“I am my own muse, the subject I know best,” painter Frida Kahlo once said. She and other renowned female artists and inspirational women are honored in local exhibitions and events this March.
Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles co-present the first retrospective of “Andrea Bowers” through March 26. For the past 20 years, the artist and advocate has built an international reputation for her drawings, videos, and installations that deal with social issues from climate justice to women’s rights, addressing sexual assault, the #MeToo movement, and Roe v. Wade.
In one piece (pictured above), Bowers superimposes the line “Can you think of any laws that give government the power to make decisions about the male body?” onto an illustration from “Les Femmes Illustres, Ou, Les Harangues Heroïques” by Madeleine de Scudéry, published in Paris in 1644. The question was asked during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing in 2018 by then Senator Kamala Harris.
Similarly, the juxtaposition of current-day diva Lady Gaga and an 1806 portrait by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (pictured above) can be seen in “Pop Stars! Popular Culture and Contemporary Art” (March 21, 2022-Feb. 2023). The group exhibition at 21c Museum Hotel Chicago features more than 90 pieces by 55 artists.
“With unprecedented access to an audience of one’s own, we find affirmation onscreen, and venerate fame as a final destination,” explains the museum’s director and chief curator Alice Gray Stites. “As the real and the virtual increasingly collide, boundaries between art and media further blur, inspiring new mythologies realized in new materials: stars of stage, screen, and sport are re-envisioned, offering insight into how desire shapes identity.”
Drawing from ancient Greek mythology, the meditative work of artist Theodora Allen is on view in “Theodora Allen: Saturnine” (March 26-July 10, 2022) at The Driehaus Museum. “Through [her] intensely detailed and distilled paintings, we come closer to an experience of understanding the enduring symbols that surround us,” says curator Stephanie Cristello.
“Theodora Allen’s work is emblematic of timeless tropes that resonate with the museum and the collection, as well as our present day,” adds Executive Director Anna Musci of the artist’s paintings which will be displayed alongside the Tiffany glass and pre-Raphaelite works hanging in the museum’s Art Nouveau interior.
The Lighthouse Lounge at Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago marks International Women’s Day with “A Toast to Frida” on March 8. Designed for mothers, sisters, daughters, girlfriends and businesswomen, the evening includes hors d’oeuvres, wine, and a showing of “Immersive Frida Kahlo” which digitally showcases the 20th century Mexican artist’s self-portraits.
According to the show’s co-producer Irina Shabshis, “International Women’s Day is the perfect occasion to honor this extraordinary artist and her legacy, as well as celebrate all the women who touch and shape our lives every day.”