Women’s Work:  Art & Activism in the 21st Century

Women’s Work presents five global contemporary artists-activists who continue to expand the definition of women’s work and expose its complexity, nuance, and ever-evolving nature.

Featured Artists: Sama Alshaibi, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Miora Rajaonary, Suchitra Mattai, Ming Smith

Curated by: Grace Aneiza Ali

In continuation of a dynamic year of programming for Pen + Brush’s 125th Anniversary, the non-profit is pleased to present Women’s Work: Art & Activism in the 21st Century. This exhibition highlights work by a prolifically international group of five women artists representing Iraq, Cuba, Guyana, Madagascar, and the U.S., curated by NYU’s Assistant Professor of Art & Public Policy and OF NOTE magazine founder, Grace Aneiza Ali.

Women’s Work takes as a point of anti-departure, Oxford Dictionary’s definition of women’s work as “traditionally and historically undertaken by women, especially tasks of a domestic nature such as cooking, needlework, and child rearing.” Despite the last century of groundbreaking, audacious change and catalysts, the dictionary still has not caught up with the current zeitgeist. Neither a dismissal nor a trivializing of this definition, the exhibition is grounded in the belief that all women’s work, within the realm of the domestic and beyond, is valuable. However, it acknowledges that the definition has rightly evolved, and must continue to do so, across centuries and geographies.

Women’s Work presents five global contemporary artists-activists who continue to expand the definition of women’s work and expose its complexity, nuance, and ever-evolving nature. Through dynamic art practices, they generously lend their intelligence, thoughtfulness, artistry and agency to reimagine women’s work as arts activism in the 21st century.

For Sama Alshaibi, that work is to re-visualize the historical and contemporary image of the Middle Eastern woman. For Cuban-born María Magdalena Campos-Pons, women’s work is rooted in the intersections of art and healing. In challenging the dismissal of women’s handmade traditions, Suchitra Mattai works to elevate the artistry of women of the Indian Diaspora. Through her portraiture of Malagasy women, Miora Rajaonary usurps a history of Madagascar rarely written by women. And, for Ming Smith, to bear witness, to document, to show up and be present in lands near and distant, is women’s work.

Collectively, these artists remind us that women’s work is rooted in activism, justice, healing, service, and resistance. Women’s Work is a provocation for us all—to reclaim the term and to make space for its reinventions and future possibilities.

In the publication accompanying Women’s Work: Art & Activism in the 21st Century, five dynamic women scholars who delight in language as much as they do art offer thoughtful commentaries on the many ways these global artists are redefining “women’s work” in the 21st century. Their elegant explorationsin tandem with the stunning images of featured artists as well as curator Grace Aneiza Ali’s rich and expansive essay and Janice Sands’ exquisite rendering of institutional memory in P + B’s 125th anniversary yeardemonstrate the necessity of women’s arts activism as a powerful tool for justice. Each catalogue purchase supports P + B’s mission of promoting gender equity in the arts.

To learn more about this exhibition, read a sample of the accompanying publication Women’s Work: Art & Activism in the 21st Century.

You may purchase a copy of the exhibition catalogue by clicking the “buy now” button.

Women’s Work:  Art & Activism in the 21st Century

April 10 – August 02, 2019

Pen + Brush

29 East 22nd Street, New York, NY
Opening Reception: Wed. April 10th, 6-8pm