In 1972 twenty women gathered together to create a space where women artists could exhibit their work. They sought to demonstrate on a national scale that women's perspectives are valuable, compelling, and necessary. Their efforts radically altered the public discourse on women in the arts, and successfully dispelled the disparaging myths of the “lady painter” and other stereotypes of a feminine viewpoint. In the years following the gallery’s opening, the founding members have embarked on careers that still impact the progress of the women's art movement.
The Legacy Project is an ongoing project aimed at preserving, consolidating, and making accessible the history of A.I.R. and its founding members. Spearheaded by Daria Dorosh in the summer of 2017, the Legacy Project has been a collective effort passed through many hands, poked at, picked up and pushed to the side, a latent pursuit that only recently—two years after the initial launch of the project—has been significantly re-worked and expanded to a website-ready state. The collaborative aspect of the project reflects A.I.R.’s broader mission: to open a dialogue within our community that supports a free exchange of ideas and risk-taking. The archive exists as a means of preserving the voices of this pioneering group of artists, in hopes that it will connect younger generations to the legacy of change that came before them.
Yet, this record remains far from finished. More detail, insight, and first-person accounts still need to be added to each artist’s respective biography, and there are boxes of primary source material that have yet to be digitized. Future additions to the project also include: an interactive, comprehensive timeline of A.I.R.; written, audio and visual interviews with the remaining founders; profiles of later members who made a significant impact on the gallery; and images of A.I.R. ephemera with detailed descriptions. Making available this information is one step towards understanding a history—both good and bad—that continues to be relevant today.
A.I.R. would like to thank Cornelia Smith, Courtney Hunter, and Saskya Fun Sang for all the time and dedication towards making this project possible.