Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Women’s Art, Women’s Vision

By Brianne Harrison

It’s Women’s History month, and what better way to celebrate than by taking in some spectacular exhibits that celebrate women’s art and craft as well as women’s empowerment?

First up is “Women’s Art, Women’s Vision,” an exhibition of rugs and needlework at the Burlington County Annex Art Gallery. The works run the gamut from traditional to experimental and celebrate techniques and works that struggle to be recognized as art. Traditional needlework associated with women, such as embroidery, rug hooking, and quilting, is often dismissed as merely “craft”, which unfairly denies the creators credit for their creativity and skill. Just because something is functional doesn’t mean it can’t be considered a work of art.

Appropriately for Women’s History Month, Gallery Twenty-One in Newark has chosen to showcase the work of Myra Alpizar, an artist who provocatively uses embroidery (usually thought of as delicate work) to create pieces that highlight and denounce the abuses and struggles women have had to face throughout history. The artist has endured her share of hardship: she was exiled from her native Cuba and now lives in Spain. She has channeled her painful history into works that are thought-provoking and, on occasion, disturbing, but certainly fodder for a good conversation and debate.

Finally, the Jersey City Museum is examining images of women in its exhibit “Paper Dolls,” which runs through mid-May. Figurative prints from artists that include Mac Adams, Isabel Bishop, William Gropper, James Rosenquist, and Kenneth Hayes Miller examine how artists depict women and girls.

Women’s Art, Women’s vision runs through March 28 at the Burlington County Annex Art Gallery (Smithville Rd. and Meade Ln, Eastampton, burlcoarts.com). Mayra Alpizar’s work can be seen at Gallery Twenty-One (611 McCarter Highway, Newark, gallerytwenty-one.com). Paper Dolls runs through May 16 at the Jersey City Museum (350 Montgomery St., Jersey City, jerseycitymuseum.org).

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