Get us to the Brooklyn Museum, stat! More specifically, we want to be there from October 21st through to early 2018 for a 10-part exhibit that is unfolding in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. For every feminist and art-lover, or for those who want to understand a little about feminist history in the United States through the lens of art, this is the exhibition you want to see.
Titled ‘A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism’, these 10 exhibits are also a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center, which was created to “raise awareness of feminism’s cultural contributions, to educate new generations about the meaning of feminist art, and to maintain a dynamic and welcoming learning environment.”
As described by Broadwayworld.com, “A Year of Yes presents a multiplicity of voices from the history of feminism and feminist art while also showcasing contemporary artistic practices and new thought leadership. The project recognizes feminism as a driving force for progressive change and takes the transformative contributions of feminist art during the last half-century as its starting point. A Year of Yes then reimagines the next steps, expanding feminist thinking from its roots in the struggle for gender parity to embrace broader social-justice issues of tolerance, inclusion, and diversity.”
There are names which are more recognizable in the feminist art space such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Marylin Minter, and there is also an awesome recognition to the role women of color have played in the various stages of the feminist movement throughout the decades here in the United States.
In the middle of the scheduled exhibitions is one which may leave some a little confused as to its inclusion. ‘Iggy Pop Life Class’, which will run from November 2016 – March 2017 is a series of 53 drawings of the iconic rocker’s naked body by 22 art students. Catherine J. Morris, Sackler curator, told Ms. Magazine he served a very specific purpose.
“I think most people, [when] you say ‘Iggy Pop,’ imagine this half-naked or naked guy jumping around a stage, screaming and cutting himself or whatever. But this is a case where he is exposing himself in a much more open sort of way as a recumbent figure in a drawing class, where people draw his nude, relaxed, kind of older, not beautiful, necessarily, body. And so that obviously also becomes a dialogue with the history of art because it’s typically a woman who is in that position,” she said.
The series starts out with ‘Beverly Buchanan-Ruins and Rituals’, an exhibit featuring the work of a little known artist whose photographs of life in the South became an important discourse in the 70’s and 80’s. Beverly is also featured in the ‘We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85’ which includes a group of artists who were outspoken about the problems within feminism and how black women didn’t always feel as if they belong. This is an issue we are still seeing played out today, which ‘A Year Of Yes’ hopes to further the conversation with its exhibits.
And it’s not just the individual exhibits which take center stage in this series. The Brooklyn Museum itself is an integral part of the conversation around feminist art, especially in ‘Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern’ and the finale ‘A Feminist Timeline’.
The Brooklyn Museum was instrumental in Georgia’s career as an artist, giving her a solo exhibition in 1927. Georgia is seen as a trailblazer for modern feminist artists and the Museum’s acknowledgement of her important voice is certainly part of that narrative.
The examining of the Museum’s role in the evolution of modern feminist art is an important one, simply due to the fact that the art world is overwhelmingly dominated by men, as we’ve seen in a number of articles we have shared.
“When you do a timeline of an institution, you talk about the directors, you talk about the major donors, you talk about the philanthropists who built the place and they’re typically men in an institution that’s been around as long as this one has, and is built on the model that it was built on, so we’ve gone into the history of the museum and dug around, looking for the stories that make the history of this place more interesting and more human,” said Catherine Morris.
‘The Roots of “The Dinner Party”‘ gives some history to the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center’s permanent installation ‘The Dinner Party’ by Judy Chicago. Over 1000 women are honored in the origin story, and visitors can learn about the work that went into making such a piece.
It seems to be a fitting exhibition series in a time when conversations around the current feminist movement are at an all time high. ‘A Year of Yes’ doesn’t just serve as a space to look back, however, but as a powerful tool of critical thought and analysis of the importance of feminism in everyday culture, and how this can be applied to the future.
“I feel like any time you open up social media, every few months, there’s some sort of flurry of activity around younger people or whoever debating whether feminism is still a pertinent term. And so A Year of Yes is a way of trying to frame [feminism] as a positive thing and as a forward-looking thing, and [is] an acknowledgment of its true presence in our culture, even if simultaneously people do continue to push on it a bit,” said Catherine.
Art has become a much-needed anchor in society when dealing with potentially divisive or political topics like feminism. The museum wants visitors to know their role in contributing to how feminism has changed the world.
“The Brooklyn Museum is uniquely positioned to work from its broad historical holdings to lead vital conversations about how feminism must contribute to the urgent international dialogue about human rights. Art is more than something to stand in awe of and ponder. It tells us about ourselves and our past, and art leads to cultural change,” said Anne Pasternak, the Museum’s Shelby White and Leon Levy Director.
To find out more about ‘A Year Of Yes’, visit the Brooklyn Museum website, and mark the following dates in your calendar.
A Year of Yes Exhibitions
Beverly Buchanan-Ruins and Rituals
October 21, 2016-March 5, 2017
Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty
November 4, 2016-April 2, 2017
Iggy Pop Life Class
November 4, 2016-March 26, 2017
Opening late November 2016
A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt
Opening December 2, 2016
Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern
March 3, 2017-July 23, 2017
Launching late March 2017
We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85
April 21-September 17, 2017
The Roots of “The Dinner Party”
Opening October 20, 2017
A Feminist Timeline
Opening October 20, 2017