|A.I.R. GALLERY - Celebrating 40 years of advocating for women in the visual arts.|
Bios of A.I.R. Founders & Early Artists
written & compiled by Lizy Dastin and Zoe Clark with a contribution on Rachel bas-Cohain by Jennifer Cawley
Dotty Attie (b. 1938)
Dotty Attie—painter, photographer and printmaker—is widely recognized for her voyeuristic reproductions of iconic images accompanied with evocative text. Since the early 1970s, Attie has drawn upon images from historical paintings and popular culture, recontextualizing them into her own dry and ironic narratives. Referencing works by well-known artists such as Courbet and Ingres, Attie’s multi-panel paintings invite us to think critically about depictions of the female body in the history of art. According to Art in America, "Dotty Attie dedicates herself to the exquisite mimicry of the old master's suaveness of facture and evenness of the hand. Her aim is to achieve a narrative effect to suggest the almost illicit excitement of the viewer in the act of perception. Beyond its actual story content, Attie's narrative paintings imply a deeply voyeuristic gaze whose target is trapped in a small rectangle of painted matter." Attie’s most recent solo exhibition was in 2007 at P.P.O.W. Gallery. In this series, she appropriates images from war footage to celebrity images to her own home snap shots. Attie has been exhibiting in museums and galleries worldwide since 1972. Her paintings are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum among others.
Dotty Attie was a member of A.I.R. from its inception in 1972 until 1988.
Agnes Denes (b. 1931)
Agnes Denes is both an artist and a scholar of international renown. One of the originators of Conceptual art, Denes is well-versed in physical and social sciences, philosophy, linguistics, psychology, art history, poetry and music and has transformed these academic explorations into unique and sensitive works of visual art. Denes was one of the first artists to explore the interaction between art and science in visual culture. Her work confronts ecological, cultural and social issues and is often monumental in scale. Denes has also written four books, holds a doctorate in fine arts and lectures at universities all over the world. She has had over 300 solo exhibitions, including one during the first few months of the founding of A.I.R. Gallery. Her work contributes to the collection of numerous museums, such as: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Isreal Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Agnes Denes was a member of A.I.R from its inception in 1972 until (?).
Mary Beth Edelson (b. 1935)
Mary Beth Edelson received her B.A. in 1955 from DePauw University and her M.F.A. from New York University in 1959. Edelson’s art production consists of a hybrid of diverse media including: photo-based work, painting, sculpture, drawing, performance, silk screen, artists’ books, posters, fabric works, collages, story-gathering boxes, video and installation. The selection of materials and production methods are determined by what is appropriate for that particular project. Edelson’s work is rooted in feminism, political activism, collaboration, and public participation. A feminist, her work focuses on a female-centered spirituality based on Jungian archetypes. In 1977, Edelson traveled to a cave in Hvar Island, Yugoslavia, where she began her ritual performances. Three years later, she returned to painting and now lives in New York. She has been featured in over 30 art books and her work is widely exhibited and critiqued in the U.S. and abroad in the diverse literature of psychology, women’s studies, feminist theory, photography, theology and art. Edelson’s art has been collected by numerous museums including: the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Corcoran Gallery and the Walker Art Center. She is a prominent lecturer and has written four books, the most recent of which is The Art of Mary Beth Edelson.
Mary Beth Edelson was a member of A.I.R. from 1975 until 1983.
Mary Grigoriadis (b. 1942)
Mary Grigoriadis is regarded as a key figure in the Pattern and Decoration movement. Her work was included in the first major exhibition of the genre, “Pattern Painting”, at P.S. #1 in 1977, curated by John Perreault, Her early pieces, “secular icons”, were re-plete with a panoply of historical and cultural references and motifs, from Byzantine to American Indian to Islamic forms. They were grouped with the work of other cultural feminists who also celebrated women’s traditional crafts. Grigoriadis’ paintings are highly structured, richly colored, multilayered oils on raw linen. They were described by Hayden Herrera in Art in America as “...mixing unruly ornateness with compulsive con-trol” and ...”as precious and ritualistic as medieval cloisonne enamel reliquaries, while daring to be as gaudy as Tiffany lamps...these paintings shake with life.” Grigoriadis describes her work as a paean to beauty, opulence and order. She continues to ex-periment with pattern in her highly structured architecturally inspired Portal Series and to celebrate the decorative without apology. A founding member of A.I.R., her work has been widely exhibited worldwide including at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Museum. It is represented in numerous public collections including the Virginia Museum of Fine Art and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Mary Grigoriadis was a member of A.I.R. from its inception in 1972 until 1990.
Harmony Hammond (b. 1944)
Harmony Hammond, artist, art critic and independent curator, said of A.I.R. Gallery, “For me, this is not a stepping-stone, but an end in itself.” (Ms. Magazine, Feb. 1973) Her artistic oeuvre—comprised of abstract paintings, fabric and bronze sculptures, mixed-media tableaux and site-specific installations—is certainly extensive and known for making political commentary on intolerance and censorship. Hammond has had over 30 solo exhibitions throughout her career, three of which were held at A.I.R. She is currently represented by Dwight Hackett projects, Santa Fe and is a Graduate Professor of History and Theory of Art at the University of Arizona (Tucson). Hammond’s work is part of the fabric of dozens of museums’ permanent collections, including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center and the Art Institute of Chicago. She has published at length on art and feminism and her 2000 book, Lesbian Art in America: A Contemporary History (Rizzoli) was recognized with a Lambda Literary Award.
Harmony Hammond was a member of A.I.R. from its inception in 1972 until 1985.
Ana Mendieta (1948 –1985)
Mendieta was born in Havana, Cuba but moved to Iowa at the age of 13 to escape the destructive political climate. Much of her work is governed by a theme of transitions, similar to the cultural conversion she made from Cuba to the Midwest. This move also serves as a foundation for her preoccupation with the role she played within society and nature. Another theme Mendieta frequently explored is that of fierce political and feminist activism. Through her performance art, for example, Mendieta confronted the violence afflicted on the female body by drenching herself in significant quantities of animal blood. Later, Mendieta moved toward leaving her mark on the environment, most notably in her silueta pieces which typically involve carving her imprint into sand or mud, making body prints or painting her silhouette onto a wall. Mendieta expressed herself through many different media, including: sculpture, photography, drawing, film, and performance works. She participated in several exhibitions in her lifetime, including at the Bronx Museum of Art, and two solo exhibitions at A.I.R. Since her death in 1985, Mendieta’s work has been exhibited around the world and in numerous museums, such as: the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Ana Mendieta was a member of A.I.R. from 1979 to 1982
Kazuko Miyamoto (b. 1942)
Sculptor Kazuko Miyamoto received her formal training at the Art Students League in New York and at the Gendai Bijutsu Kenkyujo Studio in Tokyo. Describing her creative process, Miyamoto offers, “In the ‘70’s, I made many constructions using nails and string. Around 1995 I started dancing. Now I combine these two elements into a collaboration combining the creative structure of both art forms.” In 1986, she established Gallery OneTwentyEight in New York City where she currently serves as Director. Miyamoto has participated in a multitude of national and international group shows as well as solo, in spaces that include: 55 Mercer Gallery, NYC, Marilena Bonomo Gallery, Italy, Lodz Biennale, Poland, Neue Galerie Linz, Austria and The National Museum of Modern Art, Japan. She has worked with public commissions, installations and performances and received the Francis J, Greenburger Foundation Award in 2003 and the National Endowment for the Arts, CAPS in 1980.
Kazuko Miyamoto was a member of A.I.R. from its inception in 1972 until (?).
Howardena Pindell (b. 1943)
Howardena Pindell has made remarkable contributions to the art world as an artist, critic, curator and professor. Soon after A.I.R.’s opening, Pindell expressed some of the co-operative’s creative ambitions: “We’re working for a goal that’s above the individual. There are good women outside the gallery whom we want to reach.” (Ms. Magazine, 1973) Pindell has continued to champion under-recognized artists through her writing. Since the 1970s, she has published numerous articles attacking censorship, violence and racism as well as groundbreaking studies that expose the lack of representation of artists of color in major museums and galleries. Pindell inserts this active political voice into her own artwork as well, challenging propaganda, racism and injustice and exploring identity, cultural heritage and personal struggles. Her media range from abstract painting to sculpture, from videos to relief paintings, from photo-based collages to works on fabric. Pindell worked at the Museum of Modern Art as Associate Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books. She is currently a professor of Studio Art and the Director of the M.F.A. Drawing and Painting program at Stony Brook. Her work is included in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, The Whitney Museum of American Art and The Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University—among many others.
Howardena Pindell was a member of A.I.R. from its inception in 1972 until 1983.
Nancy Spero (b. 1926)
Nancy Spero is a prolific artist who works in various media, from installation to object based to printmaking. Her work contains imagery drawn from a wide breadth of sources, including: ancient history, fashion magazines, Etruscan and Roman frescoes, tomb sarcophagi, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement and feminism. Spero has always been politically and socially engaged, serving as a member of the Art Workers Coalition (1968-69) and of Women Artists in Revolution in 1969. In 1972 she co-founded A.I.R. Gallery, where she honed her artistic voice and developed her signature scroll paintings. In her first solo-show at A.I.R. in 1973, Spero united text and image printed on long scrolls of paper, glued end-to-end and tacked unceremoniously to the walls. Her disinterest in formal, grandiose presentation and preoccupation with intimacy and immediacy is a theme that has been consistent throughout her career. Spero’s work can be seen as part of a number of museum’s collections— the Chicago Institute of Art, Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and Walker Art Center are only a few—as well as in multiple public spaces, notably the Lincoln Center 1-train Subway station. Spero currently lives and works in New York City.
Nancy Spero was a member of A.I.R. from its inception in 1972 until 1983.
Clover Vail is a successful artist who uses various media to create her abstract and iconographic works. She is influenced by abstract expressionism, specifically the paintings by Pollack and de Kooning and early sculptures by John Chamberlain. Vail has had many solo exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad, including four exhibitions in the earlier years of A.I.R. In addition, Vail has received prestigious grants and awards, including the Esther & Adolph Gottlieb Foundation Grant in 2004, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award in 1991, and The MacDowell Colony in Fall 1989.
Clover Vail was a member of A.I.R. from 1975 until 1990.
Rachel bas-Cohain (1937-1982)
Rachel bas-Cohain was a conceptual artist whose mature work consisted of sculptural assemblage, installation, printmaking, earthworks, and watercolors. In the mid to late 1960s, she began to experiment with a wide variety of materials and processes, producing works that challenged theoretical and hierarchical distinctions by blurring and transgressing boundaries between traditional categories of artistic media, between “high” and “low” art, and between art and life. De-centered and dada-esque in their playful irony, these works celebrate the quotidian, chance, and change and mark the beginning of bas-Cohain’s artistic maturation. By 1966, bas-Cohain had been recognized with four fellowships from the Yaddo and MacDowell artists’ colonies. In 1968, she won a two-year fellowship to the Radcliffe Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where, in the company of women scholars and artists, her nascent feminism was shaped and deepened. In the early 1970s, bas-Cohain was a member not only of A.I.R. Gallery, but also Central Hall Gallery, a feminist cooperative gallery on Long Island, Women in the Arts, and the Ad Hoc Women Artists’ Committee. TBas-Cohain’s works have been exhibited at numerous institutions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Brooklyn Museum; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Bronx Museum of the Arts; P.S. 1, New York. Among the several museums that hold her works are the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the Indianapolis Museum of Art; the Jewish Museum, New York; the Smithsonian American Art Museum; and the Davis Museum and Cultural Center.
Rachel bas-Cohain was a member of A.I.R. from its inception in 1972 until 1982.
Additional early A.I.R. artists include:
Judith Bernstein was a member of A.I.R. from its inception in 1972 until 1975.
Blythe Bohnen was a member of A.I.R. from its inception in 1972 until 1978.
Maude Boltz was a member of A.I.R from its inception in 1972 until 1979.
Donna Byars began her membership with A.I.R. in 1976.
Sari Dienes began her membership A.I.R. in 1974.
Daria Dorosch has been a member of A.I.R. since its inception in 1972.
Sarah Draney was a member of A.I.R. from 1978 until 1987.
Loretta Dunkelman was a member of A.I.R. from its inception in 1972 until 1987.
Anne Healy began her membership with A.I.R. at its inception in 1972.
Laurace James was a member of A.I.R. from its inception in 1972 until 1980.
Nancy Kitchel was a member of A.I.R. from its inception from 1972 until 1974.
Louise Kramer has been a member of A.I.R. since its inception in 1972.
Pat Lasch was a member of A.I.R. from 1973 until 1980.
Rosemary Mayer was a member of A.I.R. from its inception in 1972 until 1974.
Patsy Norvell was a member of A.I.R. from its inception in 1972 until 1987.
Sylvia Sleigh was a member of A.I.R. from 1974 until 1978.
Susan Williams was a member of A.I.R. from its inception in 1972 until 1974.
Barbara Zucker was a member of A.I.R. from its inception in 1972 until 1974.