In honor of International Women’s Day, our staff is highlighting #5WomenArtists for 2020 whose art inspires them! These artists use their creativity as a means of expression and advocacy as they encourage us to reflect on the world and consider our place in it. Join us in celebrating women around the globe and throughout time.
I’ve chosen the Japanese artist, Chiharu Shiota as a female artist to celebrate because of her ability to utterly transform a space using only string and simple objects like chairs, a piano or keys. Her installations mainly consist of delicate yarns strung in complicated networks that somehow feel solid and ephemeral at the same time. The yarn both obscures and highlights the objects they’re attached to, reminding us that we can’t always see the whole truth. Her work has a transfixing, dream-like quality that makes me feel like I’m immersed in someone else’s memories. I feel like having a window into another person’s experience is the ultimate result you could hope for when engaging in a piece of art.
“I create out of emotion. Everyone has a universe inside of them and I think it is our goal to connect our inner universe with the outside universe. This is something I try to make sense of with my work.”
Submitted by Elda Pineda, Deputy Director
Lauren Halsey is a contemporary artist from Los Angeles. Halsey’s work is deeply influenced by her architectural background, Afrofuturism, Hip Hop, and Funk music. Halsey creates large scale installations consisting of mom & pop storefront signage, scavenged knick-knacks/figurines, and a variety of other cultural markers that capture the realities and environments of predominantly Black neighborhoods in South Central LA. She was the recipient of the Hammer Museum’s prestigious Mohn Award in 2018 for her prototype of The Crenshaw District Hieroglyph Project and recently collaborated with Nike to release her own sneaker. Halsey is working with the city of LA to install a mausoleum-type structure that will honor and represent a neighborhood whose preservation of history and legacy is under the constant threat of gentrification. Lauren Halsey is one of my favorite artists at the moment and is a shining example of how artists can use their vision and talents to impact their communities.
“I view history, cultural memory, and the archive I’ve been gathering for over ten years as tools that can be used to mobilize people towards liberation. I see them as anchors for the process of describing and proposing new spatial paradigms and narratives.”
Submitted by Oscar Navarrete, Program Coordinator, Community
Becky Suss’s 2017 show, Homemaker, featured large-scale paintings of domestic interiors. Her work stood out to me because it’s reminiscent of Van Gough’s The Bedroom, and who doesn’t like catching a glimpse of someone’s home? Suss’s paintings are simultaneously intimate and devoid of human presence. Her clean lines and geometric shapes make us feel like we’re looking at a stage set, yet personal details — a ship in a bottle or towel hanging on a hook — provide a close-up view into the spaces traditionally occupied by women. Suss makes our most private spaces visible and reminds us that even our most mundane possessions convey a lot about ourselves and the choices we make.
“There’s this really rich inheritance of managing domestic space and life. Even the shift for me in thinking of this as a ‘heritage,’ thinking of it as something generations of women have done…”
Submitted by Madeline Miller, Associate Director, Institutional Giving
When I think of New York, and Harlem in particular, it is impossible for me not to think of Thelma Golden. Thelma began her career as a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Within 10 years, she became incredibly prominent and respected, known best for her curatorial contribution to the Whitney Biennial and groundbreaking exhibitions. In 2000, Thelma became the Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs at The Studio Museum in Harlem. With her guidance, The Studio Museum cemented its place in the fine art world. Now holding the title of Director and Chief Curator, Thelma has engaged the Harlem community and her influence has provided a launching pad for emerging black artists.
“The privilege I’ve had as a curator is not just the discovery of new works… but what I’ve discovered about myself and what I can offer in the space of an exhibition – to talk about beauty, to talk about power, to talk about ourselves, and to talk and speak to each other.”
Submitted by Liliana Wolking, Associate Director, Events & Individual Giving
Marta Minujín is an Argentine performance and conceptual artist and one of the founding minds behind art “happenings”. Born in Buenos Aires, where my family is from, her powerful works have repeatedly caught my eye over the years. In 2017 she recreated her El Partenón de Libros (The Parthenon of Books) from 1983 but this time in Germany instead of Buenos Aires. There she constructed a replica of the Parthenon using over 100,000 historically banned books and displayed it on the same grounds where Nazi sympathizers had once burned prohibited books. This structure stood as a symbol of democracy and freedom of speech, and in true Minjuín fashion, the books were distributed to the public when the structure was dismantled. Her fearless creation and destruction of her own work is something I have always admired.
“I wanted to interpret reality and express it my own way.”
Submitted by Gaby Palmadessa, Advancement Assistant
Chiharu Shiota, taken by Saul Steed
Lauren Halsey, for Nike News
Becky Suss, taken by George Chinsee
Thelma Golden, for New York Times
Marta Minujín, for Flaunt