5 Women Artists

Walk into some art museums, and you are much more likely to see a woman depicted in a work of art than see a piece created by a woman. By some estimates, over 50% of visual artists are women, but less than 5% of the artists featured in the world’s most popular art museums are female. While history and society continue to consider great artists to be men, here are a few of the women artists who have broken the glass ceiling and are currently on view at MAG. Three of these five are Rochester artists: Sarah C. Rutherford, Kathy Calderwood, and Olivia Kim.

Kathy Calderwood

Cathy Calderwood

On view in the Wilson Gallery

Rochester artist Kathy Calderwood brings a pop-culture sensibility to her version of a 19th-century trompe l’oeil (“fool the eye”) painting. William Harnett (1848-1892), cited in the title of her work, was an American artist known for his realistic depictions of still-life elements such as musical instruments, stacks of books, hunting equipment, and sometimes dead game. Here Calderwood provides a plucked Donald Duck, accompanied by an unlucky rabbit, half a banana, a wad of bubble gum, and a newspaper’s comics pages.  Calderwood’s modern references are as familiar to modern audiences as Harnett’s original still-life subjects would have been in his era.

Shown:After Harnett, 1976

Olivia Kim

Olivia Kim's Frederick Douglass

Her work is currently on view in the Vanden Brul Pavilion.

Olivia’s art is inspired by the Lightness of Being. She specializes in Body Movement.

“I have observed that the emotional and psychological constitution of a person is directly linked to that individual’s movement vocabulary. Aside from studying anatomy and biomechanics which are theoretical, I practice many types of dance from contemporary to social, in order to develop a living biokinetic (movement) lexicon within my own body. Through my direct experience of movement, I am able to relate the visceral experience of my subjects. My sculptures seek to convey the ever-changing architecture of the human being.”

Shown: Frederick Douglass Monument, 14, 2019.

Sarah C. Rutherford

Sarah Rutherford

On view in the Hurlbut Gallery

Sarah C. Rutherford began Her Voice Carries in Rochester, New York as a way to give public accolades to local women who are lifting up the voices of others. It was also born out of a desire to build connections across the different sections of Rochester and to shift the representation of women in public space.  For the initial iteration, Rutherford completed five outdoor murals across the five sections of Rochester and one indoor mural at MAG.

Shown: detail, Her Voice carries: Prelude, 2018

 Judith Schaechter

Judith Schaechter

Judith Schaechter has stretched the medium of stained glass into a potent and incisive art form for the 21st century, boldly paving her path in the diverse arena of contemporary art. Her work is represented in over a dozen museums including the Museum of Art and Design, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Toledo Museum of Art, and in major exhibitions around the world.

The Path to Paradise is the first survey and major scholarly assessment of this groundbreaking artist’s 37-year career. Organized by the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, the exhibition will be on view in Rochester from February 15 through May 24, 2020, after which it will travel to two additional venues in the United States. Drawn from both private and institutional collections, The Path to Paradise will feature approximately 45 of Judith Schaechter’s stained-glass panels along with a selection of related drawings and process materials.
shown: Judith Schaechter, Agnus Dei 1, 2007

Mickalene Thomas

Mickalene Thomas American, 1971 -  Portrait of Qusuquzah #6, 2015

On view in the Forman Gallery

New-York-based artist Mickalene Thomas is best known for her elaborate paintings composed of rhinestones, acrylic, and oil enamel. Her work introduces a complex vision of what it means to be a woman and expands common definitions of beauty.

Thomas’s paintings are based on photographic portraits of models whose qualities allow her to articulate and explore questions of beauty, power, sexuality, and femininity. 

Portrait of Qusuquzah #6, 2015