For thousands of years, women were the subjects of male artists and not fully recognized as artists themselves, but a new exhibit at the Miami University Art Museum tells a different story. Tuesday, Curator Jason Shaiman of the museum unveiled the second part of his exhibit Out of the Shadows: The Rise of Women in Art.
According to Shaiman, the seed for this two-part exhibit was planted in him as an undergraduate student when he realized a lack of female artists being discussed in his classes and textbooks.
“I came to realize that there were very few women represented until you get into the 20th century… I always thought there had to be more,” Shaiman said.
“When I came here and saw the collections that we had, I knew that I finally had the opportunity to pursue the topic.”
Part one of Out of the Shadows focused on the depiction of women in art and began to tell the tale of women as artists. Its galleries focused on landscapes, portraiture and non-representational art. According to Art History Professor Pepper Stetler, the exhibit was a balanced way of looking at both women as artists and subjects by not privileging one over the other and creating different ways to talk about the relationship between women and art.
“The part of the show that was my favorite was the section of self-portraits by Audrey Flack,” Stetler said.
“By playing with the idea of identity, I think the Flack paintings emphasized that women have filled a variety of roles and chosen various identities in the history of art. It makes viewers think about how women are in control of their public identity, playing and manipulating it like Flack does.”
Three galleries and around 200 items make up Part two. The galleries indicate a pointed focus toward women as the artist. Medium rather than subject matter take precedence.
The first gallery entitled The Focal Point of Women utilizes photography to explore women’s influence in art. It includes early portraiture of women from Oxford’s surrounding areas, famous photojournalists like Margaret Bourke-White, and also more recent local photographers.
The second and third galleries, Weaving Women into History and Material Culture of Women, focus on items from all over the globe, diverse time periods and mediums. Vintage dresses made by women in sweatshops from Cincinnati stand next to rugs from Persia. The diverse material culture also includes everything from Native American woven baskets and African woodcarvings to pottery from a former Miami professor. All of these items come together under the Miami Art Museum’s roof to contribute to the narrative of women and art.
Out of the Shadows: The Rise of Women in Art Part II will be open from Jan. 10 to May 12.
The Miami University Art Museum is located at 801 S. Patterson Ave. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
For more information, visit the museum’s website at www.muohio.edu/artmuseum