In 1975, feminist art historian Linda Nochlin wrote her seminal essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” In it, Nochlin addressed the historical exclusion of women from fine arts schools and workshops, from galleries and art shows, and from textbooks and art history classes. In short, Nochlin said, there have been many great, phenomenal women artists throughout history, whose rise to appreciation and success was blocked by a male-dominated academic world and art market.
The tide is turning, albeit slowly. Women are the directors of more than 48% of American museums, and there are some renowned and internationally-known New York galleries, including PPOW, Tracey Williams, Salon 94, and Galerie Lelong, who represent women more than 50% of the time. But in April of 2015, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, only 7 percent of works on view were by women, and this lack of representation for contemporary artists, when it carries over into in the art market, provides fewer opportunities for sales. Just 15% of the top 500 artists ranked in the 2017 annual Art Price Report were women.
Join NYXT this month, Women’s History Month, in celebrating and championing these 5 women artists here in NYC.
Above - “Behind the Scenes with Mika Tajima” - Art21
Mika Tajima is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work incorporates elements of performance and installation art. For Today is Not a Dress Rehearsal (2009) and The Pedestrians (2011), Tajima constructed and ran a film set, using those sites as a backdrop for the performance. The exploration of movement, voice, and interactions between the participants on the set becomes the artwork itself, rather than a final, fully-produced film. In its focus on process over product, Tajima’s work reminds us to be present and reflects on what is beautiful and universal in our everyday actions.
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Above - “Behind the Scenes of Suspended Women” - Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
A dancer and choreographer with over 40 years experience on and off the stage, Jacqulyn Buglisi is a mainstay of the New York dance world. She has choreographed for The Joyce Theater, The Kennedy Center, Jacob’s Pillow, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Suspended Women, choreographed in 2000 and performed regularly as a part of the Alvin Ailey Company’s reparatory, expresses the strength of women against adversity throughout time. A diverse cast of 18 female dancers represents archetypes of women throughout history, many drawn from poetry and art history. These women struggle against constricting gender roles, the male gaze and sometimes violence at the hands of men, and racial discrimination, portrayed in a dramatic, frenetic composition. Buglisi’s work has brought gender and ethnic diversity to New York stages along with a feminist message of empowerment and sisterhood.
Above - “Dindga McCannon Exhibition” - Harlem One Stop
Dingda McCannon is an African-American artist and a native of Harlem. The self-taught fiber artist, who works in quilting, mixed media, painting, and other mediums, began her artistic career in the 1960s. She soon became an influential voice within a movement of black women artists who wanted to deliver a message of revolution and radical transformation. McCannon’s derives her work in part from traditional sewing and quilting techniques learned from her grandmother and is informed by the dual experiences of being black and a woman in 20th century America. Her works, such as Revolutionary Sister (1971), construct a warrior for the black feminist cause; clothed in the colors of African liberation and working against tropes of blaxploitation she is a figure of strength and resistance for her revolution.
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Above - "Toni Blackman” - Harlem Arts Festival
New York City-based spoken word artist Toni Blackman uses her art for activism. With spoken poetry and freestyle hip-hop, Blackman hopes to inspire people to use artistic expression as a way to constructively deal with emotion and personal conflict. Through her work as an educator and her workshops which promote positivity in messaging and in language, Blackman highlights the power of words to connect and create communities. In her role as “Hip Hop Ambassador” for the US State Department, she has traveled to more than 30 countries leading ciphers, a kind of freestyle, collaborative spoken word session.
Daryl Myntia Daniels
Above - “The Painter” - NYXT Originals
A young painter with a budding career, Daryl Myntia Daniels’ work is firmly rooted in her life in Harlem. Daniels paints and draws intimate, large-scale portraits of women she interviews here in her historically black neighborhood. The images she creates, which highlight the natural textures of their hair and contours of their faces, celebrate black identity and beauty.
How do we fix the gender gap in the art world? Curator Maura Reilly wrote in Art News’ “Women in the Art World” issue that featuring, purchasing, and promoting female artists is a choice. Only by actively choosing to shine a spotlight past the litany of male artists we already know can the great women artists step into the light.
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