Recurring Exhibits at Downing-Gross
A Space Of Her Own
A Space of Her Own is an effort to bring to the forefront the need for women’s representation in art and society. The relevance of women’s contributions to history should be undisputed, but their narratives as told by women themselves are largely absent from our societal fabric. The purpose of this initiative is to create more collaborative artistic spaces that are accessible to everyone, especially women, while in turn acting as homage to women artists from previous generations.
Each artist listed on this site has chosen a trailblazing female artist of a previous generation to act as their muse for a new piece that they have created. They will present their muse in a multi-sensory artist reception at the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center, Newport News, VA.
The very first exhibit was displayed on January 6-27, 2018. It will continue to be an ever-expanding annual art exhibit.
Art as it relates to women has always been political - although it is presented and discussed as part of a cultural and aesthetic narrative. Historically, the female artist has been removed from the centers of power and therefore excluded from the conversations regarding what constitutes “great art.” Male artists have received the lion’s share of acclaim, visibility and recognition by prominent and prestigious art institutions. The international business of art is a male dominated social and economic environment. Women artists’ struggle for equality in the art world mirrors their struggle for social, economic and political power in all arenas.
The women who made their mark in the history of art were mavericks, unafraid of living unconventional lives. They had the courage to challenge and confront the patriarchal structure of society. This opportunity was very seldom a practical option for the average woman with artistic talent or ambition. Women who achieved some visibility; some success in the art world were often financially independent. Such privilege and freedom was and is far from common for women of any period in history.
Virginia Woolf, the great 19th century female/feminist writer proclaimed that every woman needs a “room of her own” - a place or a space to retreat undistracted by the demands of domestic and familial life. The concept of physical space is a metaphor for creative mental and emotional space. A woman with a “room” of her own has self-agency and freedom to contemplate, create and dream at least within the confines of that space.
From these intimate spaces - where women can dream - will emerge great potential for political change in the world of art and society at large.
"We are a dynamic group of female artists that seek to create safe creative spaces for women while honoring the trailblazing artists that came before us. Our ultimate goal is to turn this one exhibit into long-term programming to include philanthropic work and engaging the community through the arts."
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