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PHOTOS: This Exhibition Revisits Feminist Art From the 1970s

The show opens at the Archives of American Art on November 26.

Photograph courtesy of the Archives of American Art.

The Archives of American Art’s new exhibition examines feminism, past and present. The show, titled What Is Feminist Art?, features work from hundreds of artists across the country, from the height of the Women’s Movement in the 1970s to the present.

The show revisits an exhibition originally presented in Los Angeles in 1977. Activists Ruth Iskin, Lucy Lippard, and Arlene Raven sent pink postcards to artists asking them to share their thoughts on what feminist art might be using their preferred medium. They received responses in the form of manifestos, paintings, poems, and other works by hundreds of artists across the country.

This time, the Archives asked artists the same question, and will display the new work alongside pieces that appeared in the original show. “This exhibition is the first time the Archives has commissioned new material on this scale, putting it in conversation with historical material,” the director of the Archives, Kate Haw, said in a press release. “We are excited to see what kind of dialogue emerges from these juxtapositions.

Check out some highlights from the show below.

Photographs courtesy of the Archives of American Art.

The late Ellen Lanyon’s work often featured images from nature with a surreal twist. The Chicago-born artist contributed this 1976 self-portrait to the original show. The exhibition was held at the historic Woman’s Building in Los Angeles, a feminist gallery and community space.

Mexican artist Tanya Aguiñiga uses her work to create opportunities for conversations about gender and identity. Her 2019 collage is a picture of solidarity, denouncing patriarchal systems in the clearest possible terms.

Sheila Levrant de Bretteville co-founded the Woman’s Building in 1971, and has focused on women’s issues for much of her career. Her 1976 collage combines her response to the exhibition prompt in a letter to writer Deena Metzger with Metzger’s own response, alternating line by line.

Based in Chicago, Laura Kina explores race and identity through a variety of mediums, inspired by her Okinawan and Hawaiian heritage. This painting was completed this year, and is among the newer works in the show.

Nina Kuo is a multimedia artist who often places traditionally-dressed Chinese women in modern day scenarios. Here, the Chinese American artist, who is based in New York, sets a young woman’s visage against a collection of works that raises questions about representation, gender, and identity.

What is Feminist Art? is on view at the Archives of American Art from November 26 until November 2020; Free.

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Nathan Diller
Editorial Fellow

Nathan is an editorial fellow at Washingtonian. Originally from Nashville, he graduated from Columbia Journalism School with a master’s degree in 2019. His work has also appeared in SPIN, NYLON, and Nashville Lifestyles.