Contemporary culture has never been more eager than it is today to right the inequities heaped on women artists by the course of history. Private and public exhibition spaces alike are mounting all-women shows where previously not a single work of art by a woman would have hung. The work of the ten artists in Certain Women is brought together not so much by an extension of that impulse but rather by a deliberate usurpation of its nearsighted mission. In curating a show of these artists, all of whom are women, the focus turns instead from an expression of gender homogeneity toward a breathtaking emotional and formalistic diversity.
Bodies, flora and fauna, the brushstroke, tears of sadness and joy—these are the universalities conjured by the ten artists whose work is on view. Theirs is a kaleidoscope of humanity’s most fundamental interactions with the world around us and the worlds we imagine. Here the uncertainty of a text obscured mirrors the hesitation at the threshold of an unfamiliar landscape. An expression of doubt on a woman’s face challenges the jubilance of bright light in the reflection and refraction of color. And the appearance of wax on a flower petal sings in harmony with the curved lines of abstraction. The feminine mystique is simultaneously at work and at eternal rest.
And so the show’s title, Certain Women, rings all the more true. Its ambiguous identification of the ten participating artists suggests a deliberate process of selection and curation. This is not a show of work by all women for all women. It is rather a soaring attempt to capture the vast range of lived experience, each work presenting as a system of the artist’s own such attempt. Two- and three-dimensional space is employed to similar ends, and an invitation to the viewer into that space is not without cultural and political significance. But despite the implications of an all-woman exhibition, the import of this work is not in the sex of its creators. As the saying goes: come for the drinks, stay for the show.
– Christopher R. Scott