Merian’s Daughters: Monika E. de Vries Gohlke, Amy Lamb, and Janaina Tschäpe

Join NMWA on September 3, when contemporary artists engage in conversation about their “artistic foremother” Maria Sibylla Merian. During Merian’s Daughters, Super Natural artists Amy Lamb, Janaina Tschäpe, and Monika E. de Vries Gohlke will discuss their disparate ways of dealing with nature in their work. The three artists credit groundbreaking 17th-century artist and scientist Merian, whose work is also on view in Super Natural, as a major influence on their performances, photography, videos, and prints.

Amy Lamb, Purple Datura, 2015; Digital pigment print of photograph, 34 x 34 in.; Promised gift of the artist and Steven Scott Gallery, Baltimore; © 2015 Amy Lamb, all rights reserved

Amy Lamb, Purple Datura, 2015; Digital pigment print of photograph, 34 x 34 in.; Promised gift of the artist and Steven Scott Gallery, Baltimore; © 2015 Amy Lamb, all rights reserved

Maria Sibylla Merian revolutionized botany and zoology through her studies of flora and fauna. At age 52, Merian and her younger daughter embarked on a dangerous trip to the Dutch colony of Suriname, in South America, without a male companion. She spent two years studying and drawing the indigenous animals and plants. Her lavishly illustrated Insects of Surinam established her international reputation.

Through studying insects, Merian paved the way for centuries of artist-scientists, including Amy Lamb, who cites Merian as a major influence on her career. A cellular biologist-turned-artist, Lamb admires women like Merian for their ability to cross over to the art world.

Lamb’s photographs emphasize the formal properties of her subjects—the color of a leaf, the ruffled edges of a petal, or the reflective qualities of a dew drop. Her photographs recall the painstaking detail found in Merian’s scientific drawings. While Merian emphasized biological detail to foster better scientific understanding, Lamb’s large-scale images elevate the minutiae of her flowers to monumental status.

Janaina Tschäpe, Moais from “100 Little Deaths,” 2002; Chromogenic color print, 31 x 47 in.; Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, DC

Janaina Tschäpe, Moais from “100 Little Deaths,” 2002; Chromogenic color print, 31 x 47 in.; Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, DC

Talented and independent, Merian set an example for women like Janaina Tschäpe. Merian ventured beyond 17th-century societal norms by traveling and studying in a foreign country with only her daughter as a companion. Tschäpe also traveled to remote locales for the benefit of her art. She created her “100 Little Deaths” series by photographing her body in natural environments around the world—from Capri to Angkor Wat.

Left: Monika E. de Vries Gohlke, “Caiman” After Maria Sibylla Merian and Daughters, 2012; Etching and aquatint, hand colored, on paper, 11 1/4 x 15 1/4 in.; NMWA, Gift of the artist; Right: Maria Sibylla Merian, Plate 69 from Dissertation in Insect Generations and Metamorphosis in Surinam, 2nd Ed., 1719; Hand-colored engraving on paper, 14 1/4 x 20 1/2 in.; NNMWA, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Left: Monika E. de Vries Gohlke, “Caiman” After Maria Sibylla Merian and Daughters, 2012; Etching and aquatint, hand colored, on paper, 11 1/4 x 15 1/4 in.; NMWA, Gift of the artist; Right: Maria Sibylla Merian, Plate 69 from Dissertation in Insect Generations and Metamorphosis in Surinam, 2nd Ed., 1719; Hand-colored engraving on paper, 14 1/4 x 20 1/2 in.; NNMWA, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Merian’s influence is evident in Monika E. de Vries Gohlke’s oeuvre. One of Gohlke’s prints, “Caiman” After Maria Sibylla Merian and Daughters, is similar to Merian’s composition showing a caiman struggling with a snake, which is on view next to Gohlke’s drawing. The French phrase “L’homage”—visible on the ground below the fighting figures—underscores the relevance of Merian’s preceding work. Spiders and butterflies along the top of the drawing allude to Merian’s renowned artistic and scientific work on insects. Merian’s illustrations cover an adjacent wall within the same gallery as Gohlke’s Caiman.

Hear from the artists in person at NMWA about their work and Merian’s persistent influence—register today through the online calendar.

—Christy Slobogin was the summer publications and marketing/communications intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Spotlight: Rachel Sussman

The fourth installment of NMWA’s biennial exhibition series, Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015 is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition’s artists redefine the relationship between women, art, and nature.

Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015
Artist: Rachel Sussman
Nominating committee: Greater New York Committee / Consulting curators: Christiane Paul, Whitney Museum of American Art; Dana Miller, Whitney Museum of American Art

Sussmanedits

Rachel Sussman at NMWA; Photo credit: Laura Hoffman

Rachel Sussman mixes art and science to spark reflection on the oldest living organisms on the planet. “It’s part art, it’s part science, and it’s part philosophy,” explains Sussman. Her conceptual photograph series “Oldest Living Things in the World” delves into “deep-time and long-term thinking.”

Although her subjects have survived for millennia, Sussman brings awareness to the fragility of their existence due to recent climate change and human encroachment.

Working with a team of biologists, Sussman traveled the globe in an attempt to record 30 organisms that have survived for 2,000 years or more. Not merely scientific documentation, Sussman’s photographs serve as portraits of individual organisms—each with their own kind of dignity and personality. Sussman shot her subjects using a Mamiya 7 II camera, which she has owned since 2004. She reveals, “It has been with me through the entire project and has been to every continent.”

Organic Matters includes three large-scale photographs from her series. La Llareta #0308-2B31 (2,000+ years old; Atacama Desert, Chile) is what Sussman calls the “poster child of the project.” These alien-like shrubs are related to parsley and carrots and are comprised of thousands of densely packed branches. Sussman photographed La Llareta at an elevation of 15,000 feet in an area of the Atacama Desert with no recorded rainfall in history.

Rachel Sussman, La Llareta #0308-2B31 (2,000+ years old; Atacama Desert, Chile), 2008; Archival pigment prints on photo rag paper, 44 x 54 in.; Courtesy of the artist

Rachel Sussman, La Llareta #0308-2B31 (2,000+ years old; Atacama Desert, Chile), 2008; Archival pigment prints on photo rag paper, 44 x 54 in.; Courtesy of the artist

Spruce Gran Picea #0909-11A07 (9,500 years old; Fulufjället, Sweden) portrays the oldest organism in on view in Organic Matters. As a clonal organism, the spruce tree grows genetically identical shoots. Sussman refers to the tree as “a portrait of climate change.” The mass of low-lying branches represents how the tree appeared for 9,500 years. Over the last 50 years, a spindly trunk has grown from its center—a climate-related anomaly.

Continuously engrossed in art and science collaborations, Sussman mentions Trevor Paglen’s space-proof photos, Ed Burtynsky’s environmental landscape work, and Henning Rogge’s reclaimed war landscapes as inspiring and thought-provoking. Because her subjects are located around the planet, yet they share the capacity to inspire viewers with their evocation of time, Sussman views her “Oldest Living Things” as something “that just transcends the things that divide us.”

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: August 28, 2015

Women in music caused a buzz this week. Music critic Jessica Hopper used Twitter to “put the spotlight on pervasive sexism staining the [music] industry.”

The Guardian shares women musicians’ experiences of not being as respected as their male counterparts.

The Huffington Post discusses the gender gap with pop artist Anna Hass. The songwriter says, “It must first be acknowledged before it can be changed. Men and women of talent deserve equal representation and opportunities to make a living in the music industry.”

Exam boards have ignored female composers as worthy of study. Although there have been famous and successful female classical composers, many have been “written out of history; left out of the canon.”

The New York-based platform Discwoman showcases female-identified DJ talent in the electronic music community.

Front Page Femmes

Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi’s controversial sculpture has led to her arrest—twice.

The Guardian discusses women war photographers who have since faded into obscurity.

New tapestries by Ebony G. Patterson incorporate colorful clumps of flowers and gems but reveal disturbing crime scene moments upon closer examination.

Akshaya Borkar, the founder of The Art and Craft Gallery, is attempting to revolutionize the art industry online.

The Joan Mitchell Center, an artist retreat funded by Mitchell’s foundation, opened this weekend in New Orleans.

The Huffington Post interviews curator and writer Maura Reilly. Reilly discusses the recent ARTnews Special Issue on Women in the Art World.

The Women’s Project Theater begins its season at the McGinn/Cazale Theater on Broadway. The company is dedicated to promoting women artists.

Twelve writers have been selected to participate in a new program funded by Meryl Streep. The Writers Lab is devoted to script development for women writers over the age of 40.

Ballet dancer Misty Copeland makes her Broadway debut in the musical On the Town.

Shows We Want to See

Hyperallergic reviews a new exhibition of works by Baroque painter Josefa de Óbidos (1630–1684). “She is considered to be one of the most accomplished painters of 17th-century Portugal and is especially significant because of the recognition she gained in an art period dominated by men.”

Egyptian-Lebanese artist Lara Baladi’s 29-foot-long tapestry Oum el Dounia is on view at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Portuguese artist Leonor Antunes cites textile artist Anni Albers and filmmaker Maya Deren as inspirations for her installation in the New Museum’s Lobby Gallery.

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

5 Fast Facts: Sharon Core

Impress your friends with five fast facts about Sharon Core, whose work is currently on view at NMWA in the collection galleries and in Super Natural.

Sharon Core (b. 1965)

Sharon Core, Single Rose, 1997; Chromogenic color print; 14 x 13 inches; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, D.C.; © Sharon Core, Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery; Photograph by Lee Stalsworth

Sharon Core, Single Rose, 1997; Chromogenic color print; 14 x 13 inches; NMWA, Gift of the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, D.C.; © Sharon Core, Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery; Photograph by Lee Stalsworth

1. Mystery Meat
Two photographs on view in Super Natural, Single Rose and Bouquet, incorporate flower petals made from meat—purportedly from pig ears.

2. Painterly Beginnings
Core studied painting at the University of Georgia and later earned an MFA in photography at Yale. Her works are inspired by or directly based on realistic paintings—such as those by 19th-century painter Raphaelle Peale.

3. Presidential Produce
By growing heirloom vegetables and flowers, Core says, “I see the garden as an extension of my studio.” In her series imitating still-lifes by Peale, Core obtained many plants from Monticello. Thomas Jefferson kept meticulous records of his garden crops and was a friend of Peale’s family.

4. A Piece of Cake?
Core also reimagined works by Wayne Thiebaud, involving baking, decorating, and arranging more than 200 brightly colored cakes and foods. Food styling was not a new skill for Core, who has also worked on shoots for a German food company, HoneyBaked Ham catalogues, and Martha Stewart Living.

5. Nature Morte
Carefully staging photographic still-lifes with home-grown flowers is not a common practice. Core says, “The paintings on which [my works] are modeled were painstakingly painted to appear as real as possible, so I go to great pains to come at the image from another direction—to mirror it.”

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Spotlight: Jiha Moon

The fourth installment of NMWA’s biennial exhibition series, Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015 is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition’s artists redefine the relationship between women, art, and nature.

Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015
Artist: Jiha Moon
Nominating committee: Georgia Committee / Consulting curator: Michael Rooks, High Museum of Art

Jiha Moon at NMWA; Photo credit: Laura Hoffman

Jiha Moon at NMWA; Photo credit: Laura Hoffman

Jiha Moon is known for her blend of traditional materials and pop culture iconography. Like a “cartographer of cultures,” Moon is interested in creating images that can be read differently by people with different backgrounds. The Korean-born artist says, “Translating cultural incongruities is one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking experiences I have.”

Moon mixes nature and culture in Peach Mask I, Leia, and Immortal Dessert—all on view in Organic Matters. Each work incorporates the shape of a peach. A prominent symbol in the state of Georgia, the peach also represents happiness and longevity in Korean culture.

The works in Organic Matters are exemplary of Moon’s cross-cultural artistic style. In many of her works, Moon deconstructs and layers iconic images into uncharacteristic positions. Peach Mask I mixes acrylic forms together with calligraphic ink swirls. Upon closer examination, the viewer can find recognizable shapes—like those of the video-game characters Angry Birds. Through combining figurative elements and abstract, gestural strokes, Moon hopes to create kaleidoscopic works that are “somewhat familiar yet very strange at the same time.”

Jiha Moon, Peach Mask I, 2013; Ink and acrylic on Hanji paper, 38 x 38 1/2 in.; Courtesy of the artist

Jiha Moon, Peach Mask I, 2013; Ink and acrylic on Hanji paper, 38 x 38 1/2 in.; Courtesy of the artist

Although she was trained as a painter, she has also explored textiles and ceramics. Moon’s fascination with clay lies in its “long history connecting East and West. As an Asian American artist, this is such a rich area to explore and to research.” Two of her ceramic works are showcased in Organic Matters. Leia incorporates traditional colors found in Asian ceramics with Star Wars references. Similarly, Immortal Dessert melds a Cheshire cat, smiley face emoticons, and fortune cookies. All are common motifs for Moon. Fortune cookies—an American invention—are of particular interest to the artist as the “biggest misunderstanding of Asianness.”

Although her works use images from today’s culture, her materials are often traditional. She frequently uses Hanji, a Korean Mulberry paper. She said, “I buy a year’s supply when I visit Korea.”

In a gallery talk at the museum, Moon told visitors her influences are “where I travel, who I meet, and . . . things I see in nature.” She compares her surrealistic works to her life in the U.S., saying, “I always feel like I’m sort of in between places all the time and I try to find the beauty within that . . . Identity is something really complex and shifty and changeable and that type of thing is always present in my work.”

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Art Fix Friday: August 21, 2015

Musician Janelle Monáe made headlines this week with the new iteration of her song “Hell You Talmabout.” The Washington Post reflects on recent reactions to Monáe’s song and her growing presence on the national stage.

The Guardian covers her appearance on NBC’s Today show and her efforts in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Her powerful political song features chants of the names of many African American men and women who died at the hands of the police.

Front-Page Femmes

The Swiss bank UBS will commission famed photographer Annie Leibovitz to create a series of portraits of notable women as an extension of her 1999 series “Women.”

Atena Farghadani, the long-jailed Iranian artist, won the 2015 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award.

Pioneering Detroit art dealer Susan Hilberry passed away at the age of 72. ARTnews says, “Hilberry was admired for keeping an eye on young talent, balancing shows of canonized artists with those of promising upstarts.”

Brain Pickings explores unpublished writings of French-American artist Louise Bourgeois.

Jerry Saltz writes a memorial article for art patron Melva Bucksbaum. A supporter of women artists, Bucksbaum curated a show that featured over 100 works by women.

Robert McCrum’s 100 Greatest Novels list covers almost 300 years of literature but only includes 21 works by women. Writers Patricia Highsmith and Margaret Atwood were not included.

The Huffington Post lists 14 women writers who dominate the universe of sci-fi.

The Huffington Post lists books by ten women authors who were first published after the age of 40.

The New Yorker explores the writings of Sagawa Chika, a nearly-forgotten Japanese poet.

Sadie Frost employed an 80% female crew for her new film. Frost’s research revealed that only 23% of film crew members were women in the highest-grossing films of the past 20 years.

Jennifer Lawrence is the world’s highest paid actress, followed by Scarlett Johansson and Melissa McCarthy.

Actress Melissa McCarthy’s new clothing line hopes to break down stereotypes in the fashion industry.

Ballet dancer-turned-actress Yvonne Craig died at the age of 78. Craig was best known for her role as Batgirl in the 1960s TV series.

Time celebrates actress Maureen O’Hara’s 95th birthday by taking a look at photos from her career.

U.K. singer Marina Diamandis—of Marina and the Diamonds—talks to Rolling Stone about her career. Diamandis discusses the misunderstanding surrounding female pop stars “that they can’t possibly be creating the art themselves—there must be a man behind it.”

Shows We Want to See

Margaret Harrison’s sexually-charged art exhibition in 1971 was dubbed “indecent” by the police, closing after a single day.

Harrison continues to expand her feminist art approach in her new exhibition at the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima).

Photographer Mary Ellen Mark’s last assignment was to document the state of New Orleans ten years after Hurricane Katrina. Organized by CNN and the International Center of Photography, the exhibition’s photographs include wall text and an online exhibition that elaborate on the subjects’ stories.

Francesca Woodman’s photographs explore gender, representation, sexuality, and body in an upcoming exhibition at Moderna Museet.

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

5 Fast Facts: Patricia Piccinini

Impress your friends with five fast facts about Patricia Piccinini, whose work is currently on view in Super Natural.

Patricia Piccinini (b. 1965)

Patricia Piccinini, The Stags, 2008; Fiberglass, automotive paint, leather, steel, plastic, and rubber, 69 ¾ x 72 x 40 ¼ in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, D.C.; Photograph by Laura Hoffman; On view in Super Natural

Patricia Piccinini, The Stags, 2008; Fiberglass, automotive paint, leather, steel, plastic, and rubber, 69 ¾ x 72 x 40 ¼ in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, D.C.; Photograph by Laura Hoffman

1. Push/Pull

Australian artist Patricia Piccinini constructs unexpected amalgamations. Her sculptures combine human and beastly features and transform vehicle parts into wild animals. The Young Family (2002–3) and The Stags (2008), both in NMWA’s collection, have been known to simultaneously allure and repel visitors.

2. Material Source

Piccinini explores the tension between nature and manufacture through her subjects and mediums. She typically employs a combination of natural and synthetic materials, blurring the lines between these two realms. The Young Family includes an unsettling mix of human hair and skin-like silicone developed for special effects in movies.

3. Source Material

The artist draws inspiration from sources as varied as anatomical models, botanical illustrations, photographs of newborn animals, consumer and car culture, and works by the 16th-century Italian painter Caravaggio.

Patricia Piccinini, The Young Family, 2002-3, Silicon acrylic, human hair, leather, timber; 36 x 65 x 50 in; Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, DC

Patricia Piccinini, The Young Family, 2002-3, Silicon, acrylic, human hair, leather, timber, 36 x 65 x 50 in; Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, DC

4. Artist Statement

The Young Family . . . [represents] a mother creature with her babies,” Piccinini says. “I imagine this creature to be bred for organ transplants. . . . We are trying to do [this] with pigs, so I gave her some pig-like features. That is the purpose humanity has chosen for her . . . [yet she] wants to exist for [her own] sake.”

5. Family Ties

The Stags is one of four works Piccinini created that use vehicle parts to evoke animal forms and the intimate relationships among these creatures. Taken as a series, the viewer empathizes with and imagines the narrative of this tight family unit.

—Addie Gayoso is associate educator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

 

5 Questions with Mary Tsiongas

The fourth installment of NMWA’s biennial exhibition series, Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015 is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition’s artists redefine the relationship between women, art and nature. Associate Curator Virginia Treanor spoke with emerging and contemporary women artists featured in Organic Matters.

Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015
Artist: Mary Tsiongas
Nominating committee: New Mexico State Committee / Consulting curator: Lisa Tamiris Becker, UNM Art Museum

1. Organic Matters includes art that refers or responds to the natural world. How does your work The Mercurial Dog Anticipates Her relate to the theme?

Mary Tsiongas; Photo by Aziza Murray

Mary Tsiongas; Photo by Aziza Murray

My vision for this piece, which is part of a body of work called The Likenesses of Light, was to relate the interdependence of plants, animals, and humans to the interrelationships of art forms through contemporary media. The work is informed by early film history, and in The Mercurial Dog Anticipates Her, I used a botanical print by Edward Skeats (a little-known artist in the collection of the UNM Art Museum) as a backdrop or environment for the action to happen. The work shows a scenario in the desert that alludes to childhood fables and folklore but also our deep dependence on water and animals for survival. I evoke fables and folklore because as children this is one way we learn about nature; we learn that nature is animated, alive, wise, tricky, powerful, humbling, etc.

2. Is this piece representative of your oeuvre? How does it fit into your larger body of work?

It is fairly representative of my most recent works. In the series “Vanish” and “The Likenesses of Light” I use paintings and drawings of landscapes/plants/animals by other artists as backdrops and then add or animate characters that manipulate the work in some form. The figures inhabit the paintings/drawings, erase them, blur them, and change them, alluding to our manipulation of and effect on our environment. The work also suggests the potential impermanence of new media and the durability of paintings. I was hoping for a playful dialogue with painting as an older tradition; it’s a frozen frame, a created moment in time, whereas video moves, connotes lapsed time, and is more ephemeral.

The piece that is in Organic Matters has a botanical drawing of a cactus as a backdrop and in the foreground I’ve added a figure of a girl and a coyote-like dog that appear to change and alter the cactus and thus the drawing. I am hoping the work tells a story of the interdependence of humans, animals and plants.

Mary Tsiongas, The Mercurial Dog Anticipates Her, 2013; LED monitor, 2-minute HD video loop, media player, and wooden frame, 33 x 24 x 4 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Richard Levy Gallery

Mary Tsiongas, The Mercurial Dog Anticipates Her, 2013; LED monitor, 2-minute HD video loop, media player, and wooden frame, 33 x 24 x 4 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Richard Levy Gallery

3. As an artist, what is your most essential tool? Why?

I do a lot of research for my work, or perhaps more appropriately “hunting” for information, images, objects that will spark the evolution and development of whatever I’m working on. So the computer is probably the most essential tool I use. But I also go to libraries and bookstores, and I walk in the desert to find this “information” as well.

I would also have to add a skill that is essential for me, and that is editing. Not just for video editing on my computer, editing is ultimately one of the most important skills an artist can have. You have to know what stays and what to get rid of or what doesn’t belong in the work.

4. Who or what are your sources of inspiration and/or influence?

In addition to my interest in folklore and metaphysics, I also have a background in science. I am currently reading (and sometimes rereading) Julian Barbour’s book The End of Time. It’s a book on the physics of time. Several years back I became very interested in “time” and how we understand it as humans. It evolved from an interest in trees and their immensely long lives; and in dendrochronology, the study of tree ring dating. I have been reading up on different ideas of time as much as I can. A few years back I saw David Wilson’s stereoscopic video Book of Wisdom and Lies at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in L.A. I was amazed how it seemed to represent the idea that time and space are linked; it’s also absolutely gorgeous. It has been another great inspiration.

5. What’s the last exhibition you saw that you had a strong reaction to?

Last fall I was part of an exhibition called Late Harvest curated by JoAnne Northrup at the Nevada Museum of Art. It was a remarkable exhibition that juxtaposed contemporary works, some of them using taxidermy, with historical wildlife paintings. The diversity of works and the way they were installed in the space was quite entrancing. There were works in the show that were disturbing, and many that were quite inspiring.

Art Fix Friday: August 14, 2015

Inmates at a women’s prison make art dedicated to female heroes. In a collective installation titled Shared Dining, a group of ten inmates created elaborate place settings dedicated to famous women who inspired the artists.

Wall Street Journal article calls the work, “a small refuge from the grim reality of incarceration.” Inspired by The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago, Shared Dining is on view at the Brooklyn Museum.

Front-Page Femmes

Western Australian artist Jukuja Dolly Snell wins the country’s most prestigious Indigenous art prize.

Mary Cassatt’s great-grandniece gives a Cassatt portrait of Col. Edward Buchanan—nicknamed “Grandpa”—to the National Gallery of Art.

ARTnews visits Nigerian artist Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze’s SoHo studio.

A sculpture by Phyllida Barlow is the first work in the new $750,000 fund for female artist acquisitions at the Nasher Sculpture Center.

The Huffington Post highlights 11 exceptional women artists—including Eva Hesse, Judy Chicago, Agnes Martin, and Kiki Smith.

Canadian artist Meryl McMaster uses blind contour drawings to sculpt wire masks.

The Huffington Post lists 8 female Dada artists who “shaped the trajectory of radical artmaking and radical feminism.”

Around 50 works from poet and author Maya Angelou’s collection will go to auction. The sale includes artwork by Faith Ringgold, Elizabeth Catlett, and Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe.

Hyperallergic explores Nicole Eisenman’s Seder at the Jewish Museum.

Sylvia Plath’s first job as a farm worker may have influenced her writing.

The Atlantic reviews the first full-length biography of famed author Joan Didion.

Stone Soup author Ann McGovern dies at the age of 85.

Cindy Sherman plays a character based on the opera singer Maria Callas in a new film.

Showtime adapts Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids for a TV series.

Less than a third of speaking roles in movies go to women.

Shows We Want to See

The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis will feature hand-woven, abstract fiber-based installation and sculptures from Sheila Hicks’s 60-year oeuvre.

Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty explores the artist’s hyper-real work as an “astute interpretation of our deepest impulses, compulsions, and fantasies.”

The first large-scale exhibition of Israeli artist Keren Cytter is on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Louise Bourgeois: By the Book

The exhibition catalogue Louise Bourgeois. Structures of Existence: The Cells (Prestel Publishing and Haus der Kunst, 2015) showcases the artist’s work creating Cells, a series of architectural sculptures that she worked on for twenty years, from 1986 through 2008.

These embody the belief of Bourgeois (1911–2010) that “space does not exist, it is just a metaphor for the structure of our existences.” The Cells are enclosures or cage forms, often incorporating mirrors, dummy-like figures, or staircases leading nowhere—nuanced and provocative spatial metaphors for her own personal history. The book compiles essays and conversations revealing Bourgeois’s influences and the way that her childhood experiences, coupled with recondite concepts from her early works, form the Cells series.

The book’s sections provide a comprehensive perspective on how Bourgeois’s life and memories influenced the Cells. Texts include conversations with Bourgeois’s long-time assistant Jerry Gorovoy, essays by renowned scholars, a short biography, and selected statements and quotations from the artist herself.

Several essays focus on a single Cell, such as the elaborate and cage-like Passage Dangereux (1997), and explain how the piece relates to Bourgeois’s oeuvre and biography. Other contributors focus on the abstract meanings behind the emotion-laden sculptural constructions. These complex emotions are rooted in Bourgeois’s difficult childhood, her aggression toward her philandering father, and the constant tension between her desires to remember the past and to forget it. Gorovoy states, “The Cells tell stories and are definitely autobiographical, but the emotions are universal.”

Exhibition connection:

Louise Bourgeois, Hairy Spider, 2001; Drypoint on paper, 19 x 16 in.; On loan from the Holladay Collection; Art © The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA New York; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Louise Bourgeois, Hairy Spider, 2001; Drypoint on paper, 19 x 16 in.; On loan from the Holladay Collection; Art © The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA New York; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Currently on view at NMWA in Super Natural, Louise Bourgeois’s drypoint print Hairy Spider depicts a spider, a common motif in the artist’s work.

Bourgeois associated spiders with patience, and she often likened them to her mother, whom she saw as patient to a fault when it came to handling her father’s adultery with her live-in nanny.

To capture her mother’s presence in painful memories from her childhood, Bourgeois included spiders in some of the Cells featured in the exhibition catalogue—the book reveals that Bourgeois often felt frustrated that her patient mother calmly tolerated this infidelity. The drypoint in Super Natural connects back to Bourgeois’s oft-revisited themes of spiders, patience, and motherhood.

—Christy Slobogin is the publications and marketing/communications intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.