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Happy International Women’s Day: Can you name #5WomenArtists?

March is  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: Can you name five women artists?

  • 51% of U.S. visual artists are women. They earn 81 cents for every $1 by a male artist.
  • In the book Basic History of Western Art, 8% of the artists are women. Less than 1% are women of color.
  • 5% of artworks on major museum walls are by women.

Women are less likely to have gallery representation, to get solo shows, and to make the big bucks at auction. See sourcing and more statistics, in this infographic.

In 2017, we wrote about the hugely successful #5WomenArtists campaign, started by NMWA, which challenges people to share the names of five women artists they know. In 2018, we shared a round up of our favorite artful links for Women’s History Month. 

Now that you’re aware, here are some ways to take action! 

Celebrate International Women’s Day at National Museum of Women in the Arts

Here in the DMV, we’re lucky to have the National Museum of Women in the Arts, open 362 days a year. Go ahead and pay them a visit now; we’ll be here when you get back.

… Welcome back! The NMWA addresses a huge gap in museum collections all over the globe, which vastly under represent women.

Whether you can name 5, 50, or 100 women artists, this month’s full of opportunities to find and support women artists who are new to you. Here are some exhibits to see and events to attend:

More exhibits to see…

Ann Pickett’s “The Exuberance of Life” (Open March 9 through April 7 in The Art League Gallery Solo Room): With movement, mystery and appetite for life, the work of painter Ann Pickett intertwines the figure with its environment in “The Exuberance of Life.” 

Ambreen Butt “Mark My Words” (On view December 7, 2018–April 14, 2019 at NMWA): Mark My Words reflects the multilayered aspects of mark-making in Butt’s art through her exceptional range of techniques—including drawing, stitching, staining, etching, and gluing—while also speaking to broader ideas about women making their marks on society.

Ambreen Butt, Pages of Deception, 2012; © Ambreen Butt; Photo by Tony Luong

Torpedo Factory Art Center (open 7 days a week), including The Art League gallery, is full of working women artists in every medium you can imagine. This blog post by Visit Alexandria has some suggestions on studios to visit. Take time to wander each of the floors…and chat with the local artists creating art right in front of you!

Jeanine Michna-Bales, On the Way to the Hicklin House Station, San Jacinto, Indiana, 2013; digital C-print, 17 x 24 1/2 inches; © Jeanine Michna-Bales

Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad  by Jeanine Michna-Bales (at Alexandria Black History Museum, February 2–March 16): Photographer Jeanine Michna-Bales has spent more than a decade meticulously researching “fugitive” slaves and the ways they escaped to freedom. While the unnumbered routes of the Underground Railroad encompassed countless square miles, the path Michna-Bales documented encompasses roughly 2,000 miles and is based off of actual sites, cities, and places that freedom-seekers passed through during their journey.

The portrait of Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald is on view indefinitely at the National Gallery of Art.

Articles to read

Why wait until the museums are open? You can read about women artists right now:

For some more outlets to read about contemporary women artists, see our list of favorite art blogs — and, of course, the NMWA’s blogBroad Strokes.

Iris, Tulips, Jonquils, and Crocuses, acrylic on canvas, by Alma Thomas. 1969. 

Art League Artists to Know…

Lucy Burns by Julie Dzikiewicz
Lucy Burns by Julie Dzikiewicz 

Closer to home, in the past year, this blog has interviewed 17 women artists who exhibited in our gallery or who taught a class this year:

We hope you have an enlightening Women’s History Month! If you learn about any new women artists whose work you want to share, won’t you leave us a comment below?

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

The Art League wishes you a very enlightening Women’s History Month! If you learn about any new women artists whose work you want to share, leave us a comment below…or share them with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! 

Need more inspiration: Browse the #5WomenArtists hashtag on Twitter or Instagram for more inspiration

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