Since I managed to eek this out of my brain, I may as well share it - my curator's statement for "Femme on Femme":
When visitors walk into an art museum showcasing an encyclopedic selection of artwork from across the centuries and around the world, what are they likely to see? Viewing the works chronologically, they may see reliefs of Nefertiti with her children, numerous works depicting the Madonna, and perhaps such seminal pieces as Johannes Vermeer’s “The Kitchen Maid,” 1660, or Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ “The Valpinçon Bather,” 1808. These are all exquisite artworks of female subjects – depicted by male artists.
Finally, toward the end of the 19th Century, viewers might stumble on work by female artists, perhaps “Tea” by Mary Cassatt, 1880 (although work by Paul Cezanne, Claude Monet and Pierre August Renoir would likely be in greater abundance). Even well into the 20th Century, with a few notable exceptions such as Georgia O’Keefe and Frida Kahlo, female artists are exceedingly under-represented in the history of art.
As the New York-based artist collective Guerrilla Girls asked in 1989: Do women have to be naked to get into the Metropolitan Museum?
In modern society, the exploration of the meaning of “feminism” and “equality” is often boiled down either to clichés (lipstick on a pig, anyone?), or numbers (pay disparities between men and women). Yet in the art world, it is often women themselves digging into this topic, in nuanced and often subtle ways that would be hard to find in mainstream commentary.
“Femme on Femme” provides a snapshot of how seven contemporary Southern California female artists explore, through their work, the female form – for millennia, the purview of male artists – and feminist issues, which is still in relative infancy. Using vastly disparate techniques, these artists provide their personal perspective on the modern woman – often, the examination is of themselves and their own lives, and the supposed roles they fill in this contemporary culture, whether as wife, mother, or single gal.
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Cypress College Art Gallery and its Director, Paul Paiement, for the opportunity to examine this topic. My thanks also go to the artists and galleries for being so generous in loaning their outstanding and intriguing work, and to my husband Eric for perpetually supporting my art habit.
Curator, “Femme on Femme”