IN JUNE, ARTNEWS DEVOTED a special issue to women in the art world and the findings revealed a major gulf between the experiences of male and female artists and curators. According to ARTnews, women are seriously underrepresented when it comes to running major museums. Female artists trail far behind men when it comes to auction values, appearances on the covers of art magazines and advertisements within the publications, inclusion in museum exhibitions, and gallery representation. Even women-owned galleries represent far fewer female artists than male ones.
“There have been wonderful changes for women artists in the past 40-some years, and I know these women now in a way that I didn’t when my career began. As a student I went to the library to find books on women photographers and found there were very few,” artist Carrie Mae Weems wrote in a contribution to the women’s issue.
“Since then, there has been considerable improvement. However, although women artists are now being exhibited more, their work is still not valued to the extent of the male artists’. We are still a psychological and cultural distance away from recognizing and valuing them.”
Earlier this year, Culture Type exhibition listings in the spring and summer included just a few shows devoted to black female artists. Far from exhaustive, the roundups were representative of the exhibitions on view at the time. Echoing Weems, “there has been considerable improvement” this fall, the season when art institutions generally present their marquee shows. But, as the artist’s comments also indicate, any sense of parity remains elusive.
This selection of fall 2015 exhibitions features artists spanning three generations and represents many “firsts,” including “Dead Treez” at the Museum of Arts and Design, Ebony G. Patterson‘s first monographic museum show in New York (shown above):
1. Nina Chanel Abney
Oct. 15 – Nov. 14, 2015
“NINA CHANEL ABNEY: Always a Winner” @ Kravets Wehby Gallery | New York, N.Y.
A riot of figures, symbols, shapes, words and colors, Nina Chanel Abney‘s latest work weighs in on the tension between police and the black community. The multi-panel paintings cut to the chase with titles including “Who,” “What,” “Where,” “When,” and “Why,” all executed this year. “People who are familiar with my work know that I’m always picking hot topics,” Abney recently told Vanity Fair. “Whatever I feel like painting, I just paint it. For me, nothing is off-limits.”
2. Ifeoma Anyaeji
IFEOMA AMYAEJI, Installation view, in foreground, “Owu,” 2015 (plastic yarn, twine, wool, and found objects); in background “Eze fuo eze anochi – When a king dies another replaces him,” 2013-15 (plasto yarn, twine, wire mesh and bubbles). | via Skoto Gallery
Sept. 24 – Nov. 7, 2015
“IFEOMA ANYAEJI: Owu (Threading)” @ Skoto Gallery | New York, N.Y.
Nigerian-born Ifeoma Anyaeji is presenting a series of recent mixed-media sculpture composed of found materials—biodegradable bags and bottles that she has up-cycled. According to the gallery, her work is “dense with visual complexity that reflects an awareness of a vast array of both formal and inherited traditions while exploring their aesthetic, sensual, and visual content to assert a different declaration, and a new way of making art.”
3. Njideka Akunyili-Crosby
Sept. 12 – Nov. 21, 2015
“NJIDEKA AKUNYILI-CROSBY: The Beautyful Ones” @ Art + Practice | Los Angeles
In her first exhibition in Los Angeles, where she lives and works, Njideka Akunyili Crosby is presenting a series of new work that continues her ongoing exploration of “intimacy and interiority” in domestic life. Born in Nigeria, Akunyili Crosby’s large-scale works combine collage, painting, drawing and printmaking and “challenge conventions of portraiture, even as they filter a number of art historical and literary influences.” Two films by Akosua Adoma Owusu accompany the exhibition which is being presented in conjunction with “Hammer Projects: Njideka Akunyili-Crosby” at the Hammer Museum.
Oct. 3, 2015 – Jan. 10, 2016
“Hammer Projects: NJIDEKA AKUNYILI-CROSBY” @ Hammer Museum | Los Angeles
Nigerian-born Njideka Akunyili-Crosby won the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s James Dicke Contemporary Art Prize in 2014. Chosen among a competitive field that included Theaster Gates, Julie Mehretu and Mickalene Thomas, she was recognized for her innovative works capturing domestic environments and intimate interactions depicting “postcolonial African cosmopolitanism and her experiences as an expatriate living in America.” This exhibition features a selection of large-scale works on paper that combine collage, painting, drawing, printmaking. Akunyili Crosby lives and works in Los Angeles where this exhibition marks her museum debut in the city.
4. Sheila Pree Bright
SHEILA PREE BRIGHT, “#ReclaimMLKDay | 1960Noww
Sept. 25 – Nov. 28, 2015
“SHEILA PREE BRIGHT: 1960Now” @ Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia | Atlanta
Known for her unique approach to portrait photography, Sheila Pree Bright‘s “1960Now” “celebrates a generation of leaders from Atlanta and elsewhere in the American South who became the catalyst for social change in the early 1960s.” Described as Bright’s most ambitious project yet, she explores a range of “visual culture production” to emphasize the connection between 1960s activism and contemporary protest and change campaigns including #blacklivesmatter movement.
5. Bethany Collins
Sept. 11 – Oct. 31, 2015
“BETHANY COLLINS: Inquiry’s End” @ Richard Gray Gallery | Chicago
Based in New York and Atlanta, Bethany Collins‘s practice considers the intersection of race and language. A 2014 Artist-in-Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, she “takes the material of the classroom—paper, Pink Pearl erasers, graphite, old dictionaries and, more broadly, language itself—to create spare, poetically charged works on paper, objects and wall-based installations.” “Inquiry’s End,” is her first solo exhibition in Chicago and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog.
6. LaToya Ruby Frazier
LATOYA RUBY FRAZIER performing her 2014 Pier 54 project on the New York City High Line in which she brandishes flags printed historic photographs linked to the pier. | via Carré d’Art-Musée d’Art Contemporain
Oct. 16, 2015 – March 13, 2016
“LATOYA RUBY FRAZIER: Performing Social Landscapes” @ Carré d’Art-Musée d’Art Contemporain | Nimes, France
Photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier‘s first solo institutional exhibition in France presents selections from several of her documentary projects, including the video “Frazier Take on Levi’s” and photographs from “Pier 54,” and the foundation of her work, images that examine the decline of the population and steel industry of her hometown of Braddock, Pa. (“Campaign for Braddock Hospital” and “The Notion of Family”).
7. Jennie C. Jones
Dec. 12, 2015 – March 27, 2016
“JENNIE C. JONES: Compilation” @ Contemporary Art Museum Houston | Houston, Texas
Working in abstraction and minimalism, conceptual artist Jennie C. Jones‘s unique practice considers the intersection of visual art and jazz “to reveal the complex and often parallel legacies of the mid-20th century’s social, cultural, and political experimentations.” This mid-career survey explores Jones’s 15-year career and features paintings, works on paper and sculpture, along with a new series of Acoustic painting and a site-specific installation created especially for the exhibition. A monograph with contributions from curator Valerie Cassel Oliver, and Hilton Als, George Lewis, and Huey Copeland, will be published to coincide with the exhibition. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, she lives and works in Brooklyn, N.Y.
8. Deana Lawson
Sept. 5, 2015 – Jan. 10, 2016
“DEANA LAWSON: Ruttenberg Contemporary Photography Series” @ The Art Institute of Chicago | Chicago
New York-based photographer Deanna Lawson is featured in the first installment of the biennial Ruttenberg Contemporary Photography Series. The subjects of her staged photographs “channel broader ideas about personal and social histories, sexuality, status, and spiritual beliefs.”
9. Lorraine O’Grady
LORRAINE O’GRADY, “Art Is. . . (Girlfriends Times Two),” 1983/2009 (chromogenic color print). | Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York. © 2015 Lorraine O’Grady/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York via Studio Museum in Harlem
July 16, 2015 – March 6, 2016
“LORRAINE O’GRADY: Art Is…” @ Studio Museum in Harlem | New York, N.Y.
Every September, Harlem turns out for the African American Day Parade. In 1983, Lorraine O’Grady entered a float in the parade, taking her “Art Is…” performance art project to the streets. The artist and 15 collaborators road on the float with a bounty of empty gold art frames in tow. As the parade progressed up Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard (Seventh Avenue), they waded into the crowd where people—children, couples and even the NYPD—posed in the frames. More than three decades later, this exhibition revisits the live performance in 40 images that document the day.
10. Ebony G. Patterson
Nov. 10, 2015 – April 3, 2016
“EBONY G. PATTERSON: Dead Treez” @ Museum of Arts and Design | New York, N.Y.
Known for her highly embellished and lavishly adorned sculptures, tapestries and paintings, and recent cameos of her work on the hit TV series “Empire,” Ebony G. Patterson considers issues of visibility and representation through the lens of race, gender, class and the media. She splits her time between Lexington, Ky., and her native Kingston, Jamaica, a source of inspiration and direction in the subjects she explores. For Patterson’s first monographic museum show in New York, she is presenting six tapestries and a life-sized tableau composed of six mannequins dressed in a “kaleidoscopic mix of floral fabrics” that “present a complex vision of what it means to be male in contemporary Jamaican culture” (image at top of page).
11. Howardena Pindell
Sept. 11 – Oct. 29, 2015
HOWARDENA PINDELL @ Honor Fraser | Los Angeles
Howard Pindell‘s first solo exhibition on the West Coast draws on five decades of her practice. Described by the gallery as a “significant figure in the discourse around abstract painting, conceptual art, and identity politics, Pindell has explored the potential for abstract painting and process-based practices to address social issues throughout her career.” This exhibition focuses on two areas of work: her abstracts—paintings and constructions on canvas, paper and board; and an ongoing series of photographic prints that combine photography, video and drawing that she calls “video drawings.” Born in Philadelphia, Pindell is based in New York.
Aug. 25 – Dec. 5, 2015
HOWARDENA PINDELL @ Spelman College Museum of Fine Art | Atlanta
Throughout her five-decade career, Howardena Pindell has distilled social issues through her multidisciplinary practice. Known for her abstract painting and conceptual art, this exhibition features “her oblong and un-stretched canvases, as well as her experimentation with hole-punched dots, hand drawn arrows, printed text, and personal postcards.” Born in Philadelphia, Pindell is an artist, curator and writer who is based in New York where she is also a professor at Stonybrook University.
12. Alison Saar
Nov. 11, 2015 – April 3, 2016
ALISON SAAR, “Bearing” @ Museum of the African Diaspora | San Francisco
Los Angeles-based artist Alison Saar explores African American culture and history, including the legacy of slavery, spiritual traditions and the generational experiences of black women. In this exhibition of 26 works, her sculptures and installations consider “the ways in which the legacy of history bears on the body, and how this history both shapes and guides the way society conceptualizes identity. [Saar’s] interest in the body, specifically the mothering body, presents both the corporeal and cultural endurance of African American women.”
13. Zina Saro-Wiwa
Sept. 26 – Dec. 19, 2015
“ZINA SARO-WIWA: Did You Know We Taught Them How to Dance?” @ Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston | Houston, Texas
For her first solo museum exhibition, British-Nigerian video artist and filmmaker Zina Saro-Wiwa is presenting recent photography and video and sound installations produced in the Niger Delta. Saro-Wiwa “uses folklore, masquerade traditions, religious practices, food and Nigerian popular aesthetics to test art’s capacity to transform and to envision new concepts of environment and environmentalism.”
14. Shinique Smith
Oct. 9, 2015 – Jan. 10, 2016
“SHINIQUE SMITH: Wonder and Rainbows” @ Frist Center for the Visual Arts | Nashville
Evocative of her own experiences, observations and values, Shinique Smith‘s highly expressive paintings, sculptures, and installations often incorporate personal possessions which she believes “can inspire memories and shape our experience and identity.” Drawing on a range of influences from music, fashion and poetry to and Eastern spirituality and Abstract Expressionism, for this exhibition she is presenting a new site-specific wall painting, a multi-paneled wall piece, 10 collage paintings and four hanging “bundle” sculptures composed of discarded clothing.
15. Renee Stout
Sept. 26 – Dec. 19, 2015
“RENEE STOUT: Wild World” @ Hemphill Fine Art | Washington, D.C.
Working in a range of mediums from painting and photography to assemblage, Renee Stout “confronts difficult realities in her personal life and attempts to better understand the human condition.” Always looking forward and beyond the moment, her work is metaphoric and spiritual, responding to today’s “Wild World” of gun violence and the demise of cultural and societal heritage via a Room of Spirits and with mechanical devices composed of found objects capable of conjuring magical, divine energy. Stout lives and works in Washington, D.C.
16. Martine Syms
Sept. 17 – Nov. 1, 2015
“MARTINE SYMS: Vertical Elevated Oblique” @ Bridget Donahue Gallery | New York, N.Y.
A Los Angeles-based book publisher and artist who works in performance and video, Martine Syms describes herself as a conceptual entrepreneur. Her latest exhibition features new works inspired by an amusing and hard truth: “Everybody wanna be a black woman but nobody wanna be a black woman.” The presentation includes video, theatrical outtakes from the film world (“costumes, staged objects, a monochromatic fake wall, and a color filter used for simulating purple neon or a nightclub atmosphere”), photography, and a pop-up book shop where editions from Dominica, Syms’s imprint, are for sale
17. Mickalene Thomas
MICKALENE THOMAS, “Marie: Femme noire nue couchée,” 2012 (rhinestones, acrylic, oil and enamel on wood panel). | Courtesy Mickalene Thomas, Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York via Telfar Museums
Sept. 11, 3015 – Jan. 3, 2016
“MICKALENE THOMAS at Giverny” @ Telfair Museums | Savannah, Ga.
Mickalene Thomas‘s rhinestone-embellished, mixed-media paintings depict powerful black women against culturally rich backgrounds and also capture textured, enviable interiors and lush landscapes. In 2011, Thomas did a residency at Claude Monet’s home in Giverny, France, and the works inspired by her time there are featured in this exhibition. According to the museum, “Thomas was influenced by the realization that Monet had carefully appointed his residence and gardens to create the ideal creative retreat. The collage effect apparent in Thomas’s Giverny landscapes and interiors mirrors Monet’s desire to piece together spaces as individual sites of inspiration.”
18. Kara Walker
Oct. 1 – Nov. 7, 2015
“KARA WALKER: Go to Hell or Atlanta, Whichever Comes First” @ Victoria Miro Gallery | London
Often relying on challenging and provocative images, Kara Walker‘s practice examines issues of race, gender, power and subjugation through the lens of the antebellum South. In the first of two solo exhibitions with Victoria Miro, Kara Walker is presenting a new body of work inspired by the fraught racial history Atlanta, the Southern city where she spent her teenage years. Two major installations created for the show reference Stone Mountain, a granite monolith that features an unfinished carving of Confederate generals on horseback.
In November at its Mayfair location, Victoria Miro will mount an exhibition of sketches, preparatory drawings and models related to the production of the opera Norma that Walker directed in May and June 2015, during the 56th Venice Biennale.
19. Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
Oct. 30, 2015 – Feb. 14, 2016
“Capsule 03: LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE” @ Haus der Kunst Museum | Munich, Germany
In 2014, Haus der Kunst began what it describes as a new program of focused one gallery exhibitions that explore recent developments among a generation emerging international artists. The exhibition series engages audiences in the production of new work produced at critical points of creative breakthrough in the artists’s careers. Known for her deft portrayals of compelling figures, British painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is creating new works for the third iteration of the Capsule exhibition program.
20. Brenna Youngblood
Nov. 13, 2015 – June 12, 2016
BRENNA YOUNGBLOOD: Gwendolyn Knight | Jacob Lawrence Prize Exhibition @ Seattle Art Museum | Seattle
In October 2014, the Seattle Art Museum announced Brenna Youngblood as the winner of the 2015 Gwendolyn Knight | Jacob Lawrence Prize, an honor that includes a solo exhibition at the museum. Based in Los Angeles, Youngblood’s works spans photography, collage, painting, assemblage and sculpture. In making the announcement, the museum described her practice thus: “Youngblood explores the iconography of public and private suburban experience, issues of identity, ethics, and representation, and the politics of abstraction using photo-based collage, painting, assemblage, and sculpture.” CT
TOP IMAGE: EBONY G. PATTERSON, Installation view at John Michael Kohler Arts Center of “Swag Swag Krew (from the Out and Bad series),” 2011–14 (cotton, velvet, lace, plastic, and mixed media). | Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, IL. Photo by John Michael, Kohler Arts Center
MORE FALL EXHIBITIONS
Gallery Openings: 21 Fall Exhibitions Featuring Black Artists