Women to Watch

NMWA has outreach committees throughout the country and the world that play a critical role in bringing the museum’s mission to regional and international audiences. Having access to—and knowledge of—these audiences, the outreach organizations are uniquely positioned to bring programs highlighting the contributions of women artists to their communities.

Women to Watch is an exhibition program developed for NMWA’s national and international committees. Every two to three years, an exhibition is held at NMWA that features underrepresented and emerging women artists from the states and countries in which the museum has outreach committees. Each exhibition focuses on a specific medium or theme chosen by the museum’s curators.

The program is designed to increase the visibility of promising women artists who are deserving of national and international attention. In addition, the program is aimed at involving high quality art professionals, with diverse areas of expertise, into the committees’ activities.

Each participating committee works with a curator to propose artists from their region and NMWA’s contemporary curator then selects artists to participate in a group exhibition on the selected theme at NMWA in Washington.

Les Amis du NMWA raises funds for the transportation of the the artwork and the artist’s trip to the exhibition opening.

The sixth installment of Women to Watch, in 2020will showcase the transformation of paper into complex works of art.

Women to Watch

Theme : “paper routes”
Artist : Georgia Russell

The sixth installment of Women to Watch, “Paper Routes”, will showcase the transformation of paper into complex works of art. The French selection committee for this exhibition is made up of Judith de Montgolfier and Fabienne Flanigan in close collaboration with Constance Rubini, director of the Musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design in Bordeaux.

The exhibition Paper Routes: Women to Watch 2020 is essential to our mission. The pandemic’s profound impact on travel and shipping means that we will be unable to open the exhibition in late June as planned, even if the museum building has reopened at that time. Therefore, we have decided to move the Women to Watch exhibition to fall 2020.

New dates due to the COVID 19 pandemic :
The exhibition Paper Routes Women to Watch 2020 will take place from the 7th October 2020 until 18th January 2021. 


Women to Watch

Theme : “heavy metal”
Artist : Charlotte Charbonnel

Heavy Metal, the fifth installment in NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, showcases contemporary artists working in metal. The exhibition series is presented every two to three years and is a dynamic collaboration between the museum and participating outreach committees (of which Les Amis du NMWA is one).

The 20 committees participating in Women to Watch 2018 worked with curators in their respective regions to create shortlists of artists working with metal. Les Amis du NMWA worked with Alicia Knock, curator at the Mnam Centre Pompidou. The shortlisted artists were: Marianne Anselin, Katinka Bock, Jennifer Caubet, Charlotte Charbonnel and Laura Lamiel. Charlotte Charbonnel was selected for the exhibition and her work will be on view at NMWA from June 28th.

Featured artists in Heavy Metal investigate the physical properties and expressive possibilities of metalwork through a wide variety of objects, including sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Works in the exhibition range from large-scale installations to small objects intended for personal adornment; these disparate works are fashioned out of iron, steel, bronze, silver, gold, brass, tin, aluminum, copper, and pewter. This exhibition seeks to disrupt the predominantly masculine narrative that surrounds metalworking and demonstrate that contemporary women artists carry on a vibrant legacy in the field.

Women to Watch

Theme : “organic matters
Artist : Françoise Pétrovitch

Les Amis du NMWA is once again participating in NMWA’s exhibition series Women to Watch. The theme is nature in contemporary art and the exhibition Organic Matters – Women to Watch 2015 will feature contemporary artists working with imagery and/or materials taken from the natural world.

Les Amis du NMWA worked with Julia Garimorth, curator from the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, to identify a shortlist of women artists working in this theme in France. The shortlisted artists were:

Marie Denis
Mireille Gros
Ariane Michel
Marlène Mocquet
Françoise Pétrovitch

In October 2014, Les Amis du NMWA organized a conference in partnership with La Cité International des Arts – Flora and Fauna: a contemporary look. Julia Garimorth moderated a discussion with the five shortlisted artists

Virginia Treanor, Associate Curator at NMWA, subseqently announced the selection of Françoise Pétrovitch to represent France in the exhibition. Featuring the work of thirteen artists, Organic Matters – Women to Watch 2015 will take place from June 5 to September 13, 2015.

The Theme

Women to Watch 2015 is the fourth installment in NMWA’s exhibition series that features emerging or underrepresented artists from the states and countries in which NMWA has outreach committees. This exhibition will illuminate how contemporary artists re-contextualize images of plants and animals to reflect upon the themes of sexuality, gender politics, and the abject. Nature-based imagery created by sculptors, painters, photographers, and video artists extends the Romantic-era idea that the mysterious and uncontrollable power of nature serves as an apt metaphor for the persistent unruliness of human culture.

The connection between women and nature has a long history, one that is fraught with gendered stereotypes and discriminating assumptions. As far back as the Greek philosopher Plato, there has been a tendency in Western culture to associate nature with women in contrast to the masculine realm of the mind and rational thought. In art, women were often encouraged by society to take the natural world as their subject. In contrast to history and religious painting, which required (male) invention and imagination, subjects such as Maria Sibylla Merian’s botanic drawings, the still-life paintings of Rachel Ruysch, and Rosa Bonheur’s images of animals required “only” the power of observation.

Contemporary artists working with imagery and/or materials taken from the natural world call to mind these entrenched associations of women with nature. They open a dialogue about these traditional views and actively redefine the relationship between women, nature and, art.

Some current artists using motifs from nature in new and provocative ways are:
Julie Heffernan, Carson Fox, Claire Morgan, Kate Clark, Neeta Madahar, Ruby Osorio, Petah Coyne, Janaina Tschäpe, Rebekah Bogard, Maria Tomasula, Yayoi Kusama, Judith Schaechter, Sandy Skoglund, Birgit Jürgenssen, Inka Essenhigh, Su-Mei Tse and Beth Cavener Stichter.

November 2012 –
January 2013

Theme : textiles
Artist : Laure Tixier

The theme for the third installment of Women to Watch was textiles in contemporary art. Les Amis du NMWA worked with Camille Morineau, Curator of Contemporary Collections at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, to identify artists working in this theme.

The five artists proposed to NMWA for the exhibition High Fiber – Women to Watch 2012 were:

In March of 2012, les Amis du NMWA organized a conference at the Maison Rouge with Camille Morineau and the 5 artists in order for them to present their works as well as to explore the theme of “textiles in contemporary art”.

Kathryn Wat, Chief Curator at NMWA, selected Laure Tixier to represent France in the exhibit High Fiber – Women to Watch 2012. The exhibit took place from November 2, 2012 until January 6, 2013.

The questions of housing, architecture and city planning are all recurrent themes in Laure Tixier’s work. Her fantasy-based drawings and videos typically center on her vision of utopian – and – dystopian- worlds. Tixier compares her recent house sculptures made from felt to blanket forts built by children : both represent architecture as a means for shelter as well as a stage for the imagination. Her eight-foot-tall Plaid House (20008) resembles the classic architecture of Amsterdam and reflects her interest in architectural history. Tixier’s smaller felt constructions are variations on architectural designs from cultures worldwide. Her vividly colored “maquettes” resemble yurts, bell towers, office buildings, or space-age pods.

The works chosen for the exhibit were Plaid House – Immeuble d’Amsterdam (red) on loan from the MUDAM in Luxembourg as well as a selection of smaller houses, Plaid Houses III, on loan from the Galerie Polaris in Paris. Les Amis du NMWA assumed responsibility for organizing and financing the transportation of the works.

We sincerely thank Belinda de Gaudemar and Nancy Gillespie de La Selle for all their work as well as our sponsors Katherine Graham Debost and Air France for their generous support without which this project would never have happened.


Theme : photography
Artist : Valérie Belin

In 2008, Les Amis du NMWA participated in Women to Watch 2008, an exhibition of photography by 8 woman artists. Valérie Belin represented France.

Two works were exhibited in Washington from Belin’s New Faces (Portraits) series, 2006, created with models from Paris agencies. Though shot in color, Belin’s models appear colorless, lifeless, and sexless. It is not clear whether the blank expressions and flattened features are images of real people or computer-generated avatars. Belin raises questions about contemporary identity by cutting away any frame of reference that would enable the viewer to convert the images into a story.