'Women to Watch — Ohio' Exhibition Opens at CIA This Weekend


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The days of the Cleveland Institute of Arts’s Gund Building are numbered. With the campus set to unify next fall, the building will permanently close at the end of this school year. While this year’s BFA Thesis Exhibitions are still to come, the final exhibition in the Gund’s Reinberger Galleries features five women artists living and working in Northeast Ohio. Stop by for the opening reception of Women to Watch – Ohio this Thursday, Apr. 2 from 6 to 9 p.m.

“Cleveland Institute of Art was founded in 1882 as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women and has educated generations of accomplished women artists since then,” explains CIA President Grafton Nunes. “It is particularly fitting that CIA is co-sponsoring this exhibition, which showcases five women artists, highlights the hurdles that women artists face, and aligns with a significant exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington."

Participating artists include Christi Birchfield, Mimi Kato, Eva Kwong, Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson and Lauren Yeager. Birchfield and Yeager graduated from CIA in 2006 and 2009, respectively. The artists work in a wide variety of media including drawing, painting, photography, ceramics, tapestry, mixed media and installation.

“Given that some 51% of visual artists today are women, why is it that only 5% of work on American museum walls is by women and work by women makes up only 5% of major permanent collections in the United States and Europe,” asks assistant curator of Women to Watch – Ohio Jen Rokoski. “In Northeast Ohio there are many female artists who are nationally and internationally successful in their work as they continually push the boundaries of contemporary art. Their success deserves more recognition.”

The exhibition is presented in partnership with the Ohio Advisory Group of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

“It is wonderful to see so many prominent arts institutions in Cleveland working together to showcase Women to Watch – Ohio,” says Harriet Warm, founder and co-chair of the Ohio Advisory Group of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. “The association with NMWA and the international Women to Watch exhibition in Washington, DC brings additional visibility and prestige to the project.”

“We’re organizing this exhibition because women have been under recognized in exhibitions in this region and nationally, and this is an important effort to show the significance of their contributions,” adds Reinberger Galleries Director Checefsky. “These particular women artists represent the very best artists in the region and have reputations that extend nationally and globally.”

“Women to Watch – Ohio also marks the finale of the Institute’s year-long Community Works series, which included visiting artists, new courses, and exhibitions that broadened participation in the civic arena, and encouraged artists to use design and the arts to raise awareness of and educate the public about positive civic engagement and social change,” adds Checefsky. “By bringing in visiting artists and speakers who represent a variety of perspectives and backgrounds, we examine how artists and designers effectively partner with other individuals, neighborhood groups, grassroots organizations, and institutions in the development and realization of innovative, community-based projects that enhance the quality of life for constituencies.”

Next week’s Lunch on Fridays lecture at Cleveland Institute of Art features a special panel discussion with all five participating artists of Women to Watch. The panel discussion begins at 12:15 p.m. Friday, Apr. 10. Pizza and beverages will be provided at the panel discussion.

Women to Watch runs through May 2. The exhibition and related events are free and open to the public.

(Cleveland Institute of Art) 11141 East Blvd., 800-223-4700, cia.edu

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