For my Women in Art enrichment, I am working with two of my classmates to put together an exhibition. We each chose a topic that interested us and did some research and now are starting the process of coming together and curating our chosen objects. It is super fun to see what everyone has chosen to focus on and I just know it will be fascinating seeing how all of our topics intersect.
The theme that I chose was women in power. I wanted to look at representations of women who held some sort of political power to see if there were any themes that united the way they were presented to society in art. As it turns out, there are so many portraits, sculptures, and other artistic representations of women in power!
Throughout the ones I was looking at, it seemed as though the common themes were beauty and femininity vs masculinity, and how to craft a narrative through art. Throughout most of history (and I would assert even today), women who held positions of power were in stark contradiction with what the expectation for women is. They are supposed to be submissive and beautiful peacemakers, so when they are serving in a role that expects them to be strong and confident figureheads, there’s interesting friction that occurs. When a woman leader leans into her strength and power, does her femininity present itself less often? Do women leaders fit in more when they align themselves with the beauty standards of the time? What happens when a woman exhibits more masculine tendencies in their leadership position — are they seen as more of a leader? Less of a woman? There are so many questions swimming in my head about the way women with positions of political power are represented in art!
Here are the objects I’ve chosen! Are you familiar with any of them? Recognize any powerful women here?
I can’t wait to look into these women further and set up a virtual exhibit with my classmates! I’m really excited for this process to continue. The next steps are to write some object and exhibit labels and figure out how all of our topics of interest fit together! I’ll keep you updated as this process continues. Have a great week!