New Exhibit ‘She Inspires’ Features The Work Of 60 Artists & Supports Women Who Run For Office

J’nell Jordan “Levels” Inspired by Nina Simone – SHE INSPIRES Exhibit Artwork, The Untitled Space Gallery, New York – May 2017

The #Resistance comes in many forms, and in our turbulent political landscape, it is on everyone to raise their voice and take a stand in whatever way they can, to push back the tide of hateful, regressive and divisive policies that seek to alienate and marginalize many across the United States.

An art gallery based in New York City, Untitled Space, has not been wasting any time using its position in the art world to send powerful messages about inclusion, intersectionality, feminism and women’s rights. In January, the gallery hosted an exhibit called ‘UPRISE: Angry Women’ which featured the work of 80 female artists who expressed their anger over the country electing such a bigoted, sexist, racist man to be President.

Now the gallery is continuing this theme of feminist resistance through art with their latest exhibit, ‘She Inspires’, which will run from May 2-20. The exhibit features the work of 60 contemporary artists with works revolving around inspirational women, including Michelle Obama, Women’s March organizer and activist Linda Sarsour, and Betty Freidan just to name a few. The collection is curated by gallery owner and artist Indira Cesarine.

INDIRA CESARINE – with painting in progress “Arrested for Equality – An Ode To The Suffragettes” 2017, (Protest Series) to be featured in “She Inspires” Exhibition – The Untitled Space May 2017

 

In light of the progressive and grassroots activism that has been growing since the election, 10% of the proceeds from ‘She Inspires’ will go to non-profit organization She Should Run, who are dedicated to raising up and supporting a generation of female political leaders at a time when we are sorely underrepresented at a federal and state level.

Each work is an ode to a woman or group of women that has shaped our past, present and/or will help form our future. The exhibit aims to not only explore themes of inspiration of present day female role models, but also the legacy of women who have paved the way, and to inspire and empower others with visual art on the subject. We spoke with Indira about the collection of works to get further insight on how she hopes this exhibit will make an impact on those looking for inspiration during the bleak political moments.

Ann Lewis aka GILF! “Linda” Inspired by Linda Sarsour – The Untitled Space – SHE INSPIRES Exhibit – May 2017

 

How did the idea for ‘She Inspires’ come about?

In the past few months we have been faced with back to back protests and turmoil with regards to the current state of affairs in the US.  I felt like it was good timing to take a step back and focus on positive impact and curate an exhibition that embraced inspiration as a tool for change.  I think it is an important time to not lose sight of optimism or hope.  I also felt like an exhibit highlighting inspirational women and their achievements can be very encouraging and a breathe of fresh air.

Typically history books emphasize male history and accomplishments, with a focus on war and politics. Women’s history is often sectioned off into it’s own category of “women’s studies” as if it is not a “real” part of the history of the world. It was not until 1963 that the first college course on women’s history was introduced in the United States, and as feminism continues to gain traction, we are finally shifting our focus to the great accomplishments of many women who have impacted the world.

SHE INSPIRES aims to honor and celebrate these women and tell their stories which should be rightfully included as not just “women’s history” but our history. I think it can be very motivating to see an exhibit reflecting on inspirational women and it can hopefully encourage and empower through example. We saw millions of women come together a few months ago for the Women’s Marches around the world, and I feel like it is important to keep the momentum going.

Lauren Rinaldi “Phenomenal Women” Inspired by Michelle Obama and Maya Angelou, SHE INSPIRES Exhibit Artwork, The Untitled Space Gallery, New York – May 2017

 

Jess De Wahlis “Life is Beautiful That Way” Inspired by Frida Kahlo , SHE INSPIRES Exhibit Artwork, The Untitled Space Gallery, New York – May 2017

 

What was the artist selection process like?

I reviewed hundreds of works of art and have to say learned a lot while curating the show! I wanted SHE INSPIRES to include extremely creative art that could have a strong visual impact and also pique the curiosity of the viewer to learn more about the subjects of the works. I felt it was important to mix up the art in the exhibit with conceptual and metaphorically inspired art, instead of just figurative works that focus on how these women look, but also emphasize their actions, their words, their accomplishments.

There is a lot of diversity in the show, with everything from painting and sculpture to video art and mixed media works that are each unique and very expressive. I think having that level of diversity adds to the exhibit. I also felt it was important to mix up the subjects and their areas of influence with women who have impacted not just politics but also philosophy, art, science, technology, and culture at large.

The art is inspired by everyone from Mae West and Frida Khalo to Michelle Obama, Queen Latifah and Simone de Beauvoir, and there are some really unique pieces that are definitely not what you would expect! I felt it was important for the exhibit artwork to reflect the unique personalities and attributes of the women they are inspired by and for the artists to also draw from their own personal inspiration of these women with their own style.

Linda Friedman Schmidt “A Corsage For Every Girl” Inspired by Mothers – SHE INSPIRES Exhibit Artwork, The Untitled Space Gallery, New York – May 2017

 

Nichole Washington “I Considered Her my Blood and it Don’t Come No Thicker” Inspired by 1990’s female hip-hop artists – SHE INSPIRES Exhibit Artwork, The Untitled Space Gallery, New York – May 2017

 

Indira Cesarine “Simone” Inspired by Simone De Beauvoir – SHE INSPIRES Exhibit Artwork, The Untitled Space Gallery, New York – May 2017

 

Some of the proceeds from exhibit support of ‘She Should Run’, which is a timely collaboration given our political landscape in the US. How do you hope the messages seen through the artists’ work will encourage audiences to get involved in politics?

I think that it is impossible to ignore the impact that the presidential election had on many women. Right now it is crucial for more women to feel encouraged to voice their opinions and to run for public office, on whatever level they can. It is imperative that we focus on the future and encourage and empower women to consider politics as an option, and the importance of women having a strong voice on the political landscape.

What I love about She Should Run is their mission to empower more women to have the confidence to run for office. I think that is one of the biggest issues, that a lot of women don’t feel they have the tools or the courage to handle it, but with support from non-profits like She Should Run, it will hopefully become a more common reality in the future.

With regards to the artwork in SHE INSPIRES, I think it can be very encouraging and empowering to get inspired by artwork that tells the stories of inspirational women who have paved the way for us, women who defied all odds with their accomplishments. Each work is inspired by a different woman or group of women who have made a positive impact on our culture, and when you see the work together it is a very powerful message. I think it can be very motivating to see an exhibit highlighting these women and it can hopefully encourage and empower through example. I was very impressed by how creatively inspired all the artists were by the theme.

Danielle Siegelbaum “Colette” Inspired by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette – The Untitled Space – SHE INSPIRES Exhibit – May 2017

 

Rebecca Leveille “State of Grace” Inspired by Michelle Obama – SHE INSPIRES Exhibit Artwork, The Untitled Space Gallery, New York – May 2017

 

Like the political world, women are often underrepresented in the art world. Galleries like yours are very adamant about promoting female artists and messages about feminism. Do you think it will take more spaces like Untitled to change the gender balance?

Fortunately we are seeing more diversity than ever in the art world right now, and female artists are gaining momentum as museums and collectors take a stronger interest in their works. For thousands of years the art world has been extremely male dominated and most museum collections have over 90% works by male artists. Now that female artists are getting more attention and feminist art is more in demand I think we will start to see the gender gap in the art world balance out more.

The Brooklyn Museum has a great curatorial focusing on feminist art and hopefully we will see more galleries and museums highlighting feminist artists in the future. I’m looking forward to doing more exhibits on feminist themes at The Untitled Space, and also happy to say we have included quite a few male artists in the SHE INSPIRES exhibit who are supportive of feminism.

Michael Hubbard “Bell Hooks” Inspired by Bell Hooks – SHE INSPIRES Exhibit Artwork, The Untitled Space Gallery, New York – May 2017

 

Daryl Daniels “Returned Soul” Inspired by Alicia Keys – The Untitled Space – SHE INSPIRES Exhibit – May 2017

 

How can art be a catalyst for change in the #resistance movement today?

I think it’s crucial to keep the momentum going. Now that a few months have passed since the election, a lot of people don’t want to think about politics anymore. I think the issues are still the same though, and just because you may have gone to one or two protests or watched the Women’s March on TV doesn’t mean that the situation has changed or improved.  I think art can definitely be a powerful way to express the sentiments of how people are feeling and also get a message across.  Right now I think it is an important time to focus on the future.  Art can inspire and empower, and hopefully exhibits like SHE INSPIRES can have a positive impact!

Cabell Molina “Wonder Women” Inspired by Wonder Woman – The Untitled Space – SHE INSPIRES Exhibit – May 2017

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