By capturing this history, the exhibition hopes not only to revise the feminist canon, but also to fill in the backstory behind feminist and civil rights movements today. And it does not shy away from institutional critique—an article on display recounts an open hearing of women artists held at the Brooklyn Museum in 1971 and titled, “Are Museums Relevant to Women?” Nor does it try to overshadow the individual stories and perspectives of the artists it includes.
“One of the most important things that feminist art history has brought to the world is significant contributions to this idea of revisionism, of revising history, rewriting history, and writing people back into history,” says the exhibition’s co-curator Catherine Morris, senior curator of the Sackler Center for Feminist Art.
Including a show about black women within “A Year of Yes” emphasizes the dangers of a single narrative and the importance of engaging in more nuanced discussions about racial and gender inequality. “In order to effectively envision our future, we need to be able to talk honestly about our past,” Anne Pasternak, the museum’s first woman director, notes in the catalogue.
This transparent and self-critical approach shaped the way that the institution brought the exhibition together. A year and a half ago, in the early stages of its preparation, the museum invited a group of artists—who would eventually be featured in the show—to have a discussion with curators about the exhibition.