“Unfinished Business”

December 2, 2023 - May 26, 2024

Wright, Corridor, and Blue Room Galleries (Griswold House)

This exhibition features important works of art from the Museum’s collection by people who identify as women. Over the past several years, the Newport Art Museum has endeavored to increase representation of women in its permanent collection. Whereas women artists once comprised less than half of the contemporary collection, they now represent seventy-percent. These works were acquired to support the Museum’s mission, which is “to share a diversity of art and experiences that spark reflection, inspiration, discovery, and connections within our Newport community and beyond.”

It is also true that female-identifying artists have faced unique obstacles in the art world. Art historian Linda Nochlin once asked, “Why have there been no great women artists?” Using that question as the title for her seminal 1971 essay, Nochlin examined the institutional forces and misconceptions that prohibited women from earning recognition as “great artists,” such as lack of access to arts education and criticisms that touted male artistic genius. Nochlin is just one of the many art historians who have examined and critiqued the art historical canon and promoted the work of women artists.

Although written over fifty years ago, Nochlin’s work of feminist art criticism still holds true. Moreover, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and working-class women artists deal with the additional challenges of systemic racism and discrimination. Hillary Clinton once famously said that “ . . . the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century.” This quotation applies to the art world as well. Showcasing women artists from the Museum’s collection, this exhibition attempts to work on that “unfinished business.” At the same time, the Museum’s collection is a work in progress. The Museum has the unfinished business of representing more BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, working class, and neurodiverse voices in the collection.

The artists in this exhibition explore many important themes, such as climate change, women’s rights, colonialism, heritage, oppression, conflict, language, art history, the body, surveillance, and racial, gender, religious, and ethnic identity among others.

Featured artists include: Lisa Barthelson, Lindsey Beal, Donnamaria Bruton, Mary Dondero, Minoo Emami, Jemison Faust, Donna Ferrato, Sally Gall, Judy Gelles, Mags Harries, Nancy Grace Horton, Pouran Jinchi, Corita Kent, Florence Leif, Rania Matar, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Lindsay Morris, Louise Nevelson, Lissa Rivera, Camille Seaman, Meredith Stern, May Stevens, Nafis M. White, Claudia Widdiss, and Toots Zynsky. 

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