The Every Woman Biennial Champions More Than 200 Artists. Here’s a Look Inside

Pieces by Swoon, Pussy Riot, and many others are on offer at the event, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Michele Pred, Love as Activism, (2022), a neon red heart surrounding a pink fist lights up La MaMa’s street window 24-hours a day setting the Biennial tone

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, run—don’t walk—to see the latest iteration of the “Every Woman Biennial,” which is as dynamic, fascinating, and just plain fun as ever. The show, formerly known as the Whitney Houston Biennial and now in its fifth edition, closes Sunday.

The female and non-binary art festival features 200 contemporary artists whose works are hung in a salon-style exhibition, as well as a slate of performances. The 2024 exhibition’s title, “I Will Always Love You,” continues its homage to Whitney Houston’s music, and includes work by stars like Michele Pred, Pussy Riot/Nadya Tolokonnikova, Phoebe Legere, Swoon, and many more.

Image courtesy Every Woman Biennial

The wide-ranging material on view includes paintings, prints, textiles, and video. Pred’s eye-catching Love as Activism (2022), a neon-red heart surrounding a pink fist, lights up La MaMa’s street window and is visible to passersby. Pussy Riot/Nadya Tolokonnikova’s Holy Squirt (2023) is a pink and glittered take on a holy water fountain, inviting all to be “conceptually baptized” in the Holy Rainbow Church of Matriarchy (matriarchy is a theme explored by several artists in the show).

A dedicated section of the gallery also includes specially created (and very affordable) talismans by each artist that in many cases derive from or expand on the nearby works, many of which have already found buyers.

The show, which launched on March 2 and drew an opening night crowd of roughly 2,000, is marking its closing weekend with high-energy performances with music, dancers from the Metropolitan Opera, and a mixed-reality “rock opera” from Erin Ko and Kanami Kusajima.

An artwork made of a holy water dispenser covered with pink paint and glitter

Pussy Riot/ Nadya Tolokonnikova, Holy Squirt, (2023) at the Every Woman Biennial.

The show is co-curated by a team that includes founder C. Finley, executive director and producer Molly Caldwell, artistic director Eddy Segal, and gallery and production manager Jerelyn Huber.

When the show started in 2014, it was an organic response to create a place for women artists not being equally represented in exhibitions and biennials.

C. Finley was asked by friends what she would do if she ran a biennial and she responded: “I’d make it all women!” Segal had the idea to name it the Whitney Houston Biennial. A one-night show  was organized in which women came together in a Brooklyn loft, hung their artworks, and made impromptu performances for hundreds of friends and fans.

Kariny Padilla, <i>Guilty of Nothing</i> (2024). Image courtesy of the artist and Every Woman Biennial.

Kariny Padilla, Guilty of Nothing (2024). Image courtesy of the artist and Every Woman Biennial.

Two years later, the show was timed to coincide with the Whitney Biennial, and was expanded to a full exhibition of women and non-binary artists in a downtown gallery, with work selected from an open call. The event have continued to be presented in New York since then and has expanded to sister cities—Los Angeles in 2019 and London in 2021.

Identity and gender fluidity, social and racial justice, women’s rights, and flipping the stereotypes of “women’s work” are focuses of many of the artists’ pieces, which provide representations of their daily lives, bodies, desires, and traumas. Many also immortalize those they cherish—friends, lovers, mothers, grandmothers, mentors, and icons.

The show continues through Sunday March 24 at La MaMa Galleria at 47 Great Jones Street, New York.

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