One Clover and a Bee. And Reverie.
Why have an exhibition exclusively of women artists?
The better question might be: why not have a show of women artists? Judging from the breadth and depth, the richness and variety, of the work included here, why should it matter that these nine artist happen to be women? The show takes its title from the Emily Dickinson poem, “To Make a Prairie,” and the artists included all draw on that ineffable element – creativity, inspiration, vision, or as Dickinson calls it, revery -- to create artworks in a range of media. The show includes videos ranging from the meditative to the humorous; photo-based work, both figurative and abstract; sculpture and installation work; drawings and collage. The artists -- Mildred Beltré, Anna Friemoth, Mary Louise Geering, Kris Gregory, Asuncion Lozano, Katerina Marcelja, Emilie Stark-Menneg, Paz Perlman, and Maija Tammi -- use materials ranging from breast milk and semen (in Tammi’s photographs) to steel, foam and wild rice (in Geering’s sculptures) to video-based work in which the artist has turned the camera on herself (both Lozano and Stark-Menneg). Some of the work in the show explores issues of gender and feminism head on, other pieces touch on it more indirectly.
In 1976, Georgia O’Keeffe refused to lend one of her paintings to an exhibition in Los Angeles titled Women Artists: 1550 to 1950, because she saw herself as a painter, not a female painter, and the artists in this show likely see themselves in similar terms. But a show of work by women gets also to the heart of the fallacy that there’s a scarcity of good artwork by women. From 2007 to 2014, roughly 80 percent of the solo exhibitions at New York’s Museum of Modern Art were by men, and the Guggenheim’s percentage was similar. There has yet to be a Whitney Biennial in which women and men are equally represented. In 2016, we are not any closer to a post-sexist society than we are to a post-racial one, but One Clover and a Bee presents a selection of work by nine truly inventive artists who also happen to be women.