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:
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.
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.