It’s a blast. A blast from a not-so feminist past. For the next few weeks at the Glassell Gallery, an older generation of female artists will be celebrated.
“Finding Our Place: Women in the Arts 1983-1990” is now open to the public, and University students are encouraged to visit. The exhibit will be on display from Jan. 26 to Feb. 24.
The exhibit features artists from the the Association of Women in the Arts. It’s meant as a sort of reunion for members who were there at the beginning of the organization, a way to show respect for Baton Rouge trailblazers.
The exhibit, curated by Mary Pramuk, displays work from 23 artists, in a variety of styles. Artists got to choose which ones to display, most choosing a combination of old and new work. The art ranges from landscapes to portrait, from technical to emotional styles said Kristin Krolak, director of LSU School of Art Galleries.
“It’s everything — portraits, everything you can think of, but it’s all very beautiful and vivacious and it’s really great," Krolak said. "It’s a really cool show if you get a chance to check it out. It just zings. All these different people’s points of views, they make a really good harmony together. It’s a beautiful show and it’s really exciting to see everyone.”
AWA, formed in 1984 after the 1983 First Annual Exhibition of Louisiana Women Artists, was a crucial resource for female artists who needed opportunities and platforms to showcase their work. Krolak said that it was a refuge for women who weren’t often seen as real artists.
“For some reason people didn’t take them seriously," Krolak said. "These were people who were serious artists, they really wanted to make a living as artists. In fact, most of the people in the show are still working as artists.”
Working in a time that wasn’t as friendly toward female artists, AWA was both a support network for women as well as an important force for the local art scene. AWA advocated for work made by women to be used in museums, and created exhibits for women to display their art.
AWA also collaborated with other organizations to promote the arts and worked on local art projects. Krolak said the AWA helped to promote equality and showcase Baton Rouge talent.
“There’s a lot of successful artists of both genders now, and I think a lot of this groundwork for women was laid by these intrepid women 30 years ago," Krolak said. :I just think it’s exciting. A lot of people underestimate the amount of talent in Baton Rouge."
Krolak wants to bring attention to these artists, saying that efforts like theirs have helped greatly in making local art scenes more inclusive. Now that art exhibits are more likely to accept work from both men and women, she says it’s important to acknowledge those who worked to be seen.
“It’s changing now, and at some point, we won’t have to have shows that are women shows because they’ll show all the artists in the same light,” Krolak said. “We’re in a transitional period, so I just wanted to give some respect to these ladies who were badasses.”