NAWA at Endicott
by J. Fatima Martins
“Breaking Ground,” a presentation of 55 conceptually and materially diverse works of art — painting, photography, ceramics, fiber, printmaking, mixed-media, sculpture and bronze — by 46 contemporary women artists of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Women Artists, Inc. (NAWA) asks: “Does being a woman artist influence your style, subject and or medium?”
NAWA, the oldest professional women’s fine arts organization in the United States, was founded as the Women’s Art Club of New York in 1889. Its membership has included some of the most prominent, influential and world-renowned female artists, such as Louise Nevelson, Suzanne Valadon, Mary Cassatt and Rosa Bonheur, to name only a few.
The exhibition features a sampling of almost everything (except video arts), with styles and modes ranging from traditional, bucolic and prosaic still-lifes, portraits, ceramics and landscapes, to deeply conceptual, intellectual and action-filled abstraction, to expressive and emotional figuration, feminist bronze pieces and political social collage and print statements. There are also examples of alternative/experimental sculptural jewelry and fiber constructions.
Some people may question the necessity of an all-female art exhibition. The reason that exhibitions like “Breaking Ground” are still important is simple: the gender default for humanity is still male, and the gender default for “artist” continues to be masculine. Organizations like NAWA continue not only to provide opportunity to women artists, but also work to uphold the powerful narrative of women’s history and voice