Dismal Museum Stats Lead Women Artists to Undertake Ambitious Initative
Commencing in 2017, American Women Artists in launching a 25-year initiative to bring the work of women artists into American museums. Their goal is 25 in 25; 25 museum shows in the next 25 years.
“Over half of the working artists in this country are women,” noted AWA Board President Kathrine Lemke Waste, citing statistics from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, “yet their art is absent from the walls of our museums. Work by women artists makes up only 5% of the permanent holdiings of art museums in America. Our vision, creativity, and imagination is virtually absent from the cultural record.”
The organization hired former gallery owner Robin Knowlton as executive director in 2016 to help spearhead the initiative. She said AWA is hitting the ground running this year with five museum shows already scheduled thorugh 2020.
“The national scope of our 25 in 25 campaign begins this fall with a juried show at the Tucson Desert Art Museum,” Knowlton said. “The hope is that we can raise enough donations at each museum show to support a purchase award, guaranteeing the addition of a painting or scultpure, by a woman, in our host museum’s permanent collection.”
AWA’s resolute leaders have also arranged exhibtions at the Rockwell Museum (Corning, New York) and the Haggin Museum (Stockton, California) in 2018, the Steamboat Art Museum (Steamboat Springs, Colorado) in 2019, and in 2020, the Booth Western Art Museum (Cartersville, Gerogia).
“It is not acceptable,” said Waste, “that in today’s world work by women artists is represented in only 25 – 28% of the traveling shows mounted by museums, and much of this is in group shows. Women artists are rarely featured in solo museum shows. AWA is the only arts organization with a mission to change these statistics by bringing the work of women artists into museums on an annual basis. We want curators and the public to see what they’re missing.”
American Women Artists, an independent, tax-exempt non-profit organization, celebrated its inaugural exhibit in 1990 at the Tucson Museum of Art. The organization has worked diligently on behalf of women artists, offeirng juried gallery and museum shows, symposiums, workshops, and an international exchange. 25 in 25 contiues this mission. AWA serves more than 700 members throughout the United States, along with a growing contingent of artists from Canada.
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