By 1812Blockhouse

In the wake of World War II, the American art scene underwent a radical transformation. The late 1940s bore witness to the birth of Abstract Expressionism, a movement deeply influenced by the lingering impact of the Great Depression, the vibrant work of Mexican muralists, and the surrealist belief in the unconscious as the wellspring of creativity. This era’s artistic landscape was a melting pot of diverse painterly styles unified by a shared emphasis on spontaneous paint application and intuitive psychic improvisation. Abstract Expressionism evolved into a dynamic platform for artists, particularly women, to articulate their innermost thoughts and emotions through gestural abstraction and vibrant color palettes.

The Female Force in Abstract Expressionism

The Mansfield Art Center’s Elizabeth T. Black Gallery proudly presents “Women’s Work: Reshaping the Abstract Narrative,” an exhibition showcasing the works of Leslye Discont Arian, Patty Flauto, Suzan Kraus, Carol MacConnell, Elliot Twelvetrees, and M.P. Wiggins. This showcase, running from January 21 to February 25, highlights the crucial role women played in shaping the narrative of Abstract Expressionism.

Historically, the art world was a domain dominated by male artists, often overshadowing the contributions of their female counterparts. The early days of Abstract Expressionism were no different, with women artists striving to carve out their space in a field largely perceived as an all-American boys club. Despite societal shifts that saw women breaking out of traditional roles and venturing into new career paths, the art sphere remained resistant to this change. However, several influential female artists, often the wives or partners of renowned male artists, stood at the forefront of the battle for artistic equality and recognition. These women were not just silent figures in the backdrop; they were pioneers who challenged stereotypes and paved the way for future generations of female artists.

The Artistic Voices of Today

Discont Arian, Flauto, Kraus, MacConnell, Twelvetrees, and Wiggins bring an array of expressive styles to “Women’s Work.” Their art transcends conventional representational forms, communicating the raw, improvisational emotion characteristic of abstraction. Elliot Twelvetrees eloquently describes the process: “When I compose and make a painting, I am conjuring with color, gestural line, memory, and layers of paint. I want you to see vistas from the corner of your eye, remember a long-lost poem, hear a distant melody; be enveloped by a subtle or powerful mood.”

This exhibition is a declaration of artistic freedom, spontaneity, and unbridled intuition. It is a testament to the fact that the first abstract painting, often overlooked in history, was created by a woman in 1906. “Women’s Work: Reshaping the Abstract Narrative” at The Mansfield Art Center is not just an exhibition; it is a statement of presence and power by these six artists, boldly claiming their space in the realm of Abstract Expressionism.

More information on the exhibition, including hours, can be found here.

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