It’s Women’s History Month, and today is International Women’s Day. To mark the occasion, the National Museum of Women in the Arts is once again asking a simple question: Can you name five women artists?
- 9 percent of artists in the 9th edition of Janson’s History of Western Art are women, and
- 5 percent of artworks on major U.S. museum walls are by women artists
Meanwhile, 51 percent of visual artists working today are women, who on average earn 81 cents for every dollar a male artist makes.
In response to the #5WomenArtists call, art institutions, organizations, and publications all over the world are responding to answer the challenge and spread the word!
What’s going on
The Huffington Post got things started by re-upping their post from last year with 201 women artists you should know. It’s an excellent starting point to build up your own list. But don’t stop there!
- To find an even longer list than the Huffington Post’s, you could look to the collection of Valeria Napoleone, currently on exhibit in the UK.
- PBS NewsHour reported on female Aboriginal artists, whose artwork — part of a 40,000-year tradition — is being recognized by exhibits in the United States.
- At this month’s ADAA art fair in New York, one reviewer was thrilled to find women artists well-represented.
- Washington City Paper posted a feature on Girl Power Meetups, where DC-area women share their artwork and ideas.
- With the Metropolitan Museum of Art suddenly in search of a new leader, an op-ed in the New York Times makes the case that — in the face of gender bias in leadership at art institutions the world over — the Met should hire its first female director.
- A new book by Donna Seaman profiles unknown women artists in seven well-reviewed biographies.
- And don’t forget to follow the hashtag #5WomenArtists on Instagram and Twitter to discover many more.
Films to watch
Documentaries are one of our favorite ways to learn about artists we like. Here are five to watch this month, or any time:
- Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning (2014) (view on PBS)
- Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present (2012) ($3.99 on Amazon Video, also on other services)
- What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann (2005) ($2.99 on Amazon Video, free with Prime)
- Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress, & the Tangerine (2008) ($2.99 on Amazon Video, free with Prime)
- Guest of Cindy Sherman (2008) ($3.99 on Amazon Video)
Art League artists
It’s not just art history, of course. The Art League is proud to provide a space for emerging artists to learn, grow, and exhibit their work. In the past year, we’ve interviewed 17 female artists for this blog:
- Andrea Cybyk
- Jane Thomas
- Ann Ruppert
- Beverly Ryan
- Gloria Spellman
- Lizzy Lunday
- Catherine Hillis
- Moira McQuillen
- Linda Lowery
- Sheila Harrington
- Florence Setzer
- Kathlyn Avila
- Fierce Sonia
- Betsy Anderson
- Sandra Dalal
- Margaret Cerutti
- Kay Fuller
Exhibits to see
Reading and watching films about artists is great, but how about some artwork to see in person?
- The Guerrilla Girls have a selection of their famous posters and “creative complaining” at the Baltimore Museum of Art, but only through March 12!
- The Brooklyn Museum, home to Judy Chicago’s landmark Dinner Party, is holding a year (or more) of exhibits under the umbrella of A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism.
- And, naturally, the National Museum of Women in the Arts is always worth a visit.
Change the conversation
OK, now you’re getting up to speed and you can rattle off more than five of your favorite women artists. What can you do to support women artists of today?
There will be several Wikipedia Edit-a-Thons this month, to improve Wikipedia’s articles about women artists. Here are the ones in DC:
- March 11, 2017 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts
- March 25, 2017 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum
- or Find an Edit-a-Thon near you
The best way to support any artist remains simple: it’s to buy their work when you like it. When that’s not in your budget, there are other ways to show your support: attend exhibits and openings and spread the word about them, for example. You can also advocate for institutions and organizations that support women artists with grants and other funding.
The more we support women artists of our time, the more art historians of the future have to look forward to.