8 Influential Female Curators

Posted by Antoinette Genevieve on 14th March 2019

Now more than ever it's important that we take the time to champion women's achievements. As the month of March has become an international celebration dedicated to women and women’s rights, we're highlighting 8 inspirational female curators who are making an impact on the art world.


Wonder Woman by Ellannah Sadkin


1. Helen Molesworth

Curator Helen Molesworth has been an icon in the art world for over a decade. Molesworth has always championed diversity and inclusion, and has exhibited challenging art. Her work has provided inspiration for women wishing to follow in her stead. It was recently announced that Molesworth will be the inaugural curator-in-residence for Anderson Ranch Arts Center. This will be the first institutional position she has held since her departure from the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.


Helen Molesworth (Image Courtesy of news.artnet.com)


2. Thelma Golden

Thelma Golden currently holds the 8th position of the Art Review’s Power 100  (a list of most influential people in the contemporary art world). In 1988 she became the first black curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is currently the Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. Golden is known for promoting emerging artists and her exhibitions focus in particular on emerging African American artists. In 2010 Golden gave a TedTalk about how art gives shape to cultural change.


Thalma Golden (Image Courtesy of wsj.com)


3. Chou Yu-Ling

One of the younger and less well-known features on the Power 100 list is Chou Yu-Ling. Chou specializes in the development of the visual arts and moving image culture in Taiwan. In 2016 she organized the Meeting Point of the Museum and the Moving Images lecture series, which explored the role of moving image practices in contemporary art. In 2017 Chou curated Hardcore Rally with Hantoo Art Group from the perspective of reconstructing ethos of artistic communities and art history. Yu-Ling currently holds an in-house curator position with the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art.


Yu Ping Kuo Installation, 2018, Taiwan Biennial (Image Courtesy of e-flux.com)


4. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev is the current Director of the Castello di Rivoli. She has a long curatorial resume that includes directing the 13th edition of Documenta, organizing the 2008 Biennale of Sydney, and curating solo exhibitions with artists such as Alberto Burri, Ed Atkins, and Giovanni Anselmo. Christov-Bakargiev is known as one of the most influential women in the art world and has recently been awarded the 2019 Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence by the Center for Curatorial Studies.


Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (Image Courtesy of art.northwestern.edu)


5. Maria Balshaw

Maria Balshaw is a CBE and the first female director of the Tate museums and galleries. She has held the position since 2017 and has helped to further Tate’s mission “to promote public understanding and enjoyment of British, modern and contemporary art”. She was Director of the Whitworth from June 2006 to 2017. 
In 2011, Balshaw took on the role of Director of Manchester City Galleries alongside her duties at the Whitworth.


Maria Balshaw (Image Courtesy of standard.co.uk)


6. Claire Hsu

Claire Hsu is the Director and Co-Founder of the Hong Kong-based nonprofit Asia Art Archive (AAA). Structured around an expanding physical library, the Archive includes an unrivalled digital library, residencies, workshops, conferences and symposia that document and shape the historical discourse around contemporary Asian art. Hsu's influence in the region has been ongoing, and we look forward to seeing where the AAA will take its audiences in the future.


Claire Hsu (Image Courtesy of ionawhittaker.com)


7. María Inés Rodríguez

The Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) in Brazil announced in February that María Inés Rodríguez and Julia Bryan-Wilson have been appointed as adjunct curators for modern and contemporary art. Rodríguez is the former director of the Musée d’art Contemporain de Bordeaux and the Chief Curator at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City. Much like Molesworth, Rodríguez is celebrated as a progressive steward of the arts.


María Inés Rodríguez (Image Courtesy of  hyperallergic.com)


8. Casey Fremont

Casey Fremont is the Executive Director of Art Production Fund. She grew up in New York City's Greenwich Village and graduated from Boston University in 2004 with an Art History degree. In September 2009, Fremont co-curated That Was Then at Rush Arts in New York, and in January 2010 she co-curated Look Again at Marlborough Gallery, New York. She began working at Art Production Fund in 2004 and gained the title of Executive Director in November 2016.


Casey Fremont (Image Courtesy of artproductionfund.org)


Joe Hesketh | A 21st-Century Woman

Posted in In the Studio by Bethan Street on 12th March 2019

Lancashire based artist Joe Hesketh creates art that is playful yet grotesque to make dynamic statements about the human condition. Joe processes things she sees and hears every day, using it as inspiration for her art which is loosely fabricated to highlight the ridiculous in our lives. We ask her about her experience as a woman in the male-dominated art world.


Would you consider yourself a feminist?

Yes, I am a feminist, I don't understand women who aren't. Women naturally support each other, or at least I'd like to think so and in this male-dominated world, we need to stick together. In the past, a "feminist" could be labeled a man hater but I think that was a way of also keeping women down and adding confusion to the word to keep women in there place, well that was then and this is now!


Baby Wipes by Joe Hesketh, 2017


The art world is still very much male-dominated. How does this impact you and your artistic practice?

The whole world is still very male-dominated, I was brought up as an equal in my household so I found it very disturbing when I left school. My whole work is about the world we live in, in our time, so it is very interesting for artists to use the information around them. I use humour to highlight the ridiculous and the ridiculousness that this is still going on in this day and age, so the impact on my work is huge.


Facebook by Joe Hesketh, 2017


How do your paintings provide an interpretation of life as a woman in 21st century Britain?

21st century women are more complicated and confident than the traditional cliches women of yesteryear so I like to challenge accepted norms using blobby and lumpy expressive forms rather than the so-called 'ideal figure', exaggerated proportions and in a cartoonists way to evoke cliches of over-sexualised representations and to show strong women in all shapes and form and hopefully people see the beauty in that and also see that dark side of viewing any female in a pathetic one dimensional way.


Bubble Head 1 by Joe Hesketh, 2015


What is the role of the grotesque in your works? Are you rebelling against the ‘classic’ nude?

To speak about the grotesque in my work is to speak about the horror in this world, from leaders running the planet to basic cruelty to people and animals. I'm very concerned about the state of the earth and how lots of things are swept under the carpet, I use my work to point out simple changes we can make instead of being blinded by consumerism and to look the other way. Nobody's perfect but simple things can make a big difference.


 Bubble Head 2 by Joe Hesketh, 2015


What is the motivation behind the clown motif in your works?

The clowns in my work are the stupidity of us all, I've now morphed into my work and go as a clown about town. I think the clown sums up this place where we all live. It's bright it's beautiful, it's also funny at times but there's always the undertone of darkness and with a clown it's subtle but you always know it's there.


Joe Hesketh performing as a clown


Can you take us through your process?

My process changes from day to day and it always depends on what's affected me that morning or the night before. I usually get a bee in my bonnet over something so this fires me up to decide whether I'll paint, sculpt or get down to some drawing. For the last 6 months, I've been preparing two giant figures for a local woods in Pendle so I've been doing a lot of drawing in between. Some of my most emotionally loaded artworks are my drawings (and where a piece starts) and these are a display of the extreme, things that don't sit easily with me but I always have to rub the image back or most drawings would end up clown-like, planet-eating monsters. This also makes me laugh.


 Getting There by Joe Hesketh, 2014


What inspires you?

I get inspired by a lot of things, from watching documentaries on artists or heroic influences, old movies, old circus footage but Goya's materialist philosophy is always a shocker to me and from so long ago it's so apt to operate within the current consumerism culture's understanding.


Dummy by Joe Hesketh, 2014


Do you have a favorite inspirational figure?

My favourite inspirational figure would have to be Yayoi Kusama, I first came across her whilst at university in the late '90s. The obsessive working, so the massive body of work, she encompasses so many art forms and you can tell when you see a piece you are actually seeing inside of her head and how she's experiencing the world. This unique vision placed her as a key developments figure for pop, performance and installation art, creating a Kusama world and questioning what we are and what it means to live.




Bridget Riley | The Hermaphrodite

Posted by Bethan Street on 05th March 2019

Bridget Riley was born at Norwood, London, in 1931. Riley gained attention for her illusionary black and white paintings in the 1960s and was grouped under the category of ‘Op art’ (optical art). Riley’s works are abstract but intimate as they make us physically feel something, replicating subjective sensations much like that of memory.


Bridget Riley

(Image Courtesy of elephant.art)


Riley gained attention at the height of the feminist movement, and many art historians and critics attempted to define her work by its femininity. In an endeavor to remove herself from those who wished to classify her work by gender, she wrote an essay titled ‘The Hermaphrodite’.


Fall by Bridget Riley 1963

(Image Courtesy of tate.org.uk)


The essay expressed her thoughts on the matter clearly: “Women’s liberation, when applied to artists, seems to me to be a naive concept… At this point in time, artists who happen to be women need this particular form of hysteria like they need a hole in the head.” Riley felt limited by classifications based on gender identity, she called it a “Red Herring”.


Rustle 6 by Bridget Riley, 2015

(Image Courtesy of elephant.art)


The artist also believed that the realm of art-making was gender neutral: “I have never been aware of my femininity as such, when in the studio. Nor do I believe that male artists are aware of an exclusive masculinity while they are at work.” She asserts her right as an artist regardless of gender and suggests “Women as artists, should focus on how to start, lead and sustain a creative life. It’s not a question of style or a break with tradition.”


Over by Bridget Riley, 1966

(Image Courtesy of nationalgalleries.org)


In her refusal to align herself with feminism and the lack of understanding as to why she did this, she was left outside of the feminist canon and consequently art-historical discourse. This has changed and she is now a celebrated British artist.


Quiver 3 by Bridget Riley, 2014

(Image Courtesy of contemporaryartsociety.org)


Although Riley does not wish to be associated with feminism, she is an artist who has resisted traditional expectations of what women can and should do. Look out for her major retrospective at the Hayward Gallery in October.





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