Can you name #5WomenArtists?

Since 2016—every Women’s History Month—the National Museum of Women in the Arts has challenged those active on social media to answer this question: Can you name five women artists?

This task should be simple. It’s just five artists . . . female artists. Unfortunately, many cannot answer this question, not without resorting to a quick internet search. 

#5WomenArtists is a campaign to support gender equality in the arts. Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is proud to answer #5WomenArtists this Women’s History Month with five modern and contemporary female artists, working across a range of media, on view in Boston this spring.

SAND Performers. Image courtesy of Victoria Awkward.

1. Contemporary Performance/Interdisciplinary
Victoria Awkward (present)
is a Boston-based emerging interdisciplinary performance artist whose work combines dance, music, photography, and empowerment. Victoria collaborates with diverse groups and focuses her practice on considerations of individuality and self-realization. Her recent performance SAND is an evening-length dance installation combining dance, poetry, music, and visual arts that celebrates the inherent differences between women by highlighting each female dancers’ unique qualities and personal expression.

Recently, Victoria hosted SAND at the Abigail Ogilvy Gallery and will host another performance at Fountain Street Gallery on April 26 and 27.

2. Contemporary Drawings/Public Installation
Joan Jonas (1936–present)
is an American performance and video artist who explores and reinterprets representations of time, space, and female subjectivity in her work. Jonas pioneered video art, and became one of the most important female artists to emerge in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Her work frequently questions portrayals of female identity in dramatic and contrived performances that draw on stories from many cultures, using theatrical gestures, masks, mirrors, and costumes. In 2017, she was the Artist-in-Residence at the Isabella Gardner Museum. 

Her solo exhibition I Know Why They Left and her public installation Blue to Blue are on view at the Isabella Gardner Museum from January 23–October 14, 2019, and January 22–June 24, 2019, respectively.

Isabella Gardner Museum
25 Evans Way, Boston, MA 02115

I Know Why They Left is a new series of drawings by the 2017 Artist-in-Residence Joan Jonas, Image courtesy of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

3. Contemporary Sculpture
Kapwani Kiwanga (1978–present)
is a Paris-based artist who investigates historical narratives, the global consequences of colonialism, and the pervasive impact of power asymmetries still present in society today. She examines marginalized and forgotten histories by juxtaposing them with present realities and future possibilities, using sculpture, installation, photography, video, and performance. Her recurrent reference to materiality and the economics of material production allude to how exploitation invariably manifests in politics and culture.

Her solo exhibition is on view at the MIT List Visual Arts Center from February 8–April 21, 2019.

MIT List Visual Arts Center
20 Ames St, Cambridge, MA 02142

4. Modern Painting/Print/Sculpture
Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945) 
was a German artist, who worked with painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Kollwitz was a resolute pacifist whose son died during World War I. She is best known for her compelling anti-war graphic works—which emphasize the suffering and sacrifice of those on the home front and especially the female perspective of the war—and her art cycles which depict the effects of poverty, hunger, and war on the working class. Several of her works are currently on view at the Harvard Art Museum (with many more in storage).

Harvard Art Museum
32 Quincy St, Cambridge, MA 02138

5. Contemporary Photography
Cindy Sherman (1954–present)
is an American photographer and filmmaker who critiques contemporary stereotypes of gender and identity. Using herself as the subject of most of her work, Sherman examines and distorts the social constructs of femininity and the mechanics of their production. “I like making images that from a distance seem kind of seductive, colorful, luscious, and engaging, and then you realize what you're looking at is something totally opposite,” she explains.

Several of her works are currently on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

 Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA 02210

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #3, gelatin silver print, 1977, Image courtesy of the ICA Boston.

Honorable Mention: Contemporary Fashion Exhibition
Made Visible: Contemporary South African Fashion and Identity
is a female-forward fashion exhibition celebrating the identities of South Africans historically denied rights and representation, such as Xhosa, Ndebele, and Zulu communities; women of color; members of the LGBTQI community; and rural citizens. The exhibition explores how clothing communicates individuality, creates or erases cultural identity, and enforces class divisions.

This exhibition is on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston from February 2–May 12, 2019.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115

Image courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Written by Devon Engle

Sand: A Dance Performance by Victoria Awkward

Last weekend we had the honor of hosting local dance performance, Sand. They kicked off the weekend with notable press from The Boston Globe, The Improper Bostonian, and The Arts Fuse - so it came as no surprise it was sold out both nights.

Sand Performers at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery. Image courtesy of Victoria Awkward.

Sand is a dance performance organized and choreographed by visual and performance artist Victoria Awkward. It started as a trio and aimed to explore the nature of sand through dance. By interpreting “the loose, compact, and rocky textures of sand,” Victoria combines solo, duet, and full group dances to showcase the relationships between the dancers as well as their individual strong suits. Since the first installment, Sand has gone on to develop as both a film and a larger installment. It highlights five dancers; Joniece “JoJo” Boykins, a graduate of SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance; Tabitha Hanay-Reaves, who trains with the Boston Dance Theater; Michayla Kelly, a graduate of Goucher College in Mathematics and Dance; Kate Dube, a member of the Boston Dance Theater and freelance dancer; and Jessy Zizzo, an interdisciplinary artist focused in dance and comedy. This performance also features Tatiana Isabel, whose poetry contributes to the passionate narrative established in Sand.

With roughly forty people in attendance, Sand ran for forty minutes. Following the performance, Victoria Awkward invites audience members to participate in a question and answer session as well as an opportunity to meet the dancers. The purpose of the performance, as noted by Tatiana Isabel, is not only to explore the idea of sand in a physical way, but to “explore diversity and inclusion through the lens of a woman of color.” As an audience member, it was wonderful to see the way Victoria Awkward’s choreography was able to highlight each dancer as an individual, while also celebrating the importance of their movements as a whole and each member’s contribution to the narrative.

If you missed the performance this past weekend, you have another chance to view the show at Fountain Street Gallery in April, click for details. A huge thanks to Victoria Awkward and her team for putting on a wonderful show!

All images courtesy of Victoria Awkward. Blog post written by Kaylee Hennessey.

A Day at the ICA Boston

This week’s blog post is by Katie Glazier, one of our amazing gallery interns who is a current senior at Boston University. Check our her review of the Institute of Contemporary Art after visiting for the first time!

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It’s not something I would regularly admit, especially not to the readers of an art blog, but I had never been to the ICA before last weekend. While this might not seem that shocking, it is definitely a little out of character for me, being that I am in my final year of studying art history at Boston University, and on top of that am an intern at a contemporary art gallery. In my defense, I never intended on leaving it this long to make my first visit.  Life just seemed to always get in the way of my plans, and soon weeks, and then months passed without me making a trip. This was why I was so glad to hear that as part of my internship, I would get to finally embark on my long-awaited journey to visit the ICA Boston (if you follow Abigail Ogilvy Gallery on Instagram, you may have caught a glimpse of the interns as we documented our visit to the museum on our Instagram stories!).

Upon entering the museum, I immediately noticed the first exhibit just to the right of the entrance. There is a large wall, covered with what looks like a map of the continents and countries which extend off of the wall slightly. Getting closer, it becomes clear it is made of humanitarian rescue blankets that have been twisted and folded to create the continental shapes. In this exhibit, artist Wangechi Mutu creates an interactive piece to explore the idea of communication. The artist facilitate this contact through hanging pencils from the protruding continents, inviting visitors to write what they would like directly on the wall.  Thought provoking questions surrounding the work prompts articulation of thoughts and ideas. As this piece has been on display since mid-summer, the once bare wall is now covered in the scribbles and notes of the visitors to the museum.

Wangechi Mutu, A Promise to Communicate, 2017. Installation view, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 2017. Photo by Charles Mayer Photography. Source: ICA Boston website.

Sanya Kantarovsky, Violet, 2016, Oil on Linen, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 2017. Photo by Charles Mayer Photography. Source: ICA website.

Sanya Kantarovsky, Violet, 2016, Oil on Linen, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 2017. Photo by Charles Mayer Photography. Source: ICA website.

Moving on from the entrance, I proceeded with my fellow intern, Keara, to the buildings third floor. We started with the permanent collection, which included a variety of pieces in a wide range of media. This installment of the annual collection exhibition is called “Entangled in the Everyday.” The pieces on display consider the artists interaction with everyday experiences, many using materials that are typically mundane to create meaningful and compelling artwork. Works like Tara Donovan’s Nebulous, which uses Scotch tape to create a delicate installation on the floor, and Nari Ward’s Savior, which includes a shopping cart turned sculpture, demonstrate the transformative use of common objects. The exhibition also focuses on portraiture as another perspective on ordinary life, with pieces such as Sanya Kantarovsky’s Violet, which is an oil painting that depicts a sullen looking man and his dog as they ride the subway. This exploration of the ordinary is anything but mundane—each piece imbues new meaning and gives an insightful outlook to objects and experiences that may be otherwise overlooked.

Next we continued to an exhibition of Jason Moran’s interdisciplinary work, which focuses on the intersection of music (specifically jazz) and visual art. This moody, haunting and soulful exhibition almost mimics the qualities of jazz music itself. The viewer is surrounded by set installations that look like jazz venues of the past, coupled with some of Moran’s charcoal drawings are large screens that present video works created in collaboration with others. I personally enjoyed the immersive quality of the exhibition, as the few rooms it is housed in created a bubble where time was somehow halted to allow the visual and musical components to fully overtake the senses.

Finally, we made our way through the museums most recently added exhibition, “William Forsythe: Choreographic Objects.”  Similar to Jason Moran's exhibit, it is very immersive, and follows the current trend of interactive museum exhibitions. Viewers are encouraged to participate in the exhibition, as its main focus in on the body’s movements as choreography. In a way, it ties together nicely with the current installation of the museum’s permanent collection, as it explores an aspect of life that may not initially be viewed as art—our intrinsic bodily movements. Through interacting with each portion of the exhibit, the spectator becomes the subject. Keara and I couldn’t help but smile as we attempted to follow the set of instructions given at each point in the exhibit. We darted our way through swinging pendulums (Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, No. 3, 2015), carefully held quivering feather dusters (Towards the Diagnostic Gaze, 2013), and attempted to climb gymnastic rings hanging from the ceiling (The Fact of Matter, 2009). Overall, the exhibition redefines the viewers understanding of the body as an artistic object and challenges the participants to consider the body’s strengths and limitations.

As we wrapped up our visit, I had feelings of satisfaction from having seen so many interesting and thought-provoking pieces, as well as a slight feeling of regret for not having visited sooner. Now that I have experienced the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, I can’t wait until a new exhibition is added and I have an excuse to visit again.