Aldrich marks five decades since historic 1971 feminist show

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RIDGEFIELD – A new exhibition at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art traces feminist art practices over the past five decades and includes artists from the museum’s landmark 1971 exhibition alongside emerging female- and non-female-identified artists binaries born after 1980.

“52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone” celebrates the 51st anniversary of the museum’s exhibit, “Twenty-six Contemporary Women Artists,” and adds 26 emerging artists who — like the original exhibitors — live and work in New York City and have no not had a solo museum exhibition from March 1, 2022.

Alice Aycock, “Clay #2”, 1971 (Photo: Herling/Herling/Werner)

“This group of 26 emerging artists reflects the groundbreaking advancement of feminist art practices over half a century and presents a diversity of experiences and a multiplicity of sensibilities united by a 21st century feminist expression that is inclusive, expansive, elastic and free. ,” senior curator Amy Smith-Stewart said in a statement.

The original exhibition was curated by Lucy Lippard, writer, art critic, activist and curator, who saw curating the exhibition as a militant gesture in the art world. .

“I participated in this exhibition because I knew that there were many women artists whose work was as good or better than what is currently on display, but who, due to the discriminatory policies of most galleries and museums , can rarely get anyone to visit their studios or take them as seriously as their male counterparts,” Lippard wrote in the show’s 1971 catalog.

Smith-Stewart called Lippard’s 1971 exhibition a militant gesture.

“It gave visibility to women artists and reclaimed space in an art world that had excluded and silenced them, and how they had no opportunity to exhibit,” Smith-Stewart explained.

She said the art world of 2022 is global and becoming more inclusive, and the definition of feminist art practices has also evolved.

“What really happened was feminism became ‘feminisms’ and now it’s a mass social justice movement to support and give voice to all marginalized groups,” he said. she stated. “Feminist feminisms and feminist art practices really have a legacy of breaking down hierarchies, binary ways of thinking, heteronormative hetero-patriarchal systems, and especially the canon of art,” Smith-Stewart said.

Included are a number of pieces by artists from the original exhibition as well as selections from their most recent work.

While the first show featured female artists, the 2022 show includes female-identifying and non-binary artists, reflecting the evolution of feminist art practice, she said.

Astrid Terrazas, “Someone will have a bowel movement with your hair falling out”, 2021 (Photo: Stan Narten)

“Bringing the two lists together shows where feminist art practice has been and is heading — and how it has fundamentally imploded much of this binary thinking that marginalized and excluded,” Smith-Stewart said. “That’s why we decided to call the show ’52 Artists’ and not ’52 Female Artists’ because there are artists in the new roster who are non-binary.”

She said the museum had been holding the show since 2017 and had planned to open it in 2021 to celebrate its 50th anniversary, but the pandemic delayed the show for a year.

“This is a major project because it is actually two exhibitions in one. We have what is a tribute, a recreation of an original historical exhibit, and then, a sort of manifesto with young artists,” she said.

Grace Bakst Wapner, “Calving,” 2020 (Photo: Courtesy of the artist)

The exhibition is the first exhibition that has ever covered the entire museum and its grounds since the museum’s inauguration in 2004.

“The original show kind of embodied the feminist struggle, the movement, and 50 years later you see the transformative possibilities of feminism, but the struggle lives on, just in a different way,” Smith-Stewart said. “It would be exciting 50 years from now to put this show back together.”

The exhibition was curated by Smith-Stewart and independent curator Alexandra Schwartz with curatorial assistant Caitlin Monachino.


“52 artists: a feminist stage”
June 6, 2022 to January 8, 2023
The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art
Ridgefield, Connecticut

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