New York exhibitions 2015. MAD FOREGROUNDS WOMEN’S CONTRIBUTION TO POSTWAR VISUAL CULTURE AND EXPLORES THEIR LEGACY IN UPCOMING EXHIBITION.
Forty-two artists, including Ruth Asawa, Anni Albers, Edith Heath, Sheila Hicks, Dorothy Liebes, Lenore Tawney, Margaret Tafoya, Eva Zeisel, Polly Apfelbaum, Vivian Beer, Front Design, Michelle Grabner, Magdalene Odundo, and Hella Jongerius.
From April 28 to September 27, 2015, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) presents Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today, an exhibition that considers the notable contributions of women to modernism in postwar visual culture. In the 1950s and 60s, an era when painting, sculpture, and architecture were dominated by men, women had extensive impact in alternative materials such as textiles, ceramics, and metals. Largely unexamined in major art historical surveys, either due to their gender or choice of materials, these pioneering women achieved success and international recognition, establishing a model of professional identity for future generations.
Featuring more than 100 works, Pathmakers focuses on a core cadre of women—including Ruth Asawa, Edith Heath, Sheila Hicks, Karen Karnes, Dorothy Liebes, Alice Kagawa Parrott, Toshiko Takaezu, Lenore Tawney, and Eva Zeisel—who were influential as designers, artists, and teachers, using materials such as clay, fiber, and metals in innovative ways. Significantly, the group came to maturity along with the Museum of Arts and Design itself, which was founded in 1956 as the center of the emerging American modern craft movement.
“Pathmakers places women at the center of the midcentury modernist narrative, and makes a powerful case for the importance of craft and design media as professional pathways,” stated Glenn Adamson, MAD’s Nanette L. Laitman Director. “Founded by a woman and with half of its collection representing works by female artists, MAD continues to champion the inclusion of women in the narrative of art and design history, along with other groups that have traditionally been marginalized.”
The exhibition also highlights contributions of European émigrés, including Anni Albers and Maija Grotell, who brought with them a conviction that craft could serve as a pathway to modernist innovation. Parallels between women creating work in Scandinavia and the United States are emphasized by the inclusion of important Scandinavian designers such as Rut Bryk, Vuokko Nurmesniemi and Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe.
“We aim to expand the historical view of the postwar period, to showcase important artists and designers, and to introduce names that have been overlooked,” said exhibition curator Jennifer Scanlan.
The legacy of the midcentury women is conveyed through a section of the exhibition that presents works by contemporary female artists and designers that reflect and expand upon the work of the earlier generation. International and US-based artists and designers featured in this section include Polly Apfelbaum, Vivian Beer, Front Design, Christine McHorse, Michelle Grabner, Hella Jongerius, Gabriel A. Maher, Magdalene Odundo, and Anne Wilson.