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NC Museum of Art to highlight female artists

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New acquisition by the North Carolina Museum of the Art: Harriet Hosmer, Daphne, 1853, marble

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Friday, January 12, 2018

RALEIGH - The North Carolina Museum of Art has launched a new initiative, Matrons of the Arts, which highlights female-identified artists in both the Museum’s permanent collection and around the world.

Matrons of the Arts is a museum-wide, ongoing project that presents programs, exhibitions, and acquisitions by and about women artists.

"Women artists historically have been underrepresented in most museums,” said Museum Director Lawrence J. Wheeler. “As the Museum continues to collect some of the best artists of our time—Mickalene Thomas, Louise Bourgeois, Helen Frankenthaler, Susan Rothenberg, Elizabeth Murray, Alison Saar, and many others—we hope to challenge and change this oversight, beginning at our own institution.”

Matrons of the Arts will add new acquisitions to the museum’s free permanent collection, host programs and events, and spotlight female artists through special exhibitions. The first purchase of the initiative is a bust of Daphne, created in 1853 by artist Harriet Hosmer, known as the first professional female sculptor in America and working at a time when women were often banned from even attending art classes. The bust’s new home is in the American Gallery.

The museum is already home to several works by prominent female artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe’s Cebolla Church, 1945; Portrait of Madame X Dressed for the Matinee, 1878, by the renowned American impressionist Mary Cassatt; Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun’s portrait of Count Shuvalov, 1795–97; Louise Nevelson’s Black Zag CC, 1977; and important African ceramics created by women.

Special programming and events include a free Jan. 28 Women in Art lecture with Bridget Quinn, author of Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (In That Order). She’ll use the late Linda Nochlin’s revolutionary 1971 essay, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists,” as a starting point of discussion. The lecture is sold out, but overflow seating is available.

Traveling and temporary exhibitions will continue to highlight female artists, as seen in current museum exhibitions like photographer Barbara Morgan’s Rhythmic Vitality and multimedia artist Sabine Gruffat’s A Kiss of the Earth video installation, along with weaver and textile artist Andrea Donnelly’s We’ve Met Before, closing Jan. 28. The spring exhibition You Are Here: Light, Color, and Sound Experiences features several female artists, including Soo Sunny Park, Janet Cardiff, Anila Agha, and Durham artist Heather Gordon. The museum will also host Candida Höfer’s architectural photography series from Mexico and an exhibition exploring Georgia O’Keeffe and contemporary art in October 2018.

“We’re aiming to change the connotation of the word in the art world, elevating ‘matron’ to champion and leader. A matron is no longer a passive bystander but a fierce and powerful force,” said Associate Curator of Contemporary Art Jennifer Dasal. “By working together to make women a priority—and to get both women and men excited to do so—we can really bring about wonderful institutional change.”

The museum’s effort joins an international drive to achieve a more diverse representation of female artists in museums around the world.

For more information visit ncartmuseum.org/matrons. Follow the movement at the museum and around the world on social media via #matronsofthearts or contact Marjorie Hodges, director of external relations and special projects, at mhodges@ncartmuseum.org or (919) 664-6860.

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