BROOKINGS – “Women are making a huge contribution to the arts in South Dakota and it is important to acknowledge it,” said South Dakota State University Professor Jeannie French.
Jodi Lundgren, the South Dakota Art Museum’s coordinator of exhibitions, said viewers will be intrigued upon visiting the museum’s newest exhibit, “Women at Work,” which features 18 selected female artists who live and work in South Dakota. The diverse range of artwork includes paintings, prints, installations, glasswork, artist’s books and sculptures.
“We want people to get excited about these women artists and what they are doing, because what’s happening in the state of South Dakota is really rich,” Lundgren said. “We have done a series of shows that deal with women at work, so this is a continuation of that. All of these women artists have their own unique and individualized voices and that was really important to me when curating this exhibit.”
The exhibit premiered March 7 and will be on display until July 23. Lundgren’s goal for the exhibit is to help viewers understand and celebrate the diverse range of art created by women. French and fellow SDSU faculty member Diana Behl are among the featured artists.
French has two ceramic sculptures, “Looking in through the Back Door” and “Corked,” on display.
“It is an honor to exhibit at the South Dakota Art Museum and to be included in an exhibition with this group of women,” French said. “’Women at Work’ demonstrates the strength, vitality and diversity of ideas of work designed and created by women in the contemporary art movement of South Dakota.”
According to Lundgren, many people are unaware of the unique works women artists are creating right here in the state of South Dakota.
“There really is no one else in the state working like these individuals. If you look at their work, you are going to know it’s theirs,” Lundgren said. “They have their own language specific to them. That was really important to me when selecting the artists for this show.”
Although each work within the exhibit is specific to the voice of the artist, in concert, it is even more thought provoking and beautiful. Upon curating the exhibit, Lundgren says she was looking for artists who each brought their own perspective and use of material.
“There are some very conceptual practices with more political and environmental aims, while others deal with things like nature, decoration and beauty. It is a diverse and broad survey, but I think together they show the gamut of what women are producing here,” Lundgren said.
Overall, Lundgren hopes the exhibit will help viewers ask more questions about what is going on in the state, and how each piece speaks to them individually.
Gender disparities in the arts are an unavoidable undercurrent with a show that separates out women artists, Lundgren said.
“Feminism has been around awhile and progress has been made, but women are still underrepresented in major exhibitions and collections, and there is still a gender pay gap in arts fields. We also wanted to bring some awareness to that without making a political statement,” Lundgren said.