On April 7, 1987 the National Museum of Women in the Arts opened its doors in Washington, D.C.; it is the first museum devoted solely to women artists. There would be no national museum to honor women artists if not for the combined efforts of women artists working in their local communities. Exactly 36 years later, there is still much work to be done at every level of the arts to ensure that women artists are gaining the recognition they deserve. A recent study from Willams College revealed that only 13% of artists featured in collections at major U.S. art museums are women, despite the fact that women represent 55% of working artists.
Summit Artspace is dedicated to championing women artists in Summit County and beyond. This Spring Exhibition cycle celebrates and honors the contributions of local women artists to our arts and culture landscape. With its current exhibition in our Intersections Gallery, the Women’s Art League of Akron celebrates its 90th Anniversary. The organization was founded in 1933 as response to the reality that women were restricted from joining the active arts organizations at that time. They continue today as an important example of how women come together to accomplish great things. Their membership welcomes artists working in a range of styles and media.
Our solo exhibitions this season showcase the artwork of two women artists working in unique and powerful ways by leveraging their identity, as not only women, but women of color, to challenge art world norms. In our Main Gallery, Gwen Waight’s the things we carry features assemblages created from a variety of found non-traditional materials to advocate for women’s rights and challenge stereotypes of Asian people. In Crystal Miller’s Horizon Gallery exhibition, Black Spaces: Defying Social Constructs, the artist also uses non-traditional materials, be-dazzling her fantastically colored paintings of Black women to celebrate and uplift their identity.
The Artist of Rubber City’s Juried Exhibition in our Forum Gallery showcases a variety of artworks that range in style and medium, many by local women artists of all ages and backgrounds. AoRC was founded by former arts advocate Betty Taylor—known to many as a “powerhouse” for her local influence—and you won’t want to miss the ongoing display of her artwork on the 2nd Floor outside our offices. The 2nd Annual StarBurst Juried Exhibition for Summit County High School Seniors in our Welcome Gallery and throughout our hallways features artworks by future artists and art lovers. Seeing artwork by budding artists leaves me feeling hopeful for the future: We can be confident that they will persist in positive change toward equity and inclusion for all gender identities.
Natalie Grieshammer Patrick
Director of Artist Resources