“A Century of Women in Prints, 1917-2017” is on display through Dec. 17 at the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin.
For centuries, printmaking was regarded as a male-dominated medium outside the scope of socially acceptable pursuits for women.
Though numerous women had nevertheless established themselves professionally as printmakers by the modern era, female artists remain underrepresented in most museum print collections to this day.
Organized by Andaleeb Badiee Banta, curator of European and American Art, with assistance from Claire Rasmussen and Kylie Fisher, this exhibit features a selection of prints created by women during the course of the AMAM’s first 100 years.
Spanning a century and various styles — expressionism, surrealism, and minimalism, among others — and addressing themes such as poverty, race, gender, motherhood, war, and creativity, these prints offer a glimpse of the breadth and depth of female artists’ engagements with the medium.
The prints of German expressionist Kathe Kollwitz (1867-1945) feature prominently, including the woodcut “Unemployment” (1925), which depicts through haunting contrasts of light and shadow the destitution of a Weimar-era German family.
A print by celebrated portrait artist Alice Neel (1900-1984) is also on view. “Portrait of Olivia” (1972) features a young girl whom Neel may or may not have known; her choice of the subject possibly reflects her difficult experiences as a young mother, including the death of her first daughter to diphtheria.
Nefertiti Goodman’s (born in 1949) enormous linocut print, “Getting Fixed to Look Pretty” (1978) portrays a black servant attending to her more affluent black employer, subverting familiar artistic tropes of African-American women serving white women.
The exhibition was developed in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Allen Memorial Art Museum.
Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday; and closed Mondays and major holidays.
Free educational or group guided tours may be arranged by calling 440-775-8671.