Visitors at the Columbia Museum of Art walk through the exhibition. (Photos by Bridget Frame)
The Columbia Museum of Art has a new exhibition showcasing the often-overlooked work of female artists.
Our Own Work, Our Own Way features 42 female artists from the South. The show aims to highlight the work and talent of these artists during a time that didn’t always recognize them. The title of the exhibition comes from a quote by the late American sufferagist Susan B. Anthony that reads, “So let us do our own work, and in our own way.”
The art shown in this exhibition, which opened Jan. 21, comes from the Johnson Collection, a private collection in Spartanburg.
The Johnson Collection collection since 2002 has focused on collecting, curating and showing art from the South as a way of preserving the diverse voices of the area.
The exhibition, curated by the Johnson Collection’s Susanna Johnson Shannon and Carter Lee Johnson, focuses on female artists from the 1930s to the 1990s.
“As the coordinating curator for the CMA’s presentation, I thought carefully about the kinds of themes these artists engaged, and the art historical sources they acknowledged in creating their work,” said museum curator Michael Neumeister.
Well-known names in art are combined with more obscure artists, which has brought in larger audiences.
“The public reception has been amazing thus far,” Neumeister said. “I think that’s because there are some major names in this exhibition, like Anni Albers and Emma Amos, shown alongside lesser-known artists, like Maud Gatewood and Karen Karnes.”
The Columbia museum has focused on highlighting diversity within art in a variety of exhibits. Past exhibits include 30 Americans, which showcased contemporary art from 30 Black artists, and Hindsight 20/20, which displayed the work of five photographers from the Carolinas who documented the country’s tumultuous events of 2020.
The show is still attracting people’s attention more than a month after it opened
“I just really like how dynamic it is,” said gallery attendant Evan May.
A multitude of art styles, even though they were all created by women from the South, make up the exhibition. Still lifes, portraits, abstract and contemporary work are just some of the types of art shown
“The show is organized thematically according to subject matter,” Neumeister said. “It begins with portraiture and works through loosely defined sections that explore landscape and still life, culminating in total abstraction.”
The exhibition will be on display until May 21.