In an industry traditionally dominated by male artists, it is refreshing and, in some instances, rare to discover art made by women. Today we are taking a look at sculptural work by contemporary female artists, as sculpture is a medium that is often associated with masculinity. In the past few years, various exhibitions have surfaced that feature solely female sculptors. Exhibitions like these challenge more traditional shows, which often inadvertently exclude female artists, and showcase a wide array of sculptures and sculptors.
Magdalena Sawon, owner and curator of Postmasters in New York, curated the 2014 exhibition This is What Sculpture Looks Like. Sawon says of the show, which featured sixteen contemporary female sculptors:
“We really wanted to talk about the medium, and viewers are free to make the connection that the market that privileges painting over sculpture also privileges male artists over female artists…We tried to go against the gender cliche where Richard Serra makes massive sculptures and women make these cute little things.”
Sawon makes an important observation about the contemporary art market. Not only do artistic tastes of today favor painting over sculptural work, but women artists are often overlooked.
Polly Bielecka, director of Pangolin London, says of the gallery’s 2011 exhibition, Women Make Sculpture:
“It became very apparent that there is an amazing wealth of creativity there from women artists, and it is not being celebrated. This show is about saying, ‘Wake up everyone, why have you forgotten them?'”
Chapman’s Art Collections has been making a conscious effort of our own to include and showcase female artists, in exhibitions, on display, and in our recent acquisitions. We have several outdoor sculptures created by women.
A popular and highly visible piece on campus is Roslyn Mazilli‘s OBID (Oh Boy I’m Dancing), located between on the lawn between Oliphant and Roosevelt Halls. Her aluminum and steel pieces are dynamic and colorful, and this sculpture is no different. Some of our most recent sculpture acquisitions include a collection of pieces by artist Betty Gold. These steel sculptural pieces follow her usual designs of bold, clean lines and geometric definition. Located on and around the Hutton Sports Center, these sculptures are some of the most notable on campus.
It is important to recognize the contributions of female artists to a genre like sculpture, which is typically seen as a masculine form of art. Yet, there are women artists, including Roslyn Mazilli and Betty Gold, who choose to work with heavy, more “macho” materials like steel and aluminum. This is indicative of change in the art world, and how in the past few decades of contemporary sculpture there as been a shift not only towards more female artists but also a shift of attention towards these artists and their contributions. As contemporary female sculptor Polly Morgan says, “It’s about looking at the women making sculpture, because we haven’t seen enough of them.”