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.
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.
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
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
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.
Written by Devon Engle