Women's history has long been marginalized in mainstream education, relegated to its own niche of study and overlooked in favor of male-dominated historical narratives. SHE INSPIRES, a group exhibition at The Untitled Space, highlights these lesser told histories through the work of over 60 contemporary artists. Each piece in the show is an homage to an important woman. Curator, Indira Cesarine, tells Creators, "SHE INSPIRES aims to honor and celebrate women who have impacted our culture and tell their stories which should be rightfully included not just as 'women's history,' but everyone's history."
SHE INSPIRES aims to showcase not simply what these women look like, but more importantly what they've done. Through sculpture, painting, photography, and mixed media, the exhibit educates as well as inspires. Among many, some works of note include textile portraits of Frida Kahlo and Angela Davis by Jess De Wahls, a painting by Tara Lewis entitled, High School, that acts as an ode to millennial feminists, and multimedia paintings by Nichole Washington, inspired by 90s female hip hop artists, such as Queen Latifah and Missy Elliot. Washington first photographs black women in heroic and empowering poses in her studio then paints over the prints with bright colors reminiscent of 90s hip-hop culture, palettes evident in television shows like In Living Color, or Martin. Cesarine even included a few of her own paintings, like the one pictured above, Arrested for Equality—An Ode to the Suffragettes.
Also notable is Kelsey Bennett's sculpture, Joan Didion's 1969 Corvette Stingray was Daytona Yellow. It renders toy Corvettes, painted white, into a backdrop for a message about the empowerment of women through their relationship to cars, a generally masculine symbol. Bennett was inspired by a well-known photograph of Joan Didion with her Stingray. "She nonchalantly leans on the car sensually smoking her cigarette," Bennett explains, "and casually walking around the beautifully shaped fenders of her Corvette with a sense of ownership and knowingness that women are so rarely given credit for embodying. In these images with her car by her side she is the image of empowerment." As the photograph was shot in black-and-white, Bennett always assumed the car was white, but later discovered it was yellow, when Didion publicly stated, "The Stingray was Daytona Yellow, which was a yellow so bright you could never mistake it for anything other than Daytona Yellow."
SHE INSPIRES addresses our current sociopolitical struggles through a lens of historical female inspiration. According to Cesarine, "The concept of SHE INSPIRES was a very personal response to all of this, and I felt for myself at least, that it was crucial to focus on inspiration as a positive way to counter a lot of the negativity." The uplifting tone of the show is undeniable and it was designed with the very specific agenda of affecting change (a portion of the proceeds generated will be donated to She Should Run, a non-profit dedicated to empowering future female leaders). "As an artist and gallerist," Cesarine concludes, "I felt it was the right timing for an exhibition that embraced inspiration as a tool for change with numerous artists coming together to highlight inspirational women and their achievements."
SHE INSPIRES is on display at The Untitled Space in Soho through May 20th. Click here for accompanying events and more information.