On the Basis of Art: 150 Years of Women at Yale celebrates the vital contributions of generations of Yale women artists to the national and international art scene. Through an exploration of their work, the exhibition charts the history of women trained at the Yale School of Art (formerly Yale School of the Fine Arts) and traces the ways in which they challenged boundaries of time and circumstance and forged avenues of opportunity—attaining gallery and museum representation, developing relationships with dedicated collectors, and securing professorships and teaching posts in a male-dominated art world.
On view at the Yale University Art Gallery from September 10, 2021, through January 9, 2022, the exhibition commemorates two recent milestones: the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Yale College and the 150th anniversary of Yale University’s admittance of its first female students who, flaunting historical precedent, were welcomed to study at the School of the Fine Arts upon its opening in 1869.
On the Basis of Art showcases more than 75 Yale women artists working in a broad range of media, including painting, sculpture, drawing, print, photography, textile, and video. Objects are drawn exclusively from the Gallery’s collection and span more than 15 decades as well as a wide range of stylistic approaches—from realism to abstraction to figuration—revealing how these modern and contemporary women artists have brought their life experiences and individual styles to their careers.
“It is inspiring to highlight the extraordinary and varied work of these talented female- identifying artists,” Elisabeth Hodermarsky, the Sutphin Family Curator of Prints and Drawings, and one of the exhibitions co-curators said. “Although this diverse group of artists spans multiple generations, there are cross-connections in their work that engage history, feminist movements, and legacies of influence. The exhibition is the first of its kind, telling the history of the visual arts at Yale from a female perspective.”
Accordingly, the Yale women artists exhibition is organized into six thematic sections that mix time periods and media, allowing visitors to observe these dialogues across generations.
“Sculpting Space and Place” features two- and three-dimensional objects by Eva Hesse (b.f.a. 1959), Sylvia Plimack Mangold (B.f.a. 1961), Howardena Pindell (m.f.a. 1967), and others whose oeuvres consider space, perception, surface, and depth.
“Threading Myth, Legend, and Ritual” highlights artists such as Rina Banerjee (m.f.a. 1995) and Natalie Frank (b.a. 2002), who engage tradition and storytelling in their practice.
With works by artists like Lois Conner (m.f.a. 1981) and Victoria Sambunaris (m.f.a. 1999), “Modeling Nature, Tracing the Human Footprint” presents the different ways in which artists have depicted the natural world and have examined humankind’s relationship with nature—as both nurturer/steward and user/abuser.
“Drawing Identity” reveals how artists, such as Wangechi Mutu (m.f.a. 2000), Mickalene Thomas (m.f.a. 2002), and Angela Strassheim (m.f.a. 2003), have challenged societal labels and offered thoughtful and powerful critiques of cultural systems.
Finally, “Casting History, Etching Memory” explores how Maya Lin (b.a. 1981, m.arch. 1986), An-My Lê (m.f.a. 1993), Mary Reid Kelley (M.f.a. 2009), and others have memorialized or reflected on our past.
For detailed information on the Yale women artists catalogue, visit artgallery.yale.edu/publication/basis-art-150-years-women-yale.
The exhibition is presented in conjunction with the campus-wide celebration for 50WomenAtYale150.
Yale University Art Gallery
Founded in 1832, the Yale University Art Gallery is the oldest college art museum in America.
Today, it is a center for teaching, learning, and scholarship and a preeminent cultural asset for Yale University, the wider academic community, and the public. The museum collects, preserves, studies, and presents art in all media, from all regions of the globe and across time, with a collection numbering nearly 300,000 objects.
The Yale University Art Gallery is located at 1111 Chapel Street, New Haven, Connecticut. For information, please call 203.432.0600 or visit the website at artgallery.yale.edu.Mickalene ThomasWangechi Mutu