Women in Contemporary Art –Where Are They?
Featured Image by Peri Neri
by Regina Walker
In 1989, less than 5% of the artists in the modern art sections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art were female; by 2005, this number had dropped to less than 3%. The Museum of Modern Art shares a dismal result. A count done by Jerry Saltz, an American art critic, revealed, “Of the 135 artists installed on these floors [housing the permanent collection], only 19 are women, 6%.”
Solo museum exhibits for women are equally troublesome. From 2002 to 2012 in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, there were ninety-two solo exhibits for male artists as compared to only twenty-eight solo exhibitions for female artists (MoMA Exhibitions). This means that for all solo exhibitions, only 23% of them were of female artists.
In the past ten years, there have been thirteen solo exhibitions for female artists to forty for male artists in the Guggenheim in New York City (Guggenheim Exhibitions). In other words, only 25% of all solo exhibitions are for female artists. At the Art Institute of Chicago, there have been twenty solo exhibitions for female artists and ninety-one for male artists in the past ten years (Art Institute Exhibitions). Female artists comprise 18% of solo exhibitions.
In the same time frame, only 12% of all solo exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art were for female artists (Metropolitan Exhibitions). The largest discrepancy is at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. From 2002 to 2009, there have been two solo exhibitions for female artists, compared to sixty-one for male artists (National Gallery Exhibitions). The percentage of solo exhibitions for female artists is a miniscule 2%.
Clearly Houston, we have a problem.
So we at Honeysuckle Magazine want to introduce you to just a few of the amazing contemporary female artists that are out there today. And hopefully, you will agree that something in the art world must shift…..
Perri Neri (http://www.perrineri.com/) utilizes drawing and painting as her primary mediums. She shared, “ I am interested in the merging of content with the act of drawing and painting., Binary opposition—pain and pleasure; nurturing and torturing; opulence and the mortification of the flesh—set the tempo for a provocative dance between figurative and abstract.
The act of painting is a kind of performance, a drama in strong contrasts rich in texture, color, motion, expression, and symbolism. I am discovering a new language by questioning what lies beneath the skin. Soft solid folds, knotted and woven push out what is underneath. Corpuscular forms rise to the surface writhing and struggling while others are clenched and steadfast.
The work is absolutely a reflection of this time and how it feels to be in my own skin, this mother/daughter/wife/lesbian/corpulent skin. The intent is always to invite interpretation; to not leave the paintings alone in their sensual strangeness.
Renna Zimmer (http://www.rennamae.com/) is a NYC artist, working in both collage and paint. She wrote of her creative process: “My story is changing
I did paint with paper
Images of people who have had great impact on my life
Occasionally creating magic
I have cut out 100s of bits of paper until a picture emerges and has a life of its own
Recently I looked at my pile of magazines and felt like Burning them all
The thought of turning yet one more page was abhorrent
I longed for the immediacy of paint to paper
I longed for the dance of a brushstroke
I pulled out my paints and began to paint
A new world is opening up
I am not burning my magazines today
They might creep back into my work
But I no longer want to be a slave to them.
I find that painting is like sculpting space
I am so excited to be part of this process”
Margaret Withers (www.MargaretWithers.com) is a visual artist who also currently lives in New York City. She asserts that with her paintings she is chasing a narrative that is wrapped in play and touches on melancholy and humor.
“Into these ocean landscapes I’ve painted a large botanic contraption, and in some regards, it’s the last remaining planetary or mechanical system that floats above the earth, abandoned and silent. It’s just out of reach of the humans who are left, floating on a log, where it seems that something might occur, or has already occurred, and now the consequence is being played out, and like the loop of a scene from a movie these people are set to repeat the narrative assigned to them, forever adrift in the world’s vastness."
Babs Owen (http://www.barbaraowen.net/) is a painter and mixed media artist whose practice currently involves installation. She works in series in order to explore how color, shape, material and paint itself develop and change one’s experience of each piece, while consistently exploring her subject matter. Currently she is painting paper that she modifies and uses to create abstract shapes (later using them in installations directly on a wall). The images that follow are a series whichinvolves the repetition of action and emphasizing the small components that make up larger things.
Aimee Hertog (http://www.aimeehertog.com) works with painting, photography and sculptural installation. Of her work she states, “I make art about the chaos and dysfunction of contemporary life. With an emphasis on domestic chaos and female identity, my work challenges the myth of domestic bliss.
The use of found objects is integral to my installation and sculptural works. Recycling utilitarian objects, I create sculptural forms from materials such as discarded clothing, kitchenware, dead flowers, and broken glass. While some of these materials are transformed or deconstructed, others are left in their raw state. Often the work takes the form of grotesque female figures. Distended, entangled, and sometimes literally left hanging, these pieces reflect the struggle women face in constructing and guarding their identities.”
Robin Kappy (http://robinkappy.blogspot.com/) is a fine artist who focuses both on drawing and painting. One of her drawings has been juried into the December 2015 Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Art Cub exhibition at the National Arts Club. She shared that she has recently returned to her art work (she is also a psychotherapist) with a renewed passion that is evident in her recent work.
Finally, I must admit my interest in this topic is personal as well. As both a photographer and painter, I am seeking a clearer vision and direction for my work while identifying with the struggle other women artists encounter in the “business of art.”