600 Female Artists Took the Brooklyn Museum by Storm This Weekend

Deborah Kass, Kalup Linzy, and Marilyn Minter were in attendance.

Now Be Here #2, NYC, 2016. Courtesy Paola kudacki. Courtesy Kim Schoenstadt, Shinique Smith, and the Brooklyn Museum.

On Sunday morning, at the invitation of artist Shinique Smith, 600 female and female-identifying artists converged at the Brooklyn Museum for a group photograph.

The event, titled Now Be Here, took its cue from a similar photo op that capped off Hauser, Wirth, & Schimmel’s inaugural exhibition on female abstract sculptors in Los Angeles earlier this summer. At the behest of artist Kim Schoenstadt, north of 700 West Coast-based artists, including Catherine Opie and Barbara Smith, gathered for the scene.

Carmen Hermo, a curator for the Brooklyn Museum’s Sackler Center for Feminist Art, pitched the idea to her directors after Schoenstadt executed the image. With the museum’s “Year of Yes” initiative, a confluence of events celebrating women in the arts (which includes the center’s 10th anniversary and Marilyn Minter’s forthcoming retrospective, “Pretty/Dirty”), Hermo’s idea to recreate the portrait was approved.

Hermo told artnet News in a phone conversation that the East Coast version counted Mickalene Thomas, Kalup Linzy, Deborah Kass, and Marilyn Minter herself among its ranks. “You can tell the artist’s idea of sharing through real networks paid off,” Hermo said. “Seeing the success of Kim’s event in Los Angeles, I felt it was important to help spread this gesture—where women artists come together to stand up and be counted.”

Shinique Smith and Kim Schoenstadt. Courtesy Brooklyn Museum.

Shinique Smith and Kim Schoenstadt. Courtesy Brooklyn Museum.

“[We] realiz[ed] that Kim’s project resonated with the Museum’s ‘Year of Yes’ initiative celebrating and really unpacking feminist art practice,” Hermo continued. “Dana Gluck and I worked together with Kim and Shinique to bring the portrait to New York in order to highlight the networks and histories of our local art ecosystem.”

Hermo and Gluck’s decision to organize the event plays into a recent trend of museum-led community projects. In September, artist Simone Leigh, in collaboration with the New Museum (where she was holding a summer-long residency), planned an evening intervention called “Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter.” Programming for the night, which included performances, participatory exchanges, and healing workshops, among other activities, attracted over one hundred artists to the Bowery’s space.

“It’s important, I think, for institutions to reach beyond their planned programs or exhibitions to become more open to community-based activity,” Hermo said. “A little flexibility goes a long way in opening the museum up as a collective space and resource for inspiration.”

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