Can you name five female artists? This question is being proposed by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC, not as a test of artistic knowledge but more importantly as a statement of the blatant gender inequality in the art world. Although the issue has improved in the last 50 years it still manifests as a dark omnipresence over the industry, with statistics collected by the campaigning group UK Feminist indicating that in 2010 83% of artists in Tate Modern, London, were male. By asking this question the museum both highlights this issue and also opens a wide range of discussion all centred around lack of representation of women in the arts. As NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling explains: “It’s a simple question with a not-so-simple answer.”
As an organisation, whose primary aim is celebrating the contributions of female artists around the world, NMWA continues to fight for gender equality through a series of successful social media campaigns. This March, coinciding with women’s history month, using the hashtag, #5WomenArtists, the gallery uses social media to answer the consequential question.
After the success of previous campaigns, NMWA has attracted a massive 150 institutions from 41 states, 16 countries and five continents who will also encourage their audience to discuss and partake in the campaign. Amongst an array of events, there is also a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, in which participants are invited to add to articles in an effort to improve artists’ representation online.
As well as this, the Washington-based museum have partnered with Balboa Park, California, and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, New York, thus extending the movement to a much wider audience. Balboa park will be supporting the cause by allowing photographers free reign over their social media accounts with the purpose of creating a space to encourage and develop female voices in the industry. In addition to this there will be a talk entitled How can makers change the world? with Emily Pilloton and Ann Hamilton.
Can You Name Five Women Artists? Throughout March, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, For more information: www.nmwa.org
1. Shirin Neshat, Sara Khaki (Patriots), from series The Book of Kings, 2012. Ink on LE silver gelatin print, 60 x 45 in.Courtesy of the Artist and GladstoneGallery, New York and Brussels. She Who Tells a Story, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC, 8 April – 31 July 2016.