High Fiber—Women to Watch 2012

High Fiber was the third installment in NMWA’s biennial exhibition series that features emerging artists from the states and countries in which the museum has outreach committees. This exhibition illuminates the centrality of textiles to contemporary artistic practice. Prior to the 1960s, textiles were consigned to the "low" world of craft, frequently categorized as “women’s work,” and constrained by social dynamics that included race as well as gender. Because of textiles’ potent reference to the domestic sphere, contemporary artists often incorporate fibers to sharpen the visual and emotional impact of their conceptual works. The seven artists or artist collectives featured in High Fiber stitch, weave, knit, crochet, and wind fabric, felt, yarn, ribbon, wire, and single strands of silk organza into expressive forms that allude to nature, relationships, and the pleasure of making.

The artists selected from a shortlist of 5 to represent the UK for this exhibition are the collective Prick Your Finger. According to Kathryn Wat, Curator of Contemporary Art at the NMWA, “This group’s technical virtuosity, activist outlook, and collaborative spirit exemplify the inventive work being done by textile-centered artists in the UK. ” We are delighted with this choice and to highlight their participation we had a 3 day show from 19-22 September at Riflemaker.

Rachael Matthews was able to attend the opening at the Museum in Washington, DC, and here are two images:


Rachel Matthews at NMWA for High Fiber opening  Rachel Matthews at NMWA for High Fiber opening

Women to Watch 2010

The UK Friends of NMWA are pleased to announce that Rose Wylie, proposed by the UK committee in 2009, was selected by Kathryn Wat, NMWA’s Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art,  to represent the UK in the Women to Watch exhibition to be held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC in July 2010. Drawing inspiration from NMWA’s recent exhibition of works by Paula Rego, the theme of Women to Watch 2010 is contemporary figurative painting.Working closely with museum and gallery curators, each committee nominates five contemporary artists in a defined medium for consideration. This year Sheena Wagstaff, Chief Curator at Tate Modern, assisted the UK committee in its selection process.  Five UK-based artists were shortlisted for participation and their work was exhibited in a display titled “The Figure Re-Figured,” at Christies, King Street, in September 2009. The other four shortlisted artists included in this display were Anna Bjerger, Kaye Donachie, Chantal Joffe and Veronica Smirnoff. Rose Wylie makes large-scale paintings and drawings that feature familiar forms drawn from sources as varied as Egyptian painting, sports and film stars. Painted with raw brushstrokes in a spontaneous and exaggeratedly naïve style, her figures seem to carry the simplicity and innocence of children's art. Upon closer inspection the depth of imagery with its different styles and textures makes the experience increasingly complex both materially and stylistically. Rose Wylie (b 1933) received her MA from the Royal College of Art in 1981. She has been nominated for numerous prizes, including the Jerwood Painting Prize in 1997 and the Threadneedle Prize in 2009. She is currently featured in a solo exhibition at UNION Gallery (www.union-gallery.com) where she is represented in London. Rose Wylie lives and works in Kent.

Rose Wylie Sitting on a Bench with Border 2008 Oil on canvas 282 x 244 cm Courtesy the artist and UNION, London


Women to Watch 2008

The artist selected from the UK in 2008 was Elisa Sighicelli, who was represented at the Museum by two of her works from a series she produced in Shanghai.

UK Friends of the NMWA were delighted that London based photographer Elisa Sighicelli, proposed by UK Friends of the NMWA in late 2006, was selected by the NMWA's Head Curator Susan Fisher Sterling for exhibition in March 2008.

Elisa Sighicelli, born in Turin, in 1968, received her MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art in London, where she lives and works today. Sighicelli explores ordinary scenes and objects through video and photography, drawing special attention to light in both its literal and depicted forms. The two photographs selected for the exhibition “Women to Watch” were from a series she produced in Shanghai of lighted advertising billboards. The products that are ordinarily promoted on these enormous screens have been edited out, leaving an abstract pattern of neon light in a gridded rectangular frame. The contrast between the monumental, rectilinear images and the shadows of cheap, commercial products draws attention to the hollow, perfect ordinariness of the structure.

Sighicelli’s photographs, while produced in editions, are unique by virtue of the artist’s thoughtful placement of neon light bulbs behind the surface of each photograph. In this way, she alters the appearance of particular areas of the image, allowing light to become more or less illusionistic or real. The lightboxes give the works the quality of being both an object (the visible electrical cord stressing its functionality) and depicted image at the same time.

Elisa Sighicelli has exhibited in a wide variety of public institutions in countries ranging from her native Italy to Australia and Israel. This exhibition at the NMWA was her first exposure in the United States at a major public venue.

Two photographs by Elisa Sighicelli.

Elisa Sighacelli Untitled (Blue), 2006 Partially backlit C-print on lightbox, 35.4 x 48.4 x 2 in. (90 x 123 x 5 cm) SIGHI 2006.0002.

Elisa Sighacelli, Untitled (White), 2006 Partially backlit C-print on lightbox, 48 x 48 x 2.4 in. (122 x 122 x 6 cm) SIGHI 2006.0001



UK Friends of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (“UK Friends of NMWA”) supports the mission of NMWA by championing art by women in the UK, past and present.


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