On Exhibit September 3–December 30, 2019
In 1971, American art historian and feminist critic Linda Nochlin signaled a disturbing trend in her acclaimed essay, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” Institutional blockages to women’s success—from patronage, to selective omission, to embedded market practices favoring male counterparts—kept women from their rightful place in the visual arts. But the Sisyphean hurdles facing women today are just as difficult to surmount as they were forty years ago. In fact, a survey conducted earlier this year found that only 13% of artists represented in the permanent collections of prominent U.S. art museums were women, only 15% were non-white.
This exhibit draws its name from the oft-repeated meme that emerged in the wake of U.S. Representative Maxine Waters’ public insistence that her voice be heard and respected by her male peers. It was created to address inequalities in the voices we hear and the lack of diversity in the images we see by recognizing the work of female artists working in the regional South. The artists of Reclaiming My Time bring a range of practices to the fore, challenging and asking difficult questions of their social, political and natural environment. As arts professionals and the public, we need to match this effort—continue to take chances and embrace unknown and emerging artists early and often in their careers. We should not settle for institutions or spaces of art that do not raise the bar for themselves in this day and age.
My advice to women working in the arts today: It is a changed world, where there are more women receiving training than men, where the digital landscape of Instagram, Facebook and Etsy reveal women as a dominant force. We need to continue to get out of our comfort zone to support, patron and engage other women in our practice. We need to hold galleries and institutions accountable that fail to include a good percentage of women and diverse artists on their roster or that only seek our diverse perspective when obligated by granting institutions. Our strength is in our numbers; but, our success is in never being complacent.
–Roxana Pérez-Méndez, Reclaiming My Time curator
Roxana Pérez-Méndez is a video performance and installation artist who creates work about the slippery nature of contemporary history and identity through the lens of her own experience as a Puerto Rican woman. Pérez-Méndez also collaborates with fellow artist and colleague, Mario Marzan. Their joint effort, CAMPO RESEARCH STUDIO, is a collaborative process that fosters the integration of nature and art through research, public engagement and education. They utilize the intersection of the arts, geography and history as a catalyst for social dialogue and creative exchange of ideas. Pérez-Mendez holds a BFA from The Ohio State University and a MFA from Tyler School of Art and is currently an associate professor of art at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Reclaiming My Time is presented in partnership with the Visual Art Exchange as part of an ongoing program to feature the work of artists living and working in North Carolina.