At the Seattle Asian Art Museum, Women's Paintings from the Land of Sita delves into the work of nine Indian women painting in the distinctive Mithila style of their region.
An artistic transformation took place among women living in a cluster of villages in Bihar, northeastern India, once high-quality paper became available to them in the 1960s. In the Mithila region—the region that was home to Sita, heroine of the Ramayana—women maintained a long tradition of painting the walls and floors of their households with auspicious diagrams and deities. As women began adapting traditional imagery and painting new subjects on paper, the work in their distinctive regional style was seen outside their immediate environment for the first time.
This exhibition of 30 paintings from a private collection includes works by 9 exceptional women artists from these villages. Their work became known in India's cities within a couple of years, and connections to the international art world followed in the 1970s and 1980s. Their innovations and individual styles are introduced in the first grouping of art within the exhibition. Two groundbreaking series of narrative paintings are also featured: one depicting episodes from the artist Lalita Devi's own life, and another series is by Baua Devi, based on a local legend of snake spirits (nagas). The progress of the artists' work from this distinctive area—or "Land of Sita"—reflects some of the changes taking place in their lives and of many women elsewhere.
–Sarah Loudon, guest curator
In Where Have They Been? Two Overlooked Chinese Female Artists, the works of nonagenarians Ch'ung-ho Chang Frankel and Lu Wujiu give voice to two artists who prioritized the work of their husbands and sacrificed their own.
Having prioritized the careers of their husbands and moved with them for new opportunities, both artists have been overlooked and marginalized by the art world, despite favorable reviews by knowledgeable critics. Yet neither artist is concerned with gender issues in the arts, and each expresses their distinctive training and style—the former being a classically trained calligrapher steeped in traditions of Chinese art and the latter being an abstract painter schooled in America from 1959–60. Chang the calligrapher also painted, and Lu the painter also experimented with calligraphy. In both cases, the "artists' voices" and choice of subjects are entirely personal and unique.
–Josh Yiu, Foster Foundation Curator of Chinese Art
In Tooba, Iranian-American Shirin Neshat offers a poetic narrative about individual and collective identity in this mesmerizing video installation.