RECENT BLOG POSTS
Celebrating Women in the Arts | Fri. Mar. 31, 2017
Throughout the month of March, the Halsey Institute celebrated Women’s History Month by participating in the #5womenartists campaign developed by the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.
Last year, NMWA developed the social media campaign to highlight the gender inequality in the arts by challenging people to name 5 women artists on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. This year, they had 500 organizations from more than 25 countries participate! The Halsey Institute was the only participating institution in Charleston, SC. The Halsey spent the last month highlighting women artists from past exhibitions, including Renee Stout, Jiha Moon, Aldwyth, Leslie Wayne, Alyson Shotz, and Lesley Dill. We also held a discussion, part of our Halsey Talks series titled Halsey Talks: 5 Women Artists, which explored what it means to be a woman working in the arts today. 5 women artists from South Carolina participated in this discussion, including Michaela Pilar Brown, Arianne King Comer, Donna Cooper Hurt, Camela Guevara, and Kristi Ryba. A video of this talk can be found here.
Can you name 5 women artists? Here are the artists we named:
Mark Sloan, Director & Chief Curator:
Tatjana Beylotte, Director of Development:
Bryan Granger, Manager of Exhibitions and Public Programs:
Lynn Hershman Leeson
Katie McCampbell, Manager of Traveling Exhibitions and Special Projects:
Kaylee Lass, Assistant to the Director:
Elizabeth O’Neill Verner
Maya McGauley, Education & Outreach Coordinator:
Katie Lesser, Archivist:
Jonathan Rypkema, Preparator:
We look forward to featuring more artists by participating in the #5womenartists challenge next year! Until then, check out our exhibition archive or take a look at our publications featuring women artists.
By Maya McGauley
Education and Outreach Coordinator
The Guerilla Girls: The Conscience of the Art World | Tue. Mar. 21, 2017
You cannot observe Women’s History month without talking about women in the arts and you cannot talk about women in the arts without mentioning the Guerrilla Girls. They are the Gloria Steinem and the Betty Friedan of feminist art history. They are the pioneering ladies at the forefront fighting to bring awareness to a cause that is and has been so overlooked throughout much of history. They are radical feminists, artists, and archivists trying to change the art world through their work. The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and the College of Charleston have been fortunate enough to host this group of incredible activists twice over the last two decades. This month marks twenty years since the Guerrilla Girls were first invited to speak at the College.
The Guerrilla Girls launched their group in 1985 in response to an exhibition that took place the prior year at the Museum of Modern Art called An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture. While looking at the roster they found something significantly wrong with it. With a list of over 160 artists, only 13 of those listed were women. From this they birthed a whole media campaign targeted towards museums, dealers, curators, critics, and artists they felt were responsible the exclusion of women and people of color within the art world. They responded by spreading their message via posters and public advertising. One of their best known and celebrated posters is Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum? (1989), which was a direct response to the exhibit held at MoMA.
Guerrilla Girls, Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?, color offset lithograph on illustration board,1989
Drawing from female artists like Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger, the Guerrilla Girls adapted and appropriated the visual language of advertising to convey their message. They pasted their posters throughout New York City and even on the sides of city buses for some time. As they recounted in Whitney Chadwick’s 1995 book Confessions of the Guerrilla Girls, “…we then rented advertising space on NYC buses and ran it ourselves, until the bus company cancelled our lease, saying that the image … was too suggestive and that the figure appeared to have more than a fan in her hand.” Their work presents facts, statistics, and lists that show the vast disparities between male and female artists in the art world. Their goal is to reveal how we experience the arts in institutionalsettings,forcing us to consider who holds power in the art world. By spreading this message via posters and through other means of media, the Guerrila Girles make this knowledge accessible and unavoidable.
A characteristic feature of the Guerrilla Girls are the masks that they wear to hide their identities. They took their guerrilla movement to the next level by disguising themselves with gorilla masks. As stated on their website, “Our anonymity keeps the focus on the issues and away from who we might be.” They have also chosen to not reveal their real names but instead go by pseudonyms adopted from famous female artists and writers. The group member’s pseudonyms include Frida Kahlo, Alma Thomas, and Hannah Hoch, for example.
Fast forward twenty years ago this month, the Guerrilla Girls were invited to give a lecture sponsored what then was know as the Halsey Gallery and were also the jurors for the 1997 Young Contemporaries show. The name of their lecture was “Guerrilla Girls: The Conscience of the Art World.” Their lecture took place at the Robinson Theatre which is housed in the Simons Center for the Arts at the College of Charleston. I was interested to see if they stuck to their beliefs while going through the jury process for Young Contemporaries and the Salon des Refusés exhibition. While looking at the list of those accepted into the exhibition for that year, I found that of the 116 student artists selected, 77 of those were women while only 39 of those were men, proving they did in fact selected more females to show their art.
Event flyer for “Guerrilla Girls: The Conscience of the Art World”, March 21, 1997
The group has grown since its establishment and they have gone on to have their own exhibitions at museums such as the Tate in London, England and Centre Pompidou in Paris, France. While their original focus was on the gender biases and sexism within the art world, they have grown in scope of issues they seek to bring attention to. They have been working for decades to expose sexism and racial inequality in all realms of the arts and one thing is for certain – they cannot be silenced.
by Kate Lesser
Common Threads between EXIT/ALIVE: The Art of Anthony Dominguez and Ronald Ramsey: Ahead of the Wrecking Ball | Sat. Mar. 4, 2017
When first viewing EXIT/ALIVE: The Art of Anthony Dominguez and Ronald Ramsey: Ahead of the Wrecking Ball, I immediately saw a profound connection between these two exhibitions. The work of both artists is deeply centered around the city in which they reside: for Dominguez, it was New York City, and for Ramsey, it is our beloved Charleston. The works fill their respective galleries with a certain spirit, one that resonates with the essence of being in each one of these places. This amazing ability is the result of the artists’ adoption of their cities as active rather than passive participants in their lives.
For Anthony Dominguez, New York City was like a mother to him. After making the profound decision to give up all his possessions and live on the streets of New York City, intentionally homeless, he found that the city always took care of him. If he needed clothes, she gave him a denim jacket; if he needed food, she gave him cookies. She provided him a place to work, spots to hang his work, and supplies of all kinds including black fabric from the garment district and bleach from the clean needle program. Homelessness brought him closer to the city and transformed this location into a maternal figure, one which he somewhat lacked in his upbringing. Furthermore, she always served as a source of inspiration, with new subject matter around every corner. In Kindness Cruelty Continuum, a block party is depicted with an elevator which guides the figure throughout the scene — a classic New York scene created in a tunnel between 14th Street and Irving Place. The subject matter can often be easily connected to New York City, but the style reveals an even deeper relationship. Dominguez’s work never leaves the eye restless, urging you to bounce from one detail to another. The pieces are full of chaos and intrigue, are somewhat intimidating but undoubtedly lovable, just like the city that nurtured him.
Ronald Ramsey, unlike Dominguez, takes the protectorate role: stating that he is “watching the city like a mother hen.” Rather than relying on her love, he seeks to guard her and her history. As a dedicated preservationist and lifelong Charlestonian, the love he has for her exudes in every conversation. He roams the streets, studying historic buildings and keeping an eye out for any which are bound for destruction, liberating any artifacts he finds fascinating and recording their facades in their full glory. By restoring past images of buildings in his drawings and collecting pieces of their past, he saves their memory and creates a view of Charleston which grows increasingly more precious as future developments alter the city’s landscape. Among his extremely detailed works we can remember Charleston as it once was and remember the amount of culture in every precious cobblestone. We are convinced to protect her character and rich history through an extremely compelling visual argument.
Dominguez and Ramsey’s work do not share much in terms of medium and style. One is graphic and death-centric while the other is objective and architecturally-focused, on the surface there is nothing to be seen in common. However, their transportive qualities which take you to another time and place unite them as cohesive bodies of works. They both have the ability to transport you to the center of a bustling city where you can recreate the side streets and busy pedestrians in your mind. This ephemeral quality is attained purely through Dominguez’s and Ramsey’s deep love for their homes.
by Celeste Caldwell, Halsey intern