For years now, in an industry dominated by men, women have found it difficult to be moved or portrayed as anything other than merely a muse for the male gaze. Women for decades have been exhibited by male artists in a fundamentally biased way, manifested in a sexualized aesthetic and/or sexist morals being projected onto photographs and canvases. The good news is this is changing. As more and more female artists are unveiling their exhibitions and curations, we are reminded of a safe space to express femininity and to feel entwined with one another.
With dynamics shifting from the once alarming statistics of “female artists represent just 2 percent of the market,” they as a whole can be viewed as a symbol of courage and resistance to the patriarchy. So every time you pass a poster outside the subway station showcasing a female artist, may you be reminded of what it took to get there.
For Cristina BanBan, depicting the female form and changing the pin-up girl narrative of the perfect aesthetically pleasing body is essential. Her works focus on voluptuous female bodies that allow her to express certain personal records. By combining her love for analyzing different mediums of human interaction, she was able to curate a unique way to “filter those thoughts and to find a way to represent them from a woman’s point of view.” Through this, she could dive deeper into her creative inclinations and showcase 19 different paintings and 16 works on paper for her joint solo exhibition, Del Llanto, at the Albertz Benda Gallery and the 1969 Gallery in Chelsea and Tribeca.
Vibrant and beautiful, BanBan says she is “hopeful” for what the future brings and excited to continue to “canonize big feelings and energy into something tangible” being shown through a women’s perspective. She says that she often finds herself in her paintings, as she processes her own daily fears and emotions and translates that onto her canvases.
“Art-making becomes a political act of service to community.”
Born and raised in Kenya, Boswell focuses on the “radical imaginary of Black feminisms” and seeks to expand on the female body as “world-making” rather than merely as an object to be gazed at.
Boswell’s exhibition Still Life: A Taxonomy of Being at Sapar Contemporary was delicately curated with drawings and watercolors to create an immersive experience that included a video with a soundtrack of breathing. Her objective was set to expand on the process of “how we grieve, how we love, how we rest, how we heal, how we protest, how we remember the past to imagine the future.”
Brooklyn-based artist Dani Orchard, “advances the forms of twentieth-century modernism and the mood of twenty-first-century narratives” in her exhibition, Mothers Magazines at the Jack Hanley Gallery in Tribeca. Orchard spends most of her time in her Greenpoint studio painting various narratives of how women have been taught to consume and often mimic other women’s bodies. The women in her paintings are often portrayed as looking at themselves in the mirror or with their eyes drifting into space in order to escape their present setting. Orchard hopes to raise questions about “the representation of the female body” and create a safe space of relatability between women.
During her first solo show at Fredricks & Freiser, Gribbon curated a painting revealing various female subjects participating in scenes such as wrestling or playing in water. Each artwork is displayed in characteristically forthright, bold, and visual language. Gribbon replaced men with semi-nude women in other pieces as a tribute to ancient Greece while simultaneously questioning traditional gender roles. Gribbon is known for her “fast, impressionistic strokes often abut minutely illustrated details, highlighting the artist’s interest in collapsing numerous pictorial strategies into a single canvas.” By “combining memory, art history, and contemporary life,” she aims to draw her art closer and closer to the heart of the matter through different forms of escapism.
“Now comes the lightening-bolt debut of Jenna Gribbon whose juicy touch and flickering brushwork render women wrestling like great warriors, only lovingly, sexually, and with candid abandon.” – Jerry Saltz
“With the power women have to turn heads, the power we have to do anything” – Laura Kimmel
New York-based multi-media artist Laura Kimmel said it best, that it’s “not about posing or looking like a muse” but “therapy” for women to be able to curate a safe space to “access those raw, primal emotions.” Curator Indira Cesarine of The Untitled Space recently included Kimmel’s piece for her exhibit called The INNOVATE Exhibit, where Kimmel was able to carve out a niche to showcase this rite of passage and “triumphant moments of pure expression.
Using only psychedelic liquid light paint, Kimmel painted on the overhead projector and projected this onto her friend and contortionist, Natasha Phoenix King. She intended to explore her own self-expression and create a space for Natasha to move as she pleased, without boundaries.