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Transnationalism and Women Artists in the Diaspora

March 21, 2012 @ 7:00 pm

A.I.R. Gallery, The Feminist Art Project & The Institute for Women and Art, Rutgers

Transnationalism and Women Artists in the Diaspora
Dialogues in the Visual Arts

 The Tribecca Performing Arts Center
Wednesday March 21st at 6:30pm

Now in its fourth year, the annual series considers the most current critical issues and concerns for women artists, and celebrates Women in the Arts during National Women’s History Month. The second panel in the series will be held at Elizabeth Sackler Center located at the Brooklyn Museum.



Moderators: Judith K. Brodsky and Julie Lohnes
Panelists: Cui Fei, Ofri Cnaani, Negar Ahkami, Midori Yoshimoto and Tatiana Flores
Discussant: Ferris Olin

New York is now home to many women artists who transcend borders and who form an international feminist diaspora. Many artists come from countries in the Middle East where it is difficult for women to exhibit and contribute to the cultural sphere, but also from a Middle East country like Israel which offers equality for women. Others come from countries in Asia, Africa, South America, and even Europe. Many work from a feminist perspective; their work addresses gender, the environment, consumerism, and the relationship between the individual and the state. What attracts them to New York besides the opportunity to live in a city that is at the center of the art world? Are they attracted by a multinational atmosphere in the New York art world? Do they feel that New York accepts political and activist feminism in the visual arts? What are the sources for their feminism? Has their presence and the ideas they bring with them influenced the visual arts discourse in the city? Does living in New York affect their work as artists? These are some of the issues which this panel will address.


Negar Ahkami grew up in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City, a daughter of Iranian immigrants.  Ahkami’s work negotiates Iranian and Western art influences, on her own terms. Ahkami’s aesthetic takes inspiration from Iran’s contradictions: its exquisiteness and failure; its complexity and cartoonishness. She makes relief-like, glittery paintings that conjure Iran’s elaborately tiled mosques and patterned visual traditions. But Ahkami takes permission from Western expressionists, feminism, and American popular culture to make a version of Persian art that is bold, visceral, neurotic and free.  Ahkami received a BA in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures from Columbia University  and an MFA from School of Visual Arts.  Her work has been reviewed in the NY Times and ARTnews. She has received awards and fellowships, such as the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace grant.  Ahkami has had two solo exhibitions, with Leila Heller Gallery  in New York, and LMAK Projects in Brooklyn; and a two-person exhibition at Miki Wick Kim Gallery in Zurich.   Her work has been seen in group exhibitions at the New Britain Museum of American Art, the Chelsea Museum of Art, the Farjam Collection, UAE, the Bronx Museum of Art, Leila Heller Gallery, Stefan Stux Gallery and Kravets Wehby Gallery.

Judith K. Brodsky is Distinguished Professor Emerita, Department of Visual Arts, Rutgers University; Founding Director of the Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper renamed the Brodsky Center in her honor;  co-founder and co-director of the Rutgers Institute for Women and Art; and a facilitator of The Feminist Art Project, a national program to promote recognition of women artists. Brodsky was chair of the international print festival, Philagrafika, which took place in Philadelphia in 2010; past national president of ArtTable, the College Art Association, and the Women’s Caucus for Art; a former dean and former associate provost as well as former chair of the art department at the Rutgers campus at Newark. She was a contributor to the first comprehensive history of the American women’s movement in art, called The Power of Feminist Art. With Ferris Olin, she is organizing The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art, and Society in the Middle East.  The project consisting of exhibitions, lectures, concerts, and literary events will take place in Fall 2012 at Rutgers and Princeton Universities as well as community libraries and art centers. Brodsky presently serves on the boards of the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the International Print Center New York. A printmaker and artist, Brodsky’s work is in the permanent collections of over 100 museums and corporations.

Ofri Cnaani (b. Israel, 1975) lives in New York and works in time-based media, and large-scale installations. Ofri Cnaani graduated from Hunter College’s MFA studio program in 2004. Recent projects include a large-scale commission to create 10 site-specific video installations relating to the architecture of 10 museums of contemporary art in Italy. Solo exhibitions / performances include: PS1/MoMA, NYC; Twister, Network of Lombardy Contemporary Art Museums, Italy; Andrea Meislin Gallery, NYC; Braverman Gallery, Tel Aviv; Pack Gallery, Milan; Haifa Museum of Art, Israel; Herzlyia Museum of Art, Israel. Group exhibitions include: Moscow Biennial; The Kitchen, NYC; Bronx Museum of the Arts, NYC; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; Arnolfini Foundation Museum, Bristol, UK; Tel Aviv Museum; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Prague Triennale.

Cui Fei, born in Jinan, China. Cui attended the Affiliate High School of Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now China Academy of Fine Arts) where later she received her BFA degree in painting. Immediately following her graduation, she taught for three years as an assistant professor at the Shandong Academy of Fine Arts. She moved to the United States in 1996 to pursue higher education, earning her MFA degree in painting at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2001.  After graduating she moved to New York City to pursue her artistic career. She has headlined three solo shows, and has participated in over fifty gallery and museum exhibitions worldwide.  In 2010, she had her first solo museum show at the Warehouse Gallery at Syracuse University. Cui has been cited in various publications, including Art in America, The New York Times, and The New Yorker Magazine. She has received grants and awards, including The Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, the NYFA Fellowship from New York Foundation for the Arts, the BRIO Award from the Bronx Council on the Arts and was selected into the Artists-in-the-Marketplace program at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Princeton University Art Museum; The Tang Center for East Asian Art at Princeton University, and Light Work at Syracuse.

Tatiana Flores has a joint appointment with the Art History Department and LHCS. She obtained her MA and Ph. D from Columbia University. She specializes in twentieth century Latin American art and contemporary art. Her first book project examines the development of avant-gardism in post-revolutionary Mexico in relation to the Estridentista (“Stridentist”) movement, which encompassed art and literature. Another study assesses the art, visual culture, and cultural policy under the government of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Professor Flores has contributed to Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas, ReVista: The Harvard Review of Latin America, and Woman’s Art Journal and regularly writes for Art Nexus, for which she is editorial advisor. She is active as an independent curator, having organized exhibitions on contemporary painting, as well as Latin American and Latino art. The Cisneros Visiting Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies in 2007-2008, Tatiana Flores has also been the recipient of a Fulbright-García-Robles award and a Jean Charlot Foundation grant. Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty, she taught at Florida State University.

Julie Lohnes is the director of A.I.R. Gallery, the first artists-run gallery for women in the United State.  She is also an artist who interrogates the subjects of place, play, female power and sexuality. She strives to rupture cohesive understanding of play while reinterpreting the heroic, masculine landscape pictured by Homer and Eakins. By placing seemingly incongruous objects, women and actions together in her videos and installations, she alters meaning and content. Each piece is light-hearted and playful while pushing against social coherency towards more transgressive, social implications. Recent exhibitions include “Back to New York, HP Garcia Gallery, New York, NY, “Escape from New York,” Fabricolor Building, Paterson, NJ, “Play”, Tufts University Art Gallery @ Aidekman Arts Center, Medford, MA, and a solo show “Carousel,” Chase Gallery, Boston, MA.  She has received a number of grants and awards including a Puffin Foundation Grant, New York Foundation for the Arts Fiscal Sponsorship Award, and a Vermont Studio Center Residency.  Her work is in several private and public collections.

Dr. Ferris Olin is the co-founder and co-director of the Institute for Women and Art at Rutgers and a coordinator of The Feminist Art Project, a national effort to make visible the impact of women on culture. The Institute is one of eight that form the Rutgers Institutes for Women’s Leadership.  She is curator with Judith K. Brodsky of the Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series at Rutgers, the longest continuous running venue for emerging and established women artists.  Recent publications include “Stepping out of the beaten path: Feminism and the Visual Arts,” SIGNS, A Journal of Women in Culture and SocietyEccentric Bodies: The Body as Site for the Imprint of Age, Race, and Identity, exhibition catalogue, Mason Gross School of the Arts Galleries, Rutgers University both with co-author Brodsky; and ‘Institutional Activism:  Documenting Contemporary Women Artists in the United States,” Art Libraries Journal 32 (2007). With Brodsky, Olin created the Women Artists Archive National Directory (WAAND), funded initially by the Getty Foundation, a digital directory of archives where the papers of women artists active since 1945 are located.  Among the exhibitions she and Brodsky have curated in recent years are an exhibition of the Guerrilla Girls, a retrospective of Faith Ringgold’s work; How American Women Artists Invented Postmodernism and many one woman shows. Olin for many years was a professor in the Rutgers University Libraries where she directed a number of centers and projects.  She was awarded the Women’s Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement award in February 2012.

Midori Yoshimoto is Associate Professor of Art History and Director of two galleries at New Jersey City University. In addition to teaching contemporary art among other courses, she works closely with co-op interns and work-study students to organize various exhibitions and other related programs on campus. While earning her doctorate degree at Rutgers University between 1996 and 2002, she served as Assistant Curator of Japonisme Collection at the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, realizing many traveling exhibitions. With her extensive museum background, Yoshimoto continues to curate exhibitions in and out of NJCU. In fall 2003, she organized a very challenging exhibition ‘Do-It-Yourself Fluxus’ at Art Interactive in Cambridge, MA ( Yoshimoto’s doctoral dissertation, Into Performance: Japanese Women Artists in New York, 1955-75, which interweaves art and life of the five Japanese women artists including Yoko Ono and Yayoi Kusama, was published from Rutgers University Press in Spring 2005. A part of her doctoral research was already published in the Japan Society’s Yes Yoko Ono exhibition catalogue in 2000. Also active as an art critic, she regularly contributes reviews of exhibitions in the New York metropolitan area for periodicals including Geijutsu Shincho. Since 2004, Yoshimoto has served as a lecturer at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, providing gallery talks and lectures.


A.I.R. Gallery, Rutgers Institute for Women and Art, The Feminist Art Project


March 21, 2012
7:00 pm
Event Category:


Tribeca Performing Arts Center
199 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007 United States