By Alexis Andreopoulos
In a time when expression seems to be of utmost importance, the Phoenix Art Museum has prompted conversation around artists’ gender inequality with their exhibit In the Company of Women.
The exhibit, which opened in the beginning of July, presents nearly 50 works of women artists to be seen in a new light. In the Company of Women: Women Artists is an exhibition of 50 20th- and 21st- century artworks from the museum’s own collection and holdings.
“In the Company of Women was part-inspired by the first comprehensive survey exhibition of women artists in the United Sates, Women Artists: 1550-1950, organized by Linda Nochlin and Ann Sutherland Harris at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1976. Its intent was to make more widely known the achievements of women artists who have historically been excluded from mainstream art,” said Rachel Zebro, the museum’s curatorial associate of modern and contemporary art.
The exhibition features an array of styles and media, with works from Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, Faith Ringgold, Erica Deeman, Daniela Rossell, and many others.
“With a similar intent in mind, in the company of women is an opportunity for visitors to recognize the talent of these artists drawn exclusively from the museum’s collection. It’s also a very timely exhibition, and in this context, In the Company of Women is an engagement with contemporary phenomena focusing on women and gender inequality, as well as an engagement with feminist scholarship that for decades has aimed to produce a more complete history of artistic production,” Zebro said.
Creating a new context for some of the museum’s most iconic pieces, and in the era of the #MeToo movement, this exhibit has prompted conversations about gender inequality, the exclusion of women from mainstream art circles, and the idea that artistic production should be understood in the context of society at large.
“Exhibitions like In the Company of Women provide us with the opportunity to talk about the idea that women are objects that pervade everyday life, such as the idea that women are objects of representation rather than active producers of art and history,” Zebro Said.
In the Company of Women explores the fact that works by women artists only makes up 3 to 5 percent of major museum collections in the United States and Europe. This exhibition also showcases the fact that some of the most beloved pieces in the museum collection are items by women artists.
“I hope women feel empowered. Every single one of these works challenges convention and expands the traditional arts often associated with women through their use of process, materials, styles, or subject matter,” Zebro said. “I believe these are artists who adhered to individual expression and did not conform to any preconceived notion of ‘greatness.’”
Zebro’s goal is to open the eyes of the public in realization. “Walking away from this exhibition, I hope everyone realizes that there have always been great women artists, just fewer opportunities,” she said.
In the Company of Women is on exhibit until August 12 at Phoenix Art Museum. For more information, visit phxart.org.
For more art exhibits in Phoenix Art Museum, visit our events page.