NBMAA Presents SOME DAY IS NOW: WOMEN, ART & SOCIAL CHANGE

The show will run October 1, 2020-January 24, 2021.

By: Sep. 09, 2020

The New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA) is honored to present Some Day is Now: Women, Art & Social Change from October 1, 2020 through January 24, 2021. Marking the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in America, the exhibition links past with present, by showcasing historic ephemera from the women's suffrage movement with nearly 100 works by iconic American artists of the 20th and 21st centuries whose work advocates for social empowerment and change.

During the 1800s, members of the American women's suffrage movement developed peaceful, democratic strategies to promote women's right to vote. In addition to staging lectures, publications, speaking tours, and parades, they utilized eye-catching visual media in the form of protest banners, billboards, posters, pins, advertisements, and sashes. These objects were effective in communicating thought-provoking messages, educating the public about women's suffrage, and galvanizing support and social change throughout the nation. As part of these efforts, the 19th Amendment was introduced in Congress in 1878, seeking to establish that "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." Forty years later, on August 26, 1920, the amendment was officially adopted into the American Constitution. That November, more than 8 million women across the United States voted in elections for the first time.

While the 19th Amendment represents a landmark achievement, the fight for women's rights, human rights, and social justice continues today throughout the United States and beyond. Some Day is Now: Women, Art & Social Change features female-identifying artists whose work reveals and challenges injustice and inequalities of all kinds, whether political, social, racial, sexual, or otherwise. These artists, including Elizabeth Catlett, Betye Saar, Barbara Kruger, the Guerrilla Girls, Jenny Holzer, Cauleen Smith, Stephanie Syjuco, and Yoko Ono, among others, combine language, text, and image to express hope, enact change, raise awareness, and give voice to their beliefs. Installed with historic ephemera from the women's suffrage movement, and employing similarly direct and impactful visual strategies, their works communicate words of action and empowerment for women as well as people of all genders, races, and ethnicities.

Highlights in the exhibition include women's suffrage posters and bulletins on loan from Harvard Libraries, as well as historic photographs of suffrage marches and activists from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Connecticut Historical Society. Presented alongside historic ephemera are a selection of works from Faith Ringgold's (b. 1930) Declaration of Independence and Freedom series, including All Men Are Created Equal and And Women?, both from 2009. Assemblage sculptures by Betye Saar (b. 1926) including Liberate (25 mammies), 2015; as well as works on paper by Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012) and Aminah Brenda Lyyn Robinson (1940-2015), address voting rights and civil rights alike.

A dazzling suite of prints by Corita Kent (1918-1986) recall the bold design of suffrage posters, while reflecting concerns that dominated the 1960s and 70s, including equal rights, women's liberation, and Vietnam era protests for peace. Similar issues are addressed in works by Nancy Spero (1926-2009), Martha Rosler (b.1943), Mary Kelly (b. 1941), Annette Lemieux (b. 1957), and Yoko Ono (b. 1933). Among several works by Ono, including her IMAGINE PEACE flag installed outside the NBMAA, visitors will also encounter her interactive artwork WISH TREE (1996/2020). A collaborative project between the artist and her audience, WISH TREE is Ono's open invitation to viewers to write their own wishes on small tags that the writer then hangs on a live tree-making a living monument to all our dreams, big and small.

Through an array of paintings, photographs, and video, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (b. 1940) and Ana Mendieta (1948-1985) explore analogies between the exploitation and subjugation of women and land, as well as the healing power of ritual and magic.

Combining text, image, and references to mass media, artists including Barbara Kruger (b. 1945), Jenny Holzer (b. 1950), the Guerrilla Girls (formed 1985), and Carrie Mae Weems (b. 1953) confront gender stereotypes and disparities-including unequal pay, objectification, and disproportionately lower representation in the arts, compared to male colleagues. Barbara Kruger's iconic print series Untitled (We will no longer be seen and not heard), 1985, encapsulates the spirit of empowerment and resistance that prevails throughout the exhibition.

Contemporary artist Cauleen Smith (b. 1967) is represented by an installation of large-scale banners entitled SOJOURNERS, 2018, named in homage to women's right activist Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), as well as a pair of recent neon sculptures from 2019 Light up My Life (For Sandra Bland) and My Life, My Life, My Life, My Life in the Sunshine that address racial injustice and violence against black women and men in America. Similarly, Mickalene Thomas (b. 1953)'s large-scale painting Resist, 2017, depicts in glitter and vivid color, images from the Civil Rights era, in which women and men fought-often peacefully-for equity and enfranchisement, even decades after the passage of the 19th Amendment.

The final section of the exhibition explores the work of predominantly Generation X and Millennial artists-who are responding to current social and political conditions of citizenship and womanhood through cross-cultural lenses, as first- or second-generation Americans. Of Egyptian heritage, Ghada Amer's (b. 1967) embroidered canvases and text-based works on paper cite feminist statements by Simone de Beauvoir ("One is not born but rather becomes a woman"), as well as by Timothy Leary ("Women who seek to be equal to men lack ambition."). Trans artist Martine Gutierrez's (b. 1989) photographs document her exploration of identity, heritage, gender fluidity, and LGBTQ and Latinx beauty. Filipino-American Stephanie Syjuco (b. 1974) probes philosophic and historic definitions of what it means to be a "citizen" in terms of national belonging, civic engagement, and responsibility in photographs and banners that evoke political rallies, protests, or parades. Mexican-born Aliza Nisenbaum (b. 1977) captures the diversity of America in her powerful painting MOIA's NYC Women's Cabinet, 2016, a group portrait that depicts the fifteen women (including Nisenbaum herself) who participated in the inaugural Immigrant Women Leaders Fellowship program at the New York Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA).

Finally, Jenny Holzer's 2018 VOTE YOUR FUTURE photographic series serves as a call to action to all those who visit the exhibition.

Some Day is Now is part of the New Britain Museum of American Art's 2020/20+ Women@NBMAA initiative-a year of groundbreaking exhibitions dedicated exclusively to the work of women artists, presented by Stanley Black & Decker with additional support provided by Bank of America.

Some Day is Now is made possible by the generosity of the Polly Thayer Starr Charitable Trust.

FEATURED ARTISTS

Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012)

Betye Saar (b. 1926)

Faith Ringgold (b. 1930)

Sister Corita Kent (1918-1986)

Yoko Ono (b. 1933)

Nancy Spero (1926-2009)

Jaune Quick-To-See Smith (b. 1940)

Ana Mendieta (1948-1985)

Barbara Kruger (b. 1945)

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

The Guerrilla Girls (est. 1985)

Martha Rosler (b. 1943)

Annette Lemieux (b. 1957)

Carrie Mae Weems (b. 1953)

Cauleen Smith (b. 1967)

Ghada Amer (b. 1963)

Mickalene Thomas (b. 1971)

Stephanie Syjuco (b. 1974)

Aliza Nisenbaum (b. 1977)

Martine Gutierrez (b. 1989)

PROGRAMMING

Visit NBMAA's website nbmaa.org for programming information.



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