NMWA has a knack for mounting shows that are unique, that focus on fresh, innovative themes. The one that first caught my eye among the fall exhibits is Telling Secrets: Codes, Captions and Conundrums in Contemporary Art. Its theme was inspired by the variety of mediums and techniques used by many of today’s artists to convey layered meanings in their work. Collage, symbols, text, marks, and mixed media such as encaustic, oils, ink, and found objects are often combined, worked and reworked, in sophisticated additive and reductive processes that create a sense of depth and mystery. Compelling and intriguing even at first surface glance, the art in this exhibit draws the viewer back again and again as more is revealed.
Alison Saar (see image above left), Leonora Carrington, Jane Hammond, Robin Kahn (see image right), Hung Liu, Shirin Neshat, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and Adriana Varejão are among the 23 featured artists in this show. This is an evocative, culturally diverse presentation that represents a wide range of complex themes. And yet, there is a sense of unity among them. These artists are not only skilled at their craft, they are storytellers, weaving plot and subplot, passion and mystique, with masterful literary genius.
The other two fall exhibits on display through January 10, 2010, are:
Elements of Nature: Equines and Still Lifes by Clarice Smith, featuring 20 paintings that portray the artist’s elegant vision of nature’s abundance rendered in her inimitable classic European style.
Lands of Enchantment: Australian Aboriginal Painting, presenting 26 works by Australian painters who explore aboriginal dreamtime traditions through the use of elaborate symbols and signs that translate and interpret generations of layered meanings. These paintings have never been exhibited publicly before.
For more about the NMWA, its history and mission: http://www.nmwa.org/
THE WOMEN'S MUSEUM ®
1250 New York Ave., NW Washington, DC 20005-3970
Two blocks north of Metro Center
NOTE: There is a wonderful new book, A Museum of Their Own, written by founder Wilhelmina Cole Halladay, that delightfully reviews the conception and history of the NMWA. It’s available in an autographed copy through the museum shop, or at bookstores nationwide.
-- Rosemary Carstens(Above left: Alison Saar, Snake Man, 1994. Woodcut and lithograph on paper, 33 1/2 x 42 1/2 in. – Above right: Robin Kahn, Victoria’s Secret, 1995. Mixed media on canvas, 68 1/8 x 28 1/8 in.)