SAMA ALSHAIBI, MARÍA MAGDALENA CAMPOS-PONS, SUCHITRA MATTAI, MIORA RAJAONARY, AND MING SMITH
FEATURED IN WOMEN’S WORK: ART & ACTIVISM IN THE 21ST CENTURY
AN EXHIBITION FOR PEN + BRUSH’S 125TH ANNIVERSARY
OPENING RECEPTION – WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10TH, 6-8PM
29 E. 22ND ST. NY, NY
(New York, NY – March 19, 2019) In continuation of a dynamic year of programming for Pen + Brush’s 125th Anniversary, the non-profit is pleased to present Women’s Work: Art & Activism in the 21st Century opening April 10th. This exhibition highlights work by a prolifically international group of five women artists representing Iraq, Cuba, Guyana, Madagascar, and the U.S., curated by NYU’s Assistant Professor of Art & Public Policy and OF NOTE magazine founder, Grace Aneiza Ali.
Women’s Work takes as a point of anti-departure, Oxford Dictionary’s definition of women’s work as “traditionally and historically undertaken by women, especially tasks of a domestic nature such as cooking, needlework, and child rearing.” Despite the last century of groundbreaking, audacious change and catalysts, the dictionary still has not caught up with the current zeitgeist. Neither a dismissal nor a trivializing of this definition, the exhibition is grounded in the belief that all women’s work, within the realm of the domestic and beyond, is valuable. However, it acknowledges that the definition has rightly evolved, and must continue to do so, across centuries and geographies.
Women’s Work presents five global contemporary artists-activists who continue to expand the definition of women’s work and expose its complexity, nuance, and ever-evolving nature. Through dynamic art practices, they generously lend their intelligence, thoughtfulness, artistry and agency to reimagine women’s work as arts activism in the 21st century.
For Sama Alshaibi, that work is to re-visualize the historical and contemporary image of the Middle Eastern woman. For Cuban-born María Magdalena Campos-Pons, women’s work is rooted in the intersections of art and healing. In challenging the dismissal of women’s handmade traditions, Suchitra Mattai works to elevate the artistry of women of the Indian Diaspora. Through her portraiture of Malagasy women, Miora Rajaonary usurps a history of Madagascar rarely written by women. And, for Ming Smith, to bear witness, to document, to show up and be present in lands near and distant, is women’s work.
Collectively, these artists remind us that women’s work is rooted in activism, justice, healing, service, and resistance. Women’s Work is a provocation for us all—to reclaim the term and to make space for its reinventions and future possibilities.
María Magdalena Campos-Pons
Grace Aneiza Ali
Catalogue Essay Contributions
Tao Leigh Goffe, Erin Haney, Isabella Ellaheh Hughes, Marisa Lerer, Miriam Romais
Women’s Work is on view April 10 through August 2, 2019
Sama Alshaibi (born in Iraq) explores the body and spaces of conflict in the aftermath of war and exile. Her monograph, Sand Rushes In (New York: Aperture, 2015), presents her Silsila series, which probes the human dimensions of migration, borders, and environmental demise. It was exhibited at the 55th Venice Biennale, Honolulu Biennial, Qalandiya International Biennial, American University Museum, Washington D.C.; SMoCA Arizona; MARTa Herford Museum, Germany; and Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, NY. Alshaibi has been the recipient of an Artpace San Antonio residency, Arizona Commission on the Arts Grant, Arab Fund for Arts & Culture Visual Arts Grant, and a Fulbright Scholar Fellowship to Palestine. She is an 1885 Society Distinguished Scholar (2013) and Professor of Photography, Video and Imaging at the University of Arizona.
María Magdalena Campos-Pons (born in Cuba) gained an international reputation as an exponent of the New Cuban Art movement that arose in opposition to Communist repression on the island before emigrating to Boston in 1991. Her autobiographical work investigates themes of history, memory, gender, and religion and how they inform identity. Campos-Pons has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis; Peabody Essex Museum, Salem; and National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, among others. Her works are in over 30 museum collections including the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She is currently a Professor of Fine Arts at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Suchitra Mattai (born in Guyana) explores how natural environments shape personal narratives, ancestral histories, and the creation of “home.” She received an MFA in drawing and painting and an MA in South Asian Art from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. She has held solo exhibitions at Metropolitan State University of Denver; Center for Visual Art, Denver; K Contemporary, Denver; and grayDUCK Gallery, Austin. Group exhibitions include: Lancaster Museum of Art and History, California; Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle; Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, New York; and a travelling exhibition with Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, D.C. Recently, Mattai completed a residency at RedLine Contemporary Art Center and was nominated for a United States Artists Grant. She is featured in the 2019 Sharjah Biennial.
Miora Rajaonary (born in Madagascar) is a documentary photographer currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her work focuses on social issues and identities in contemporary Africa. In 2018, she was named one of four winners of the inaugural Getty Images ARRAY Grant and won First Prize in the Addis Foto Fest Portfolio Review. Recently, she was a World Press Photo Masterclass East Africa participant, one of the inaugural Women Photograph mentees, and a participant in the inaugural Native and Everyday Projects Mentorship Program. In 2018 she was featured in Britain’s i-D Magazine as one of 10 emerging photographers of color to watch.
Ming Smith (born in U.S.) was the first female member of the influential Harlem-based photography collective Kamoinge Workshop, an association of several generations of black photographers. In 1973, she was the first African-American female photographer whose work was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art where later, in 2010, she was included in their exhibition Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography. Smith has had numerous solo exhibitions: Steven Kasher Gallery, New York; The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; June Kelly Gallery, New York; and the African American Museum, Philadelphia. Her work is included in collections at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York; AT&T Corporation, Bedminster; and the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum & Center for African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.
About Pen + Brush:
Pen + Brush is a 125-year-old publicly supported not-for-profit fighting for gender equity in the arts. P+B provides a platform to showcase the work of female artists and writers to a broader audience with the ultimate goal of effecting real change within the marketplace. We encourage and mentor emerging professionals and aim to expose the stereotypes and misconceptions that perpetuate gender-based exclusion, lack of recognition and the devaluation of skill that is still experienced by women in the arts. All art work is for sale, 75% goes directly to the artist and 25% of every sale comes back in to feed the organization’s work.
About Grace Aneiza Ali
Grace Aneiza Ali is an Assistant Professor and Provost Faculty Fellow in the Department of Art & Public Policy, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU and a Curator and Editor. Ali’s curatorial research practice centers on socially engaged art practices, global contemporary art, and art of the Caribbean Diaspora, with a focus on her homeland Guyana. She is founder and curator of Guyana Modern, an online platform for contemporary arts and culture of Guyana and founder and editorial director of OF NOTE Magazine — an award-winning nonprofit arts journalism initiative reporting on the intersection of art and activism. She is a NYU Provost Faculty Fellow, Andy Warhol Foundation Curatorial Fellow, and Fulbright Scholar. She was named a World Economic Forum ‘Global Shaper’ and serves on the Board of Trustees for Images and Voices of Hope, committed to using journalism to create meaningful, positive change. Ali was born in Guyana and immigrated to the U.S. with her family when she was fourteen years old.