Women & Their Work Celebrates 40 Years

Women and Their Work (W&TW) will be hosting a spring tour-de-force to celebrate 40 years of representing women in the art world.

The nonprofit organization is celebrating their forefront in the Austin arts community through exhibitions, performances, and a benefit on April 14, 2018. For four decades, the gallery has promoted the contemporary art of women in a market that hasn’t always allowed them that opportunity.

W&TW was founded in 1978 when Austin had only one museum and women artists were undervalued. The nonprofit pioneered a cultural experience for the community by educating audiences of all ages about the excellence of art by women. Since 1986, W&TW has reached out to underdeveloped schools through their comprehensive education program. It has also developed the careers of more than 1,900 artists in 310 visual art exhibitions, 124 dance, theater, and music performances, 15 film festivals, 28 literary performances, 115 publications, and 620 educational workshops by equipping them with a financial and technical support system. The institution has presented hundreds of visual art exhibitions, theater events, literary readings, and film festivals.

W&TW chooses artists based on their potential to create new, innovative work as opposed to galleries that solely look at their past. Executive Director Chris Cowden says this artist-centered approach allows artists to move their career forward how they want to define it.

“We really take a chance on artists,” said Cowden. “We ask them to be fearless and ambitious. We really challenge the artist and in every occasion they rise to meet and exceed our expectations.”

As a nationally recognized gallery, W&TW was the first organization in Texas to receive a grant in visual art from the National Endowment for the Arts and was asked to participate in the Warhol Initiative in 2001. The nonprofit organization has also been featured on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, and in both Art in America and ArtForum.

One Exhibition of Many

Rachel Stuckey (rachelstuckey.net) is a moving image artist and self-taught coder whose exhibition Good Days & Bad Days on the Internet is currently on display at W&TW. Stuckey works with video and media to explain technology’s influence on society. 1980s computer aesthetics and unusual digital content inspire the exhibition to transition from parody to dark abstraction.

Good Days & Bad Days on the Internet represents the feeling people experience through technology. The exhibition captures the heavily fluctuating emotions between receiving an e-mail to having a cracked screen. Stuckey wants audiences to interact with her work with different levels of engagement.

W&TW provided Stuckey with a stipend and allowed her to hire a territorial adviser, not an adviser that would influence the look and feel of how her work was installed. Since W&TW is a nonprofit, there is no pressure to sell artwork. Every artist is filmed explaining their work for audiences “They’ve been wonderfully supportive,” Stuckey said about working with W&TW. “It’s nice to have such a large space and one that is so flexible.”

Here’s to 40 More Years of Great Work

W&TW continues to celebrate promoting women artists like Stuckey for their 40th anniversary. During the event new artists will be presenting their work with a variety of mediums. The exhibitions will range from tech-heavy to ancient techniques with solar paper. There will also be performances and panel discussions to talk about women’s role in modern art.

“Women, women of color, and women who are queer are still having trouble getting shows and equal pay,” Stuckey said. She went on to explain that W&TW is important because they give these women a platform; picking risky artists who may have political messages or artwork that is difficult to install. “It just takes pressure off the artist. Needs are met with a stipend to go wild without worrying, ‘Would this look good in someone’s living room?’”

The theme of this year’s benefit is “I am Art.” Suggested attire for the evening is enchantment, drawing inspiration from mirrors and metallic. VIP reception is from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The party is open to all ticket holders from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Guests can purchase tickets starting at $200 and will go on sale soon at womenandtheirwork.org.

Rachel Stamford is a junior currently studying journalism with a double minor in political science and cinema studies at the University of Central Florida. She is an editing intern at Professional Artist magazine and freelances her writing to various news organizations.

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