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Heavy Metal at NMWA

Updated: Jul 21, 2019

Heavy Metal: Contemporary Metalwork by Modern-day Alchemists exhibition.

Stopped into the National Museum of Women in the Arts yesterday to catch the Heavy Metal: Contemporary Metalwork by Modern-day Alchemists exhibition, which features contemporary women artists who are working in metal through a wide variety of objects—everything from sculpture to jewelry to conceptual work.

There were some uniquely beautiful (note Beverly Penn's etherial and delicate cast metal sculptures made from actual plant material in the photo above, bottom right) and bright and colorful pieces (you know how I love lots of color!). Seeing these works got me thinking about how I could shift my art practice to something more sculptural but still on the canvas. . .

Plus, I don't know why, but the word "shapeshifter" (see notes below) is really appealing to me right now.

From the exhibition notes: “Metal is a mutable material. It is a shapeshifter, unyielding in its solid state but endlessly malleable when melted. . . Metal also moves between the traditional, yet fraught, categories of fine art and craft. As the gender biases between these classifications are exposed, small scale works such as jewelry and decorative arts (historically associated with women) are increasingly understood to possess the same depth of concept and merit as traditional fine art objects like large-scale sculptures (in the past, made predominantly by men).”

Description of photos: Top right: Susie Ganch (Appleton, Wisconsin) Untitled, 2007

Bottom right: Beverly Penn (Baltimore, Maryland) Fate Morgan’s, 2014

“Penn casts her bronzes directly from plants that she seeks to memorialize.”

Bottom left: Rana Begum (Sylet, Bangladesh) No. 161, 2008

“Begum’s work reflects on the often-overlooked beauty of our urban environments, which are full of hard edges, right angles, and neon colors.”

Iconic Guerrilla Girls imagery.

Speaking of gender biases. . .

Above photo as seen in the gift shop during my excursion to the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Love that the Guerrilla Girls were speaking their truth. Hate that this is the reality.

Could it be that just maybe, finally, things might be changing? The Advantages of Being A Women Artist: • Working without pressure of success • Not having to be in shows with men • Having an escape from the art world in your 4 freelance jobs • Knowing your career might pick up after you're 80 • Being reassured that whatever kind of art you make it will be labeled feminine • Not being stuck in a tenured teaching position • Seeing your ideas live on in the work of others • Having the opportunity to choose between career and motherhood • Not having to choke on those big cigars or paint in Italian suits • Being included in a revised version of art history • Not having to undergo the embarrassment of being called a genius • Getting your picture in the art magazines wearing a gorilla suit #guerrillagirls

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