Diem Chau (Vietnamese, b. 1979); Boy and Girl, 2009; carved crayons and wood base. Museum purchase, Kathryn Hurd Fund. Courtesy of the artist. (M.2009.6)

This Girl Bends: Art and Feminism Since 1960

June 26, 2010 - December 12, 2010

The Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) is pleased to present This Girl Bends: Art and Feminism Since 1960, an exhibition that explores the connections between art and feminism since 1960 with over twenty artworks from the museum’s permanent collection. On Tuesday, July 13 at 2:00 pm, exhibition curator Rebecca Shaykin will give a gallery talk highlighting the exhibition. This is a free program and all are invited to attend.

This Girl Bends: Art and Feminism Since 1960 is not a chronological survey of feminist art. As critic Lucy Lippard has pointed out, “Feminist art is neither a style nor a movement.” Rather, this exhibition opens up dialogues across generations of artists that explore feminist concerns surrounding the body, especially those that address gender, race, and sexual identity. This exhibition takes as its starting date 1960 – a time when the modern women’s liberation movement began in America. Although the movement was first a way for women to fight gender inequity, feminism’s goals have since expanded to include both men and women in the fight for equality, regardless of personal identity.

Among the artists included in this exhibition are Lynda Benglis, Carolee Schneemann, and Nancy Spero, pioneering women of the first generation of feminist artists. Other artists represented, women and men included, may not consider themselves or their work feminist. All the works on view, however, invite viewers to think critically about how diverse bodies and identities are represented in art. Certain themes—youth and ancient goddesses, words and gestures, private and public images—crop up again and again in these artists’ work. A short list of artists includes Vito Acconci, Patty Chang, Lalla A. Essaydi, Ed Kienholz, Glenn Ligon, Ana Mendieta, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Kiki Smith.

“It’s an exciting experience to see such powerful objects from the museum’s permanent collection on view together,” notes exhibition curator Rebecca Shaykin. “This exhibition is not just about what barriers women artists have broken through in a male-dominated profession over the past fifty years, but how many different artists have been working to expand or ‘bend’ the definition of feminism and feminist art.”

This Girl Bends takes its name from Kerry Stewart’s sculpture, a recent gift from Patricia and Frank Kolodny, on view for the first time at the museum. This exhibition was organized by Rebecca Shaykin, Curatorial Assistant, M.A., Class of 2009.

Photos available upon request.