In honor of Women’s History Month and The National Museum of Women in the Arts #5WomenArtists challenge, we’re highlighting some of the spectacular women on our staff and the female artists who inspire them.
Liza Strelka, Manager of Exhibitions
Manager of Exhibitions Liza Strelka
Do you have a favorite woman artist from The Phillips Collection, or a favorite female artist whose work has been on display at the museum?
LS: I have to list two: Alma Thomas and Linn Meyers.
Linn Meyers’s 2010 Intersections installation at the Phillips, “at the time being.” Photos: Sarah Osborne Bender
Who is your all-time favorite female artist? Do you remember the first time you saw her work? How does she inspire you?
LS: It’s impossible for me to name just one favorite, but I adore the wooden assemblage sculptures of Louise Nevelson. I was introduced to her work in college, and I’ve visited the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s sculpture by her countless times since. I could stare at her wood assemblages for hours. The interplay of darkness and light, movement and stillness, and chaos and order in her work speaks to her tremendous talent. Every time you look at a work by Nevelson, something new reveals itself to you.
Name five women artists:
Arlene Shechet with her installation Once Removed (1998). These works are mde from abacá paper and Hydrocal. Photos: Rhiannon Newman
Check out these behind-the-scenes photos of Arlene Shechet installing her Intersections project, From Here On Now. Shechet is a New York-based sculptor known for glazed ceramic sculptures that are off-kilter yet hang in a balance between stable and unstable, teetering between the restraint of intellect and the insistence of instinct.
Shechet in the staircaise of the original Phillips house with Deputy Director for Curatorial and Academic Affairs Klaus Ottmann. Photo: Rhiannon Newman
Deciding on positioning for Shechet’s Best Behavior (2014). Photo: Rhiannon Newman
Shechet and Ottmann with the artist’s Best Behavior (2014). Photo: Rhiannon Newman
In an adjacent gallery to the one pictured above, portraits from the museum’s permanent collection are hung salon style. Photo: Rhiannon Newman
In addition to her works on view in the second floor of the original Phillips house, Shechet’s ceramics are on view in a first floor gallery of the more recent addition. Shechet and Ottmann are pictured here with For the Forest (2016). Photo: Rhiannon Newman
Arlene Shechet installing Once Removed (1998). Photo: Rhiannon Newman
William Merritt Chase, Lydia Field Emmett, 1892. Oil on canvas, 72 x 36 1/8 in. Brooklyn Museum, New York, Gift of the artist
After years of study with him at the Art Students League, in 1891, Lydia Field Emmet accepted William Merritt Chase’s offer to lead the preparatory class at the Shinnecock Summer School of Art. By this time, she was also pursuing work as a society portraitist and a designer of stained glass for Tiffany and Company. Her self-assured expression fixed on Chase’s canvas captures an image of an artist who would become one of the foremost American women portrait painters of the late 19th century.
The portrait bears the strong imprint of the 17th century Dutch portraiture tradition, sharing with Anthony van Dyck, Rembrandt, and Frans Hals an allegiance to painterly brushwork, elegant contrasts of light and dark, dramatic pose, and expressive tone. Moreover, Lydia Field Emmet highlights Chase’s skillful hand in conveying texture, as seen in the precise rendering of the lace and the variegated tones of the pink satin ribbon—signs of the enduring legacy of the artist’s Munich training.
Elsa Smithgall, William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master exhibition curator