Displaying items by tag: Women In Art

Written by Allison Pinegar.

Whitney Tassie is the curator of modern and contemporary art at the UMFA and the woman behind the upcoming exhibition A Fuller Picture: Selections from the Modern and Contemporary Collection for the UMFA’s reopening on August 26, 2017. In preparation for the all-women show, The Finer Points will be highlighting female artists from the UMFA’s collection, the state of Utah, and the University of Utah.

In 2015 Art News reported the statistics of female representation in the art world. The statistics are staggering, revealing that despite recent efforts of art institutions, there is still significant bias. Maura Reilly’s article is partly what inspired Whitney Tassie, the UMFA’s curator of modern and contemporary art, to curate an all-women show for the museum’s reopening in August. “When you see the numbers it’s shocking. The arts are not a particularly stat-heavy industry, it’s fairly unregulated. But when someone takes the time to do that it’s very telling,” Tassie explains. And she’s not wrong – in April 2015 only 7% of the works on display from their permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art were by women. Reilly’s call to “right the balance” is not off base nor petty.

Tassie’s exhibition, A Fuller Picture: Selections from the Modern and Contemporary Collection will showcase works by female artists from the UMFA’s permanent collection, including both local, national and international artists. Works by names like Yayoi Kusama, Anna Campbell Bliss, Helen Frankenthaler, Jann Haworth, and a new Faith Ringgold acquisition will be on display for two years. The Kusama and Frankenthaler pieces were the first two works Tassie knew needed to be displayed in the new gallery space. From there, she began to consider how these various artists expand the definitions of movements like abstract expressionism, minimalism, and pop art, but also how some of these women defy those categories, complicating the traditional art historical narrative.

While shows featuring only women are gaining popularity, they are still problematic in some sense. “It is a problem that we’ve only seen these women in all-women group shows. Let’s talk about that,” Tassie presses. “It opens myself and the museum up for criticism, but in doing that we start a dialogue and we can talk about the history of exhibitions and of representation of women artists in museum collections.” Acknowledging the “baggage” that comes with doing a show like this offers opportunities for visitors to really consider the role of the museum. To further emphasize these issues, the exhibition will include a reading nook where visitors can learn more about the history of women in the art world and the statistics that prompted Tassie to curate A Fuller Picture.

The UMFA seeks to be a place of inclusion and scholarship, as well as to provide compelling, relevant, and insightful exhibitions for the University and local community. These goals were upheld in the remodel. “The changes we’re making in how visitors engage with the art and the Museum’s unique spaces will make the UMFA more relevant than ever in the lives of our audiences,” UMFA executive director, Gretchen Dietrich said in an April press release. A Fuller Picture encompasses these goals, offering space for patrons to consider why art museums own more art made by men than women, and what it means to be a woman. Tassie states, “I am grateful that the museum can be a platform for these conversations that are feeling ever-more urgent today – a renewed urgency, anyway – to talk about feminism and to try to dispel some of the myths or paint a more inclusive picture of feminism or art history.”

Be sure to catch A Fuller Picture: Selections from the Modern and Contemporary Collection when the UMFA reopens to the public on August 26, 2017. The reopening will include a two-day celebration featuring talks, tours, films, a dance part and more! For additional information about the UMFA, visit UMFA.

Published in Finer Points Blog