“I Am… Contemporary Women Artists of Africa” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art is featuring multimedia works by 27 modernist and contemporary female artists from 10 African countries. This exhibition highlights the vital contributions of women to numerous issues, including the environment, identity, politics, race, sexuality, social activism, faith and more.
Taking its name from the 1970s feminist anthem, “I Am Woman,” this exhibition updates and broadens perspectives on women making art. The exhibition continues through July 5, 2020.
Each of the exhibition’s 30 works of art come from the permanent collection of the National Museum of African Art. Incorporating paintings, sculpture, ceramics, high fashion, fiber arts, video projection and installation pieces, the exhibition showcases the technical sophistication and range of Africa’s artists.
The museum began collecting modern and contemporary art from its earliest days in the 1960s. A collections assessment five years ago revealed that only 11% of the named artists in the permanent collection were women. Since then, the percentage of women represented in the museum’s collection has risen to 22%. This exhibition is part of a standing commitment by the museum to increase the representation of women in the arts through exhibitions, publications, programs, accessions and professional advancement.
“The works of art and artists included in ‘I Am… Contemporary Women Artists of Africa’ reveal the compelling contributions of women to the issues that have defined their times,” said curator Karen E. Milbourne. “It also offers insights into one institution’s efforts to strengthen the diversity and inclusion of the artists represented within its collection.”
“This museum is dedicated to the fullness of Africa’s history, from ancient to contemporary times, and doing justice to this rich history is not possible without attention to the women who have shaped it,” said Gus Casely-Hayford, director of the museum.
“I Am… Contemporary Women Artists of Africa” is part of an ongoing women’s initiative by the National Museum of African Art that has also yielded the exhibition and publication, “Good as Gold.”
With: Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Batoul S’Himi, Billie Zangewa, Nompumelelo Ngoma, Senzeni Marasela, Toyin Odutola, Zanele Muholi, Patience Torlowei, Sokari Douglas Camp, Nike Davies-Okundaye, Wangechi Mutu, MwangiHutter, Frances Goodman, Adejoke Tugbiyele, Susanne Wenger (Olorisha Adunni), Ladi Kwali, Etiyé Dimma Poulsen, Magdalene Anyango N. Odundo, Mmakgabo Mmapula Helen Sebidi, Penny Siopis, Bertina Lopes, Sue Williamson, Helga Kohl, Aida Muluneh, Diane Victor, Maïmouna Guerresi, Ghada Amer