Big Girls: Large Format Photographs by Women Photographers recently opened in NYC, featuring a variety of compelling large-format photographs by women artists. On view from until 30 July 2010, the exhibition encompasses a host of themes within the theme, including portraiture, figure studies, abstraction, autobiography, and fantasy.

Concurrently, there is also a show on at MoMA Pictures By Women: A History Of Modern Photography that showcases 200 Works by 120 Women Artists. Presenting a chronological suvey of 170 years of photography, this show demonstrates the movement of the genre by opening with early 19th century photography moving right through to decades to the present day. Read more in Aesthetica’s June/July issue.

So, it’s great to see a private gallery celebrating women’s contributions to photography. Ranging in age from their early 20s to their 60s, the artists are Meghan Boody (US), Sandi Haber Fifield (US), Sharon Harper (US), Mona Kuhn (Brazil), Jocelyn Lee (Italy/US), Bea Nettles (US), Heli Rekula (Finland), Melanie Schiff (US), Erin Wahed (Canada) and Pinar Yolaçan (Turkey/US).

“The impetus for the exhibition was to create a showcase around several works collected by the gallery and my personal collection,” says gallerist Rick Wester. “The concept had its genesis in 2002 with the acquisition of Jocelyn Lee’s Untitled (girl with long hair standing in water), and continued to grow over the years.” Works on view range from a site-specific grid installation of 21 photographs by Sandi Haber Fifield, Looking Inward / Looking Out, 2 (2010) that is situated in odd places near the gallery’s ceiling in diagonally opposite corners, to a handmade accordion book, Hair Loss (2007) by Bea Nettles—the long-time doyenne of alternative photographic processes—that documents the loss and eventual re-growth of her hair due to chemotherapy treatments.

Photographs that look to the female figure as symbol and allegory include; Heli Rekula’s Overflow (2004) from the performance series Desire, where the artist photographs herself being showered in a white milklike liquid that forms a second skin over her muscular physique; Pinar Yolaçan will debut two works from her ongoing project, Mother Goddess. Yolaçan looks back in time and creates nearly life size odalisques of large women dressed in skintight, full-length body suits. Based on prehistoric mother goddess figurines excavated in the Hacilar region of Turkey, Yolaçan’s figures are uncomfortable and shocking in the way the body suit both constrains and reveals the model.

Other highlights include Sharon Harper’s large-scale minimalist compositions of the night sky from her Moon Studies and Star Scratches series (2003-2009), and from the youngest contributor to the exhibition, Erin Wahed, saturated prints of otherworldly abstract landscapes.

RWFA is located at 511 West 25th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues in New York City’s Chelsea art district. For more information visit