Women’s bodies — nude, adorned, eroticized, abstracted — figure prominently in the history of art. Yet the art of women’s health is shockingly new.
The very concept of women’s health did not begin to take shape until the early 1970s, with the groundbreaking publication of the book Our Bodies, Ourselves, and “women’s health” did not appear as a subject in the Index Medicus, the massive, worldwide bibliographic listing of medical journal articles, until 1991.
This month, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum is presenting Inside Out Loud: Visualizing Women’s Health in Contemporary Art, the first major museum-level exhibition dedicated to the topic.
“Inside Out Loud traces the emergence of representations of women’s health in American art beginning around 1980, across the 1990s, and into the present in works by both male and female artists,” said guest curator Janine Mileaf, assistant professor of art history at Swarthmore College. “Rather than standing as an object of visual fascination, the female body in these artworks becomes a generating force that spurs artistic and conceptual innovations.”
Sabine Eckmann, Ph.D., curator of the Kemper Art Museum, added that, by highlighting the role of artists in the formation of the field of women’s health, “Inside Out Loud demonstrates that art and culture really matter. These kinds of visual representation make us conscious of issues that affect us daily.”
Inside Out Loud features approximately 50 artworks in a variety of traditional and cutting-edge media by more than 30 internationally known artists and artists’ groups.
These include Ida Applebroog, Sadie Benning, Maureen Connor, Mark Dion, J. Morgan Puett, Jeanne Dunning, Nan Goldin, Gran Fury, Lynn Hershman, Kathy High, Mamie Holst, Jenny Holzer, Nina Katchadourian, Barbara Kruger, Zoe Leonard, Kerry James Marshall, Sarah McEneaney, Orlan, Tony Oursler, Faith Ringgold, Martha Rosler, Donna Schu-macher, Cindy Sherman, Kather-ine Sherwood, Kiki Smith, Ellen Spiro, Elisabeth Subrin, Tran, T. Kim-Trang and Hannah Wilke.
In addition, the show features one new work designed specifically for this show, the video installation Mood Swings by Victoria Vesna.
The exhibition opens with a reception from 6-8 p.m. today and will remain on view through April 24.
Before the opening, Mileaf will host a panel discussion on “Art, Politics and the Body: A Conversation With Artists Zoe Leonard, Orlan, Katherine Sherwood and Tran, T. Kim-Trang” from 4-6 p.m., followed by a performance of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Lives by That Uppity Theater Company from 6:15-7 p.m.
In conjunction with Inside Out Loud, more than 30 campus and community partners will present some 60 related events, ranging from lectures, concerts, exhibitions and theatrical performances to health seminars and screenings.
To request a copy of Inside Out Loud: Guide to Community Events Exploring Women’s Health, contact Stephanie Parrish (935-7918; email@example.com.
The full-color exhibition catalog, Inside Out Loud: Women’s Health in Contemporary Art, features a central essay by Mileaf, “The Subjects of Women’s Health,” and a forward by Mark S. Weil, Ph.D., the E. Desmond Lee Professor for Collaboration in the Arts and director of both the Kemper Art Museum and the Sam Fox Arts Center.
The volume also includes a 10-page timeline — organized by Barbara Baumgartner, Ph.D., associate director of the Program in Women and Gender Studies in Arts & Sciences — of women’s health over the last 400 years; excerpts from Catherine Lord’s online diary The Summer of Her Baldness: A Cancer Improvisation; and the first English translation of a 1991 interview with artist and activist Zoe Leonard.
Inside Out Loud is published by the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum and designed by Heather Corcoran, assistant professor of visual communications and principal of Plum Studios. It retails for $25, and is available through the Kemper Art Museum, the Campus Store and area booksellers.
The Kemper Art Museum’s regular hours are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Fridays; and noon-4:30 p.m. on weekends. The museum is closed Mondays.
The exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information, call 935-4523.