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Exhibition focuses on works from museum's collection by womxn artists
Christina Quarles, Feel’d, 2018. Collection Walker Art Center, Edward R. Bazinet Charitable Foundation, 2018.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN.- The Walker Art Center presents Don’t let this be easy, an institutional project taking the form of an exhibition focused on works from the Walker’s collection by womxn artists (a term designed to be more inclusive of nonbinary individuals, trans women, and women of color). The exhibition is presented in conjunction with the Feminist Art Coalition (FAC), a nationwide effort involving more than 100 museums committed to social justice and structural change.

Don’t let this be easy highlights the diverse and experimental practices of womxn artists beginning in the 1970s and spanning some 50 years through a selection of paintings, sculptures, moving image works, artists’ books, and materials from the archives. To this day, these artworks challenge traditional museum categories and collecting practices, calling attention to the limitations inherent in institutional divisions and policies. The show’s title encompasses the issues raised by these artworks: strictures of commercial and institutional validation, desire for artistic and intellectual freedom, and unique ways that artists have critically responded to these frameworks.

Beginning in the 1970s, when many womxn (especially artists of color) were finding little commercial support and limited opportunity to present in institutions for their work, they developed radically experimental and genre-crossing practices that were difficult to collect or categorize. Indeed, some of the works on view here were acquired through the library or found in the archives, rather than having entered the Walker’s visual arts collection directly. The apparatuses of classification and conferring value ingrained in the art world that have historically excluded womxn also marginalize trans, gender non-conforming, and two spirit artists, and the exhibition’s title observes this tension between identity, categorization, creative effort, and sociopolitical critique. With imagination (and often acerbic wit), the artists assembled here refuse the status quo, wage critique from within and outside of the art world, and rightfully assert their own, wildly diverse relationships to feminism, womxnhood, and artistic practice.

The exhibition will be coupled with new scholarship, interpretation, and online publishing focused on underrepresented stories from the Walker’s collection, in addition to an extensive documentation project to increase the availability of images of collection works by womxn on the Walker’s website.

Don’t let this be easy is organized by Nisa Mackie, director and curator of Education and Public Programs, and Alexandra Nicome, Interpretation Fellow.

Alphabetical list of artists: Ida Applebroog / Lutz Bacher / Sadie Benning / Andrea Bowers / Andrea Carlson / Martha Colburn / Maya Deren / Nazli Dincel / Nancy Dwyer / Mary Beth Edelson / Karen Finley / Ellen Gallagher / Jacqueline Hassink / Eva Hesse / Jenny Holzer / Alice Hutchins / Alison Knowles / Barbara Kruger / Shigeko Kubota / Suzanne Lacy / Sherrie Levine / Sharon Lockhart / Yoko Ono / Laura Owens / Ree Morton / Sophie Nys / Howardena Pindell / Adrian Piper / Christina Quarles / Pipilotti Rist / Martha Rosler / Cindy Sherman / Mieko Shiomi / Laurie Simmons / Carolee Schneemann / Frances Stark / Alexis Smith / Kaari Upson

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