Can you name five women artists?
The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) asks the same question every March in honor of Women’s History Month by promoting the hashtag #5womenartists. Launched in 2016, this viral social media campaign hopes to spark a conversation about gender parity in the arts.
Whether your answer to the question is yes or no, below are five female artists working or exhibiting in the Boston area that you should know by name. The numerous accolades of these incredible artists bring to light the challenges facing women in the industry and the obstacles to notoriety and recognition that do not seem to exist for their male counterparts:
Anna Schuleit Haber
The artist behind our current solo exhibition, “Scientific Purposes”, Anna Schuleit Haber boasts an impressive resume. She has studied painting at RISD, creative writing/book arts at Dartmouth College, and was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard. In 2006, she was named a Macarthur Fellow for work that has “conceptual clarity, compassion, and beauty.” Schuleit Haber's current work includes The Voice Imitator project, an ongoing series of 104 paintings based on a collection of short stories by Austrian writer, Thomas Bernhard. These are just a few of the many accomplishments Schuleit Haber's resume boasts.
Marisa Adesman subverts the typical theme of female subjects as objects of beauty by ornamenting them with gluttonous gobs of vibrant-colored frosting. The addition of this decadent piping on her paintings presents a poignant critique of society and grotesque depiction of objectified femininity. Adesman explains, "I investigate the ways in which the aesthetics of the grotesque and of the erotic can coexist by painting female subjects covered in frosting. Other male artists who work with similar subject matter often exploit the erotic for the male gaze – allowing their women to become spectacles and objects of sexual fantasy. However, I strive to subvert and deny these obvious connotations of this household material". You can view Ademsan's work in person during the April exhibition at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery.
Described as a contemporary, feminist collage artist, Noelle Fiori produces work in response to the negatively skewed perception of beauty and sexuality being disseminated through the mass media today. Her collages both literally and figuratively dismantle the female image to produce a manufactured and altered persona which directly engages the issues of beauty, sexuality, exploitation, and complicity that affect young women.
Wangechi Mutu was born in Nairobi, Kenya and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. In her new commission for the ICA Boston, titled A Promise to Communicate, Mutu addresses the idea of an emerging global community that is unable to effectively communicate. The wall installation depicts an arrangement of the world continents, “sculpted” from the rough, gray rescue blankets commonly used by humanitarian aid organizations. In her artwork, Mutu frequently explores questions of collective trauma, gender politics, and environmental devastation. She avoids being confined to any one medium, and explores her artistic talent through painting collage, sculpture, performance, and video.
Ariel Basson Freiberg
One of our represented artists, Ariel Basson Freiberg, is a Boston-based painter who explores female sexuality and the objectification of women in her vibrant oil paintings. She holds an MFA in painting from Boston University and a BA from Smith College. In June 2017, she debuted performance and installation “love like salt” at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and this year, “Amnesia” will be the cover of Definitions of Feminine Post Conflict Spaces. Her work is currently on display at UMass Boston’s University Hall Gallery as part of the all-female exhibition, HARD: Subversive Representation.