NMWA: International Commemoration

“Over the last three decades, we have charted a new course for museums by consistently, often brazenly, bolstering the careers of many women artists. It is a fact that women continue to be unfairly underrepresented in museums and galleries, nationally and internationally,” NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling.

Since opening in 1987, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), Washington, D.C., has been dedicated to showcasing and celebrating the achievements of established and emerging women artists. The first of its kind, the organisation strives to advocate creative contributions whilst generating a platform for discussing and challenging gender inequality. The collection, which comprises over 5,000 works by over 1,000 female artists, features notable acquisitions by Frida Kahlo, Lee Krasner and Louise Bourgeois. Having recently reinstalled these works as part of its 30th anniversary commemoration, the institution now presents a year-long programme of exhibitions and events.

Revival (23 June – 10 September) challenges the nature of spectacle and visual fascination, transcending ordinary, physical encounters through the use of striking aesthetics and powerful subject matter. Featuring contemporary sculpture alongside photography, the exhibition creates immersive environments which exploit the unconscious human experience in order to provoke profound, emotive responses in the viewer. Fusing elation with an underlying sense of unease, the bodily depictions are simultaneously enticing and arresting. Video projections and large-scale photo-based works are shown alongside intricate, meticulous sculptures, collectively triggering intimate memories.

Selected from the archives of the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center, Wonder Women! (17 July – 17 November) reveals imagery of powerful figures both real and fictional. Handwritten letters, books, sketches and ephemera document the vital accomplishments made throughout history. The event highlights the provocative and perceptive actions of the Guerrilla Girls, as well as the forgotten, female war-heroes featured in the surreal paintings of Edna Reindel.

Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today (13 October – 21 January) is the first US demonstration that specifically addresses abstraction amongst African American innovators. Exploring a key movement through an inter-generational approach, the show depicts the enduring significance of abstraction; the diverse pieces utilise personal icons as a means of communicating universal concerns. Works include: paintings by pioneer Mavis Pusey, Chakaia Booker’s shredded tyre sculptures and the vibrant, energetic compositions of Alma Woodsey Thomas.

Alongside the programme are a series of talks, tours, community days, special events and concerts throughout their anniversary year. Talks begin in September and will be led by creative professionals including: feminist artists Judy Chicago and Mónica Mayer; filmmaker Tiffany Shlain; poet and activist Emtithal Mahmoud; director of Musée d’Orsay, Paris, Laurence des Cars; and director of Tate Modern, London, Frances Morris.

From June to June 2018 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), Washington. Find out more: www.nmwa.org

1. Anna Gaskell, untitled #8 (wonder), (1996). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Purchased with funds contributed by the Young Collectors Council, 1997. © Anna Gaskell