social issues, their works offer a powerful lens through which to examine themes of gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity. By amplifying marginalized perspectives, these exhibitions provoke meaningful conversations and challenge existing narratives in the art world.
Tender Loving Care
July 22, 2023–July 28, 2025
Museum of Fine Art, Boston
This exhibition explores the theme of care through contemporary art. The act of creating and appreciating art is a form of care, and the exhibition highlights how artists address this concept through their materials, ideas, and processes. The exhibition showcases around 100 works from the museum’s collection, organized into five thematic groupings: threads, thresholds, rest, vibrant matter, and adoration. Examples of care in art can be seen in Gisela Charfauros McDaniel’s portrait of her mother, Nick Cave’s Sound Suit, and textiles and fiber art by Sheila Hicks, Howardena Pindell, and Jane Sauer. Through these works and others, visitors are invited to consider how care can inspire new models for living and feeling in the present and the future.
Creativity in the Time of COVID-19: Art as a Tool for Combatting Inequity and Injustice
August 25–September 30, 2023
Buffalo NY: Squeaky Wheel, Buffalo Arts Studio + Buffalo Game Space
In collaboration with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Michigan State University, and SUNY Buffalo’s Amatryx Lab & Studio, this exhibition features a range of BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and Buffalo-based artists and creatives to center marginalized experiences of the pandemic and social justice concerns.
Through August 20, 2023
Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco
BLACK VENUS, curated by Aindrea Emelife is an exhibition that surveys the legacy of Black Women in visual culture – from fetishized, colonial-era caricatures to the present-day reclamation of the rich complexity of Black womanhood by 18 artists (of numerous nationalities and with birth years spanning 1942 to 1997). This exhibition is a celebration of Black beauty, an investigation into the many faces of Black femininity and the shaping of Black women in the public consciousness – then and now.
In BLACK VENUS, archival depictions of Baartman and other historical Black women pair with the vibrant, narrative portraiture by some of today’s most influential Black image-makers whose work deals with layered narratives of Black femininity.
This exhibition reckons with difficult visual histories. It features some themes and images that are derogatory and many that are empowering. Sensitive visitors should be aware that several artists in the exhibition employ nudity and sexual imagery to explore their ideas.
Amalia Mesa-Bains: Archeology of Memory
Through August 13, 2023
UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), Berkeley
Amalia Mesa-Bains: Archaeology of Memory is the first retrospective exhibition of the work of longtime Bay Area artist Mesa-Bains. Presenting work from the entirety of her career for the first time, this exhibition, which features nearly 60 works in a range of media, including fourteen major installations, celebrates Mesa-Bains’s important contributions to the field of contemporary art locally and globally.
Shaped by the Loom: Weaving Worlds in the American Southwest
Through July 9, 2023
Bard Graduate Center, NYC
Shaped by the Loom: Weaving Worlds in the American Southwest invites you to explore the world of Navajo weaving. This dynamic gallery and online experience presents never-before-seen textiles created by Diné artists. These historic blankets, garments, and rugs from the American Museum of Natural History are situated alongside contemporary works by Diné weavers and visual artists, such as Barbara Teller Ornelas and Lynda Teller Pete. Shaped by the Loom highlights seasonal cycles that guide the harvesting of dye plants, the cosmologies that inform a weaver’s work, and the songs, stories, and prayers that are woven into every piece. The items in the exhibition will be accompanied by artist interviews, interactive storytelling, and stunning panoramic views of the Navajo Nation. Shaped by the Loom elevates the voices of Indigenous artists and makers to express the cultural legacy and continued vibrancy of weaving traditions in the American Southwest.
The Figure, Reclaimed
A Renaissance of the female body in visual culture
July 5–August 4, 2023
Carolla Arts Exhibition Center, Missouri State University
Throughout the history of visual culture, figurative painting has been regarded as one of the highest forms of Western art. Dazzling displays of hyper-realistic anatomical mastery and expansive narrative scenes depicting multiple figures through complex perspectives dominated as the pinnacle of art-making for centuries. While the artists of these historic images were all white male painters, it was the female body that was often leveraged for these narratives. Further, female artists were also excluded from painting these historic scenes and denied access to nude models to even attempt to study the art of figural painting.
The Figure, Reclaimed, seeks to celebrate and explore the Renaissance of the female body and the female figurative painter in visual culture. Through the work of Aneka Ingold and Livia Xandersmith, this exhibition explores how female figurative painters have combined the traditional art of figurative painting with contemporary, stylized approaches to redefine and expand upon what it means to be a figurative painter, ruminate on the female experience, and how representations of the female body are consumed.
As women face losing bodily autonomy in today’s contemporary society, what does it mean to be a female figurative painter in today’s context? What stories must be told on the scale of figurative painting about what it means to identify as a woman today? Why is the female body a contested landscape, and why does this form hold a sense of home base for visual culture? Is it the embodied connection to humanity and life?
Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich: Too Bright to See
Perez Art Museum, Miami
Through January 7, 2024
Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich (b. 1987) is a filmmaker and artist whose work blends narrative and documentary traditions to explore stories and experiences of Black women in the Americas.
Hunt-Ehrlich’s experimental narrative artwork Too Bright to See (Part I) draws on her extensive research on the legacy of Suzanne Roussi-Césaire, a writer and anticolonial and feminist activist from Martinique who, along with her husband, Aimé Césaire, was at the forefront of the Négritude movement during the first half of the 20th century. Roussi-Césaire would also become an important Surrealist thinker, influencing the likes of painter Wifredo Lam and writer André Breton. However, despite her critical contributions to Caribbean thought and Surrealist discourse, until recently much of her work was overlooked.
Too Bright to See (Part I) weaves archival materials with cinematic narrative scenes filmed with an unconventional and modern cast. Drawing inspiration from Caribbean aesthetics and Surrealist artwork, this film installation brings attention to new aspects of Roussi-Césaire’s legacy that are undocumented in the public arena, while addressing the broader question of the continued erasure of women from historical accounts.
Carrie Mae Weems: Reflections for Now
Barbican Art Gallery, London
June 21–September 3, 2023
Opening 22 June 2023, Barbican Art Gallery is proud to present the first major solo exhibition of Carrie Mae Weems in a UK institution. Widely considered to be one of the most influential American artists working today, Weems (b.1953) is celebrated for her exploration of cultural identity, power structures, desire, and social justice through a body of work that develops questioning narratives around race, gender, history, class and their systems of representation.
Highlighting her remarkably diverse and radical practice, this survey brings together an outstanding selection of photographic series, films, and installations spanning over three decades, many of which have never been seen before in the UK. Presenting the development of her unique poetic gaze and formal language from the early 1990s to the present day, this exhibition reflects on Weems’s pioneering career. On display are works from her early iconic Kitchen Table Series (1990) which explores how power dynamics are articulated in the domestic sphere and the potential of the home as a space for resistance, to her acclaimed series Roaming (2006) and Museums (2016) where Weems’s muse confronts architecture as the materialisation of political and cultural power. Her oeuvre challenges dominant ideologies and historical narratives created by and disseminated within science, architecture, photography, and mass media.
The exhibition is accompanied by Carrie Mae Weems: Reflections for Now, the first publication devoted to the artist’s writings. It will highlight Weems’s influence as an intellectual, reflecting the dual nature of her career as an artist and activist. A public programme of events, including a programme of films in Barbican cinema, will also run throughout the course of the exhibition.
Gio Swaby: Fresh Up
Through July 3, 2023
Art Institute of Chicago
Gio Swaby is a multidisciplinary artist whose textile-based practice explores the intersections of Blackness and womanhood. Her embroidered portraits are anchored in the connections she forges with her subjects: each portrait begins with a photo shoot in which her sitters are captured in a moment of self-awareness and empowerment. In her textile interpretations, Swaby foregrounds their hair, clothing, and jewelry—highlighting and celebrating the subjects’ use of fashion as unapologetic self-definition and self-expression.
This exhibition—Swaby’s first solo museum show—brings together seven of Swaby’s series from 2017 through 2021, such as My Hands Are Clean, Love Letters, and Pretty Pretty, along with approximately 15 new works, including her largest work to date, a commission for the US Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas. The title of the show, Fresh Up, developed with the artist, is a Bahamian phrase often used as a way to compliment someone’s style or confident way of being. Swaby has remarked, “It holds a lot of positivity and joy. It also speaks to the tone of confidence and power that I want to create with these works. I love that it is a way to form connections through a simple phrase.”
Lynn Hershman Leeson: Phantom Limb
Through July 8, 2023
Altman Seigel, San Francisco
Altman Siegel proudly presents a historical exhibition of works from Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Phantom Limb series, which was created in the 1980s. At the time that it was created, the Phantom Limb collages illustrated the more insidious impacts of mass media and technology on women’s bodies. Created prior to the advent of Photoshop, this body of work borrows from the visual language of advertising, fusing female forms with technology. Seductively posed women merge with cameras, TV screens, and electrical plugs, pointing to ways in which gendered mass media representations shape and distort women’s self-image. At once alluring and disarming, these black-and-white photo collages grapple with the absorption of female identity into modern media at a time when the depths of this issue were just beginning to be explored.
In this series Hershman Leeson was already musing on the implications of surveillance when she describes cameras as a “capture system”:
“This photographic series…suggests that we are not only being watched by surveillance systems, but that ‘capture’ systems are endemic to our society. The series questions individual complicity in a system that simultaneously steals images and warps personal identity. The seductive alliance of surveillance and capture inspired the sexually provocative positions in the anthropomorphic images.” – Lynn Hershman Leeson