Last year, New York City’s Parks Department announced plans to build a statue honoring women’s suffrage movement leaders Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The monument, designed by sculptor and human rights activist Meredith Bergmann, will be the first non-fictional female statue in Central Park. In a city where roughly 90 percent of its public monuments depict men, Bergmann intended for the sculpture to celebrate women and pay homage to those who actively fought for women’s rights, yet since it's unveiling, the piece has been met with a wave of online controversy over its subject. In January, the New York Times noted that women’s rights activists and historical scholars were among the first in recent years to call out Anthony and Stanton’s problematic history with race and more specifically, their focus on white women’s suffrage over voting rights for all women. Both figures were prominent abolitionists, but the passing of the 15th Amendment created a huge rift between those who fought for black men’s rights and those who strived for women’s rights. The frustrations voiced by white women like Anthony and Stanton, who were told to “wait their turn” as black men won the right to vote following the Civil War, often conveyed distasteful, racist undertones, according to History.com. In 1866, the two women formed the American Equal Rights Association (AERA) with Frederick Douglass, an organization whose goal was to grant equality and voting rights for both women and African Americans. But after just three years, the AERA disintegrated over debates about whether to support the 15th Amendment. The Villager wrote that at a 1869 convention, Stanton delivered a hateful speech filled with "classist, racist, and xenophobic" remarks against former slaves and immigrants, saying that uneducated and illiterate men should not be making laws for affluent women’s suffrage leaders. Bergmann, while aware of Stanton and Anthony’s shortcomings, created the sculpture to recognize their tireless efforts to mobilize an entire country toward acknowledging women as a powerful and resilient demographic. “It’s unfortunate that these two women did not transcend those prejudices,” Bergmann said in an interview with The Villager. “These things should be brought to light for sure.” The statue will feature a lengthy, 22-foot-long scroll, which will recognize the contributions of African American women, such as Mary Church Terrell, Sojourner Truth, and Ida B. Wells, who helped promote the advancement of all women’s rights. Bergmann told The Villager she hopes the presence of these black, Latina, and white women's names will "mitigate the [widespread and common] prejudices of Stanton and Anthony." The monument will be installed on Central Park's Literary Walk next year on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment's passing.
Posts tagged with "women":
The School of Visual Arts (SVA) is hosting a lecture on women designers who influenced the blueprint of the modern automobile. "Women and Cars" explores the historical and stylistic development of the car through the women who took it from its humble beginnings as a horseless carriage to the "objet de luxe of the 1920s." Conducted by design writer Russell Flinchum, Associate Professor at the College of Design at North Carolina State University, the lecture is set to honor former SVA faculty member and design critic Phil Patton whose fascination with cars informed a large part of his writing career. Flinch plans to look at the "concours d'elegance" by featuring haute couture clothing alongside equally chic cars. In the post-war period, being seen to have "good taste" was no more evident in the cars of General Motors. Under the "GM System," design executive Harley Earl created an automobile aesthetic that we've come to associate with a certain period in American history. To many, the 1950s "Damsels in Design" advertisements created by Earl are seen as the starting point for examining women's contributions to the modern automobile. The "damsels" were nine women designers from Pratt Institute that Earl selected to model with GM cars, and their presence was meant to appeal to women who managed their household's purchases. By going back in the archives, SVA is exploring a period in time that is reflective of a revolutionary decade in automobile history. The talk is set to take place Tuesday, March 22 at the SVA Department of Design Research, Writing and Criticism (136 West 21st Street).
Annals of Computing: “Silicon City” exhibition at the New York Historical Society questions origins of the digital era
Radical inventions that lead to profound societal transformations tend to be accompanied by founding myths and overlapping claims for authorship. Once a certain founding story has been widely accepted, research will periodically uncover it as being false, and the evidence for an alternate narrative will emerge. Trying to change accepted founding myths is notoriously difficult: Gutenberg built his printing press after centuries of development in printmaking across the world, but his name is strongly tied to the advent of the printing revolution. Importantly, the significance of a figure like Gutenberg and the related story becomes a point of local pride. The founding myth of computing is a multifaceted story still in the process of being created. Since the invention of computing simultaneously challenged notions of collaboration and the concept of individual authorship, tracing the genesis of this technology is particularly demanding. Silicon City: Computer History Made in New—an exhibition that opened recently at the New York Historical Society—finds the roots of the digital era in the New York region. The curvilinear exhibition design is anchored by three bulbous spaces housing thematic multi-screen installations. The first spheroid is a mini- recreation of the egg shaped IBM pavilion at the 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair. The original Information Machine designed by Eero Saarinen allowed 400 guests to view a show directed by Charles and Ray Eames—a spectacle on twenty-two screens of various shapes and sizes. A second cavern, reminiscent of Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes, is housing a video reel showing pioneering collaborations between artists and engineers in the 1960s. These include 9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering, a series of large scale performatic live events at the Armory. Engineers worked with artists from various disciplines—including Robert Rauschenberg, Steve Paxton and John Cage—to create custom technical equipment including responsive systems and participatory apparatuses. These early experiments in digital art were certainly enabled by a convergence of artistic and technological talent only possible in New York. Meandering between these video installations, the core of the exhibition is tracing local achievements of the history of computing from the 1800s to the 1980s, showcasing a number of stunningly beautiful technological artifacts. Highlights include a IBM SSEC console, a large table with hundreds of regularly spaced knobs originally located in the IBM headquarters on Madison Avenue. Another fascinating device is a matrix of jacks connected by plug-in cords, programmed by making physical connections. These objects are accompanied by image documentation, in some instances highlighting the undervalued role of female engineers. Images of exceptional figures like Grace Hopper—a native New Yorker—teaching the coding language COBOL she helped to develop at IBM, reinstate the importance of women in the early development of computers. A section on identity branding and design highlights the work of Paul Rand and Eliot Noyles at IBM and a gallery on graphics, music and games presents a medley of various gaming consoles and cultural artifacts. A third immersive capsule ends the show with a multimedia showcase highlighting current tech companies and startups in New York, providing a uplifting outlook reinstating New York as a city thriving with digital technologies. Focussing on the development of technology from a local perspective produces some astonishing omissions—the military, a driving financial and ideological force behind the development of computers is barely mentioned. Nevertheless, filled with fascinating objects, the show presents one facet of a transformative global invention. Mythicizing the development of early computing as a New York story, it delivers a rich kaleidoscope of locally based innovation.
We live in a listicle age. Why write an article when you can clump a few names together and call it a trend? So when Los Angeles Magazine listed six women who have changed the face of Los Angeles architecture, which included one dead AIA Gold Medalist and two New Yorkers, it was bound to create outcry. Brava to the three local gals who made the cut, but let’s celebrate all the women of the L.A. architecture and design scene. When local schools put one lady on the lecture series and pat themselves on the back, we know more needs to be done for gender equity.
The Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF), a non-profit dedicated to "changing the culture of the building industry, for women, through education and research," just announced that after a national search it has chosen a new executive director: James T. Hanley, formerly the senior associate director of development at Barnard College. Hanley has undergraduate and advanced degrees in architecture along with an MBA and an MA in Art History and claims he will use his "skills in program development and financial management to broaden the role of the organization throughout the United States.” Beverly Willis, the founder of BWAF, said that Hanley is "keenly aware of the issues encountered by women in the design industry" which will "enable BWAF to build on its prior successes and help women achieve their professional and personal goals through our programs and outreach." Under Hanley’s leadership, the organization is launching a number of new initiatives in 2014. These include the exploration of a program for women as emerging leaders and the impact of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) as factors in success. Another new initiative is “Built by Women: New York City,” a focused collection within the Foundation’s Dynamic National Archive (DNA), which BWAF plans to use as a pilot for similar projects for cities around the country. Finally In 2014, it will complete its project entitled “Women of 20th-Century American Architecture,” to highlight the contributions of 50 outstanding women who significantly shaped the built environment in America.
Thanks to the Italcementi Group, International Women’s Day just became that much more special. This year the group found a unique way to celebrate the holiday by instituting the very first competition its arcVision—Women in Architecture prize, an award that valorizes the increasingly important role women have and continue to play in architecture. The jury selected 19 finalists from 15 different countries including but not limited to Egypt, Switzerland, Singapore, Italy, and Thailand. The architects were judged according to their creative approach in designing an unconventional structure as well as their ability to design a building that responds to the context of its site. The prize was bestowed to Brazilian architect Carla Juaçaba at a press conference at the group’s i.lab Research Center (designed by Richard Meier) in Bergamo on March 7th, and was publicly announced the following day for International Women’s Day. Juaçaba, who collaborated with artist Bia Lassi, won for her design of the Pavilion Humanidade 2012 project developed specifically for the United Nations' conference on sustainable development, Rio +20. The architect innovatively designed a translucent waterfront scaffold building made entirely of previously-used, recyclable materials. The temporary structure was used to house private spaces as well as the two-week private exhibition on sustainability. By designing a structure that is exposed to all weather conditions Juaçaba designed a pavillion that was seamlessly integrated into it’s natural surroundings. The architect, who says her design was inspired by the work of Paulo Mendes, explained “sustainability and geography are closely related in architecture. It might make sense to build on Africa or in some places in Brazil using clay, or to create green roofs in Buenos Aires, but not in this specific site in the fortress of Copacabana. It’s as if every specific geographical point has to find it’s own equilibrium.” Juaçaba further commented on winning the award by saying, “I think it is really special to have thought of a Prize only for women. I was never “invited” to all the work I’ve done so far. I have always had to struggle to prove that I was capable. I’m not saying this just because I am a woman, but I think that for us it is a little more complicated. So it is really great to have such a prize to highlight this effort, because all work requires hard work. I am really very excited.” Additionally, honorable mentions were awarded to three other female architects: Izaskun Chinchilla from Spain, Anupama Kundoo from India, and Siiri Valner from Estonia. This year marks the establishment of a new tradition: from this year forward the Italcementi Group aims to continue recognizing the accomplishments of female architects all over the world through the arcVision Prize.
In a recent interview with the London newspaper The Observer, architect Zaha Hadid made the point that female architects are typecast. “It is thought they [women] understand interior shapes, and I am sure they do understand them better than men actually, but the idea is that they will prefer to deal with a single client, rather than with corporations and developers,” said Hadid, noting that women practitioners often ended up with residential or leisure-related projects rather than large-scale commercial work. Hadid spoke out following publication of a research report by the Architects’ Journal on gender issues in British architecture. The report, deploying a rather Shakespearian tone, claims to have uncovered a “sinister and rotten kernel of inequality.” Women “need to be encouraged and to have their confidence built up,” said Hadid, a notoriously tough boss herself. We’d like to see Hadid team up with Facebook COO turned working-woman activist Sheryl Sandberg for a road show.
California's Designing Women The Autry in Griffith Park 4700 Western Heritage Way Los Angeles Through January 6, 2013 It was uncommon for women to practice industrial design throughout late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, California’s newness and frequent population growth provided various opportunities for women to get involved with the creation and production of design. Autry National Center’s California’s Designing Women, 1896–1986 with works from over fifty women designers from California celebrates female designers who made major contributions to Californian and American design. The exhibition displays approximately 240 examples of textiles, ceramics, furniture, lighting, tapestries, jewelry, clothing, and graphics all inspired by California’s amalgam of society which include Indigenous American, Chinese, Japanese, Anglo, and Mexican cultures. Upholding California’s reputation for unlimited creativity, the displayed work includes materials such as wood, abalone, glass cotton, steel, silver, acetate, acrylic, and fiberglass, spanning a century of design movements from arts and crafts to art deco to mid-century modern and beyond.
Femmes are front, center, and all around in Los Angeles' Architecture and Design museum’s third installation of its summer series, Come In! Usually a fun-filled event, this year’s exhibition strikes a chord in an industry often criticized for not being more gender equal. Issue aside, this year’s Come In! Les Femmes exhibit offers a look into the unique perspective of 25 women from varied art and design disciplines. As expected, in dealing with gender, one can’t escape the occasional critique of women’s roles in society and this exhibition is no exception. By juxtaposing blissful bridal images with symbols of domestic drudgery like irons and cookware, graphic designer Petrula Vrontikis asks us to contemplate the thin line that divides princess from domestic peasant in what she calls, “Brides = Maids.” Meanwhile, rather than using a standard canopy, installation artist Amy Jean Boebel fashioned a charcoal aluminum wire mesh into a giant frilly top in “Noesis.” Inside, a television set broadcasts the changing roles of women through the years. Apparel was also architect Doris Sung’s starting point. Inspired by age-old corsets, Sung creates a sculpture made out of thermobimetal that contracts and expands according to ambient heat. Other artists chose to co-opt traditional women’s implements, turning them toward new uses. Tanya Aguiniga, known more for her rope necklaces and textiles, surprises with a beautiful surface treatment inspired by cake decorating. Soft peaks and swirls dyed in subtle colors twirl and churn on an otherwise boring wall. While Aguiniga wields the cake decorator, Gwen Samuels takes to needle and thread, stitching together digital images of little cities, appropriately called “Metropolis.” Still others took an environmental stance. A strange machine of tubes, vacuums, and pink and blue liquid mysteriously stands on the far end, blurring the line between organic and man-made. A work of Alison Petty Ragguette, it looks almost human one minute, mechanical the next. Minarc's entry was more straightforward. Fashioning a waterfall of water bottles, the exhibition sheds light on humanity’s continual disruption of nature’s water cycles. Not everyone was quite so serious. Design, Bitches, in collaboration with Meiko Takechi Arquillos, designed a photo booth complete with props to recreate design’s most iconic shots. Think Eameses on a motorcycle. Paper becomes play object in artist Rebecca Niederlander's “The Devil’s Workshop.” Niederlander asks visitors to take part in some dastardly deed by adding to an ever-growing papercut installation that crawls from the wall to the ceiling. While we’re being tempted to add to the chaos, Jennifer Wolf quite literally waves a pink flag. Wolf hung huge textiles dyed red and pink from cochineal extract attached them to the museum’s posts and turned the small Wilshire space into a small ship ready to set sail for destinations unknown. Much like the effect of Wolf’s installation, this year’s Come In! is a tour de femme of discovery. A walk around the gallery will surely get you wondering and pondering, “What will these women think of next?” As part of its annual exhibition, A+D, the LA Forum, and the Association for Women in Architecture + Design are hosting a Pecha Kucha event celebrating women architects, designers, and artists in Los Angeles. Femmes Fatales VI will be held on July 26, 2012 at the A+D Museum. Details here. Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow.
Every once in a while forces converge and we get an epic architecture weekend. One of those weekends is happening now. Here are some of the events going on in LA this weekend: 1.) Hollywood Wilshire Boulevard Focus Weekend, featuring free admission at the A+D Museum, Hammer Museum, Craft and Folk Art Museum, MAK Center, Fowler Museum along Wilshire Boulevard as well as events at all the institutions. All revolve around the Getty's epic Pacific Standard Time series of exhibitions. These include: A discussion called The Legacy of the California Design Exhibitions at LACMA; a talk with Deborah Sussman about Eames Designs at A+D; a panel about Mapping Another L.A.: The Chicano Art Movement at the Fowler, a discussion about Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960 – 1980 at the Hammer; and a about Sympathetic Seeing: Esther McCoy and the Heart of American Modernist Architecture and Design at the MAK Center. 2.) Launch of the exhibition, Architecture—A Woman's Profession at WUHO Hollywood and a Saturday panel discussion at the MAK Center, moderated by AN's Sam Lubell and featuring author Tanja Kullack as well as Barbara Bestor, Monica Ponce de Leon, Dagmar Richter, and Ingalill Whlroos-Ritter. 3.) Inglewood Open Studios, featuring visits to the studios of more than 30 artists (and a few architects) in this emerging arts district, but showing off great arts spaces like the 32,400 square foot Beacon Arts Building.
On Wednesday night, the Guggenheim brought together the women behind the man, and apparently the myth of Frank Lloyd Wright, in a program titled “The Architecture of Wright: Wright, Women & Narrative." Co-organized with the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, the lecture was accompanied by the premiere of A Girl Is A Fellow Here: 100 Women Architects in the Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright, a 15-minute documentary film produced by the Foundation. Throughout his career, Wright employed over 100 women architects and designers, and the film focuses on the lives of six of these women, including Marion Mahony, Isabel Roberts, Lois Gottlieb, Jane Duncombe, Eleanore Petterson, and Read Weber, who worked alongside Wright during his prolific career from his Oak Park offices to Taliesin West.Through their work and words, the film reveals what each woman learned from their time with Wright, what they took with them, and how they went on to become established architects in their own right. From splitting wood, to laying shingles, drafting, and designing, women were treated as equals under Wright. Given the opportunity of training and practice, the film shows, these women went from apprentices to partners and owners of their own firms, creating thousands of projects across the country. While the film focused more specifically on the women and their role in the history of modern architecture (which unfortunately, for the most part, was overlooked until this documentary), the accompanying discussion, led by Suzannah Lessard with Carol Gilligan and Gwendolyn Wright, was structured around Wright. Using the documentary as a catalyst, the lecture delved into deeper issues of architectural narrative and how Wright’s autonomy often overshadowed his collaborative relationships, in this case, with the women he employed. The film is scheduled to be released in mid-July, and will soon be available on the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation’s website.