In Solidarity presents print works from the Museum’s collection created by 31 revolutionary women artists (from the 1960s to the present) who employed art to express their resistance to social injustices. These women were active during and after the second wave generation of the feminist movement as self-proclaimed women artists whose artwork emphasized the female experience. Founders of feminist art, such as Mariam Schapiro, Judy Chicago, May Stevens, and Nancy Spero demanded visibility and respect from the larger art world, which historically privileged the white, heterosexual male experience.
This exhibition conveys important insights into these first and second-generation feminist women’s lives, and their artwork, both of which coincide. They sought to redefine female identity, oppose the prescribed roles of women, and reclaim the female body. As art critic Lucy Lippard explained about feminist art, it was “neither a style nor a movement,” but instead “a value system, a revolutionary strategy, a way of life.”
While one of the primary critiques of second-wave feminism is that it favored the experience of white women, this exhibition demonstrates a broader point of view and includes many feminist artists of color. Faith Ringgold, Hung Liu, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Betye Saar, and Yreina Cervantez have strongly reflected their identities and experiences in their art. Given that the first major feminist art collectives of the 1970s tended to be comprised of white women, female artists of color united to form their own collectives.
Critical discourse surrounding the movement preceded some of the foundational principles of postmodernism, most significantly that certain categories, such as gender and race, are socially constructed. Some feminists also cautioned against essentialism and assigning universal characteristics to groups of people; they instructed us to recognize the diversity existing within groups. The question of what is conventionally considered as “high” art arose as many of these artists also experimented with a variety of media and methods, including performance art, installation work, and public art.
Found throughout this exhibition are images that reveal a socio-political consciousness against discrimination and systems of oppression. Many address racism, sexism, patriarchy, ageism, or colonialism. The efforts of these artists have helped empower future generations to advance the struggle and to embrace one’s own identity, not only as individuals, but also within the milieu of a revolutionary collective.
Free and Open to the Public