Saturday, March 5, 2016


Happy Women's History Month! I know, it's cool that we get a whole month to celebrate all this awesomeness. If you do nothing else to commemorate this month, thank the super cool women in your life for being them.

Recently I was having dinner with a new friend and we were discussing ways to get move involved in the social scene here in the DMV. She and I are both introverts so our social/going out habits have some similarities: we don't care for crowds, we like hanging out with a few friends than huge groups, we're not fans of clubs (you know what I mean), and we prefer to be in more casual settings. This is probably why we've moved from being work friends to friend friends; we got to familiarity and similarity pretty quickly.

She asked me about the museum and why I started volunteering there versus other museums or other volunteer opportunities. This is my third museum in DC. While I enjoyed both of my previous experiences very much, I never really felt connected to either institution. It was fun, the other volunteers were nice enough, and I like teaching visitors things about the collections. I hope that my tours enhance their overall experience and make their trip brighter.

Lilla Cabot Perry, Lady in an Evening Gown
Volunteering at NMWA is a completely different experience. Yes, I started volunteering because I wanted to meet new people (which I have and I enjoy them all very much) and because I wanted to get out of the house more but it means more to me. I feel a connection to the mission and artists at NMWA that I didn't feel at either of the other museums where I volunteered. I know my work at both locations has helped me be a better docent at NMWA. I love learning about the artists in the collection, the only museum dedicated to celebrating women artists. I remember hearing the names of artists like Lily Martin Spencer, Artemisia Gentileschi, and Lilla Cabot Perry in high school when we did a production of Wendy Wasserstein's play The Heidi Chronicles. Since then, it's been my habit to look for women artists whenever I go to a museum and now I get to hang out with them several times a month.

In honor of Women's History Month, the museum has launched a new social media campaign called #5womenartists. The intention behind the campaign is to bring women artists to the forefront and address the issue of gender imbalance in the art world. I've been following along on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter since the campaign launched on March 1st and it's been awesome seeing so many people participating and the variety of artists featured. Something like 90 museums are participating in the campaign. I'll let the Guerrilla Girls tell you a little about gender and museums:

Alice Bailly, Self-Portrait
I'm giving a tour on Sunday. I haven't given a tour in awhile so I'm excited to be able to encourage participation in #5womenartists while we tour the collection. I'm including four artists I've never included in a tour before and focusing on the international spirit of the collection. In preparing for the tour, I decided to see how many of my friends and co-workers could answer the question "Can you name five women artists?" The answer: not many. The question is harder than it sounds.  Even the Huffington Post agrees. My friends came up with two consistent answers, Georgia O'Keefe and Frida Kahlo (excellent options of course), but most faltered after two. One friend knew Mary Cassatt and another mentioned Margaret Tafoya. I was most pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of Tafoya; I only recently learned about her work as part of the last special exhibition at NMWA. Her mother was also a potter as are eight of Margaret's ten children.

I want to encourage everyone to get out there this month and find some women artists. NMWA is a great place to start and this Sunday just happens to be Community Day so admission is free and you could even join my tour if you're so inclined. I've shared a few of my favorites here to get you started. If you live in the DMV, you have lots of options: NMWA, the Portrait Gallery, American Art, the Hirshhorn, the National Gallery of Art, and the Phillips Collection just to name a few. If you don't live here, find a museum or gallery in your city and play tourist and art fan. I promise it'll be fun.

Mickalene Thomas, A-E-I-O-U and Sometimes Y
Amy Sherald, It Made Sense...Mostly In Her Mind
Next week: My mom and I journey to Detroit Rock City for a bridal shower and some other stuff that one does while visiting Michigan. 

Photos by me

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