The Leader staff


CORNING | In an attempt to counter under-representation of works by women, including in its own collection, The Rockwell Museum recently announced that in 2020, it will exclusively pursue art by women in its acquisitions.


Officials said the 2020 theme, “Advancing Women,” is inspired by the centennial anniversary of U.S. women achieving the right to vote.


They noted that programming at the museum next year will also focus on women and their artistic contributions.


“Just 13 percent of the artists with work on view in major institutions are women, according to a 2019 study by the Public Library of Science,” museum officials said in a written release. “Today, roughly 32 percent of objects on view in The Rockwell’s permanent galleries are by women artists and makers.”


“This theme was chosen as an active response to the under-representation of women artists throughout American institutions,” said Kirsty Harper Buchanan, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at The Rockwell Museum. “Deeply entrenched cultural biases have prevented a fair and open art market and restricted equal access to resources.”


“This celebration of suffrage will also be pointedly inclusive of works by women of color since this milestone is a critical reminder that the original extension of voting rights only applied to white women,” said Brian Lee Whisenhunt, Executive Director of The Rockwell Museum. “Our mission is to provoke curiosity, engagement and reflection about art and the American experience. However, the multi-faceted and diverse nature of that experience is often left out of discussions about it. With this theme, we are recommitting our organization and its community of members and supporters to better reflect that diversity.”


Museum officials said they’ve “jump-started” their efforts with two recent additions to the collection.


An untitled work, circa 1970, by Michael (Corinne) West, an abstract oil and enamel piece on paper, is one of the pieces joining the collection.


West used the name Michael “to mask her gender at a time when women artists were tolerated but did not enjoy equal access to the art world,” officials said.


Also being added is a 2018 photo print, “Xochipilli ‘The Flower Prince’,” by Martine Gutierrez.


“The image depicts a personification of the Aztec god Xochipilli, a benevolent deity of excesses and fertility. Xochipilli was associated with feasting, flowers, pleasure, dancing, painting, hallucinogens, games and artistic creativity,” officials said.


More information about the project and planned programming for 2020 is online at www.rockwellmuseum.org.