Brooklyn Museum unveils feminist art center
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United States' first major center devoted to feminist art opened on Friday, giving women artists the chance to reach a broader audience and a permanent home to a controversial work often shunned by mainstream exhibitions.
Anchored by Judy Chicago's icon of feminist art "The Dinner Party," the 8,300-square foot (770-square-meter) facility at the Brooklyn Museum is the first of its kind in America, museum officials say.
Chicago's once controversial sculptural installation, which the artist worked on from 1974 to 1979 with the help of hundreds of assistants, culminates in a triangle of 48-foot (14.6-meter) long dinner tables set with 39 dinner plates representing more than 1,000 real and mythical figures of women's history.
The installation shocked some during a decade of touring with its depiction of vaginas, some abstract and others quite literal, on the ceramic plates.
Recalling its having been relegated to what she termed "alternative exhibition spaces," Chicago said the work was "the one everybody wanted to see, and nobody wanted to show."
But she noted that in its new home in New York's largest museum after the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "there are no worries about the roof leaking, or bad light."
Women's rights activist Gloria Steinem, the co-founder of Ms. Magazine, praised the new facility as one that would "spark new connections for woman artists for decades to come."
The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art was named for Brooklyn native Elizabeth Sackler, a writer and historian.
Sackler said the works on display "do not aim to shock, but to offer the pubic an opportunity to study our past, and guide our future," adding that "art can be a power to create change, and to unite our humanity."
Serving as "a societal and political eye-opener," the museum within a museum would add to the feminist mantra of equal rights and equal pay that of "equal wall space," she said.
Among the shows at the museum are the exhibit "Global Feminisms," with work by more than 100 women artists from about 50 countries ranging from Sierra Leone and Afghanistan to China, Russia and Indonesia.
Heavy on sculpture and video installations, the works skew toward younger artists with most aged under 40 and are divided by themes of life cycles, identities, politics and emotions.
Drawing great interest is "Wings Have No Home," by the Italian artist Sissi in which the artist herself sits suspended in a tree in a barbed-wire-like structure above the gallery.
"How does she sit there so long?" wondered one elderly visitor.
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