The Cincinnati Art Museum Celebrates the 19th Amendment’s Centennial with Women Breaking Boundaries

The new exhibition joins ArtsWave in the citywide Power of Her initiative.
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Maria van Oosterwijck (1630–1693), The Netherlands, Flower Still Life, 1669, oil on canvas, Cincinnati Art Museum; Bequest of Mrs. L.W. Scott Alter, 1988.150

In anticipation of the 19th Amendment’s 100th anniversary in 2020, the Cincinnati Art Museum opens a new exhibit, Women Breaking Boundaries, to celebrate women. It’s part of an 18-month, citywide initiative led by ArtsWave. Called Power of Her, it launched in June to spotlight women in arts and female arts leaders across Cincinnati.

“We’ve all read the statistics about how women are paid less and work more, and that unfortunately rings true in the arts as well,” says Ainsley M. Cameron, who curated Women Breaking Boundaries. “In museums, artists who identify as female are underrepresented in permanent collections [and] are featured far less frequently on exhibition schedules than their male counterparts. This exhibition is an opportunity for the Cincinnati Art Museum to be transparent about that imbalance and to create space for change.”

Cameron says she designed the layout for the 38-piece exhibition, free to the public and on view from October 11 to April 12, in pairings that juxtapose contemporary pieces with historic works dating all the way back to the 17th century. “There are artists who critique portrayals of women in the media and popular culture, who change the way women present themselves in the public sphere, and who explore sexuality and the nude human form,” Cameron says.

The exhibit combines newly acquired works, such as Shahzia Sikander’s A Slight and Pleasing Dislocation and Amanda Curreri’s participatory project Women’s Suffrage Mobile Garment Rack, with pieces by celebrated artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker, and Mary Cassatt from CAM’s permanent collection.

“Lorna Simpson’s Wigs is my favorite piece in the show,” Cameron says. “Many of the works in the show aim to confront imbalances of power based in gender, social, and racial politics, and many—indeed most—disrupt male-dominated spaces.”

The exhibit also ushers in a series of events, including a panel discussion, Family First Saturday, and a female-fronted film series.

The museum will continue to focus its permanent gallery rotations on female artists throughout the Power of Her, which Kathy DeBrosse, vice president of marketing and engagement for ArtsWave, says has been “inspired by the many cultural and civic organizations founded by women.”

Ranging from Cincinnati Ballet to Cincinnati Museum Center, local arts organizations continue to add to the city’s—and quite possibly one of the country’s—largest women-lead arts initiative. “It’s going to continue to snowball,” DeBrosse says. “It’s been set that way and I think the DNA of Cincinnati is set that way.”

The Power of Her rollout will also include the publication of a book that features more than 100 women who have shaped Cincinnati’s arts as well as a voting registration initiative, hosted by ArtWorks, leading up to the 2020 presidential election.

See the full calendar of Power of Her events at the ArtsWave website.

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