Since many of our readers very much enjoyed our April issue, where we asked our writers to pick one work of art anywhere in the world and tell us why it’s important, we decided to do a variation on that idea for our May issue, as museums and galleries are still mostly closed. For May, we asked our writers, in honor of 2020 being “The Year of the Woman in the Arts” (it’s been l00 years since women were allowed to vote), to select a work of art by a woman artist, and to tell our readers, again, why it’s important. Those columns appear in this new issue of Aeqai, which has just posted, and it’s a fascinating issue, the selections varied and the writers confident and assured in their choices. Many of the artists who were selected are living women, although several are not, and one goes back to the 12th century.
Cynthia Kukla’s selection of Hildegard of Bingen, a multidisciplinary artist/spiritual being, musician, is our first article; Kukla first learned of her in an art history class, and eventually went to the town where Hildegard is buried as a tribute to this early woman artist: we urge you to read this utterly fascinating piece. Jonathan Kamholtz also selected a woman artist from the past, early photographer Anna Atkins, who was British; her very early studies of seaweed and , eventually, plants is a brilliant read, and also sheds light on photography’s earliest days, before the invention of the daguerrotype. And Ekin Erkan selected Camille Claudel, who was originally best known as Rodin’s mistress/model et. al.; using his own new translations of some of her writings, he offers a new perspective on her piece called “The Gossips”, in original research of sheer brilliance.
Annabel Osberg chose work by painter Remedios Varo, which looks both Gothic and Surreal concurrently; she analyses/describes the work at hand as if it’s a fairy tale of sorts, with fascinating conclusions. Megan Bickel decided to choose two different women artists, in two separate analyses , the first of work by Tala Madani’s painting “Projections” and the second of work by Emily Mae Smith and Genesis Belanger at Perruti Gallery in NYC. Both essays interweave art history and critical theory to great effect. Josh Beckelhimer, whose main interests are in film as well as visual arts, selected Belgian filmmaker Chantel Akerman for analysis. And Marlene Steele, herself one of our region’s finest figurative painters, selected a figurative painting by Isobel Bishop, and writes with great passion about the difficulties of being a woman artist specializing in the nude figure.
We asked art collector, activist, and philanthropist Sara Vance Waddell to submit a piece for this issue, as she’s widely known regionally and nationally for her advocation of work by women artists, particularly in museums nation wide, and her short essay on the importance of Carolee Schneemann is compelling and urgent. Susan Byrnes’ essay grew out of the circumstances of the pandemic, during which she has been doing a lot of walking; she examines the work of women artists such as Sophie Calle, whose work examines walking as a feminist political statement, in a strong essay of real importance; women walking without catcalls, or harassment, or physical attack, is the point of her essay. And Jennifer Perusek, our fashion critic, examines the importance of former “Vogue” editor Diana Vreeland, who built the Costume /Fashion Department at The Met in NYC into one of the museum’s greatest strengths; Perusek hones in on Vreeland’s show of couture by Yves St. Laurent, radical at the time as he was a living artist (I saw that show, myself, and it was indeed spectacular). Kent Krugh’s Fotofolio this month is photographs by Cincinnati photographer Lisa Britton.
Laura Hobson continues with her series on how museums work behind the scenes, this month giving our readers a brilliant look into how The Cincinnati Art Museum, in particular, acquires art (it’s a complex process, to be sure), how former Director of The Taft Museum of Art Phillip Long acquired two important pieces for The Taft, and how The Skirball Museum at Hebrew Union College acquires its art. And I offer three book reviews this month (have obviously had extra reading time at home), “The Exhibition of Persephone Q”, “Simon The Fiddler”, and “The Mountains Sing”, all by women novelists.
We think that this is a very important issue, as the rich selection of women artists whose work is analyzed manifests a completely, relatively new (fifty years, at most) , appreciation and understanding of, in some cases, issues directly related to being a woman and a woman artist, and to the rich vocabulary of imagery and the high intelligence brought to the artworld through the work of women like these. Women are still woefully underrepresented in museum exhibitions, perhaps a little less so in galleries, and we hope that readers of this issue will see the power and the quality of work by the women written about here and help our institutions show more work like that described here. To go directly to the new issue, click onto www.aeqai.org and it’ll go directly there.
As always, we welcome your comments and remarks (and any donations, if you’re able to: ad revenue has basically dried up for all the media these days, and we’re a nonprofit, so we could use your help. If interested, send an email to [email protected] and we’ll let you know how to help.