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Spencer Museum receives $20K from NEA to research exhibition on 'Bold Women'

Monday, April 12, 2021

Mary Sibande, "Sophie-Ntombikayise"

LAWRENCE — The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas has been awarded $20,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support research and development of the exhibition “Bold Women: Changing the World and Art.” With an international assemblage of women and nonbinary artists, the exhibition will foster conversation at the intersection of race and gender. The exhibition is scheduled to open at the Spencer Museum in 2023.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support this project from the Spencer Museum of Art,” said Ann Eilers, NEA acting chair. “The Spencer Museum is among the arts organizations across the country that have demonstrated creativity, excellence and resilience during this very challenging year.”

With approximately 100 works of art representing a variety of cultures and identities, “Bold Women” will trace women’s artistic roles in creating change and advancing social justice during the past 150 years. The exhibition will include textiles, sculpture, metalwork, painting, video and photography from the Spencer Museum’s collection and loans.

Support from the NEA will enable Susan Earle, Spencer Museum curator of European and American art, to assemble and work closely with a team of advisers who will help select artwork for the exhibition and co-create educational materials, programming and marketing. Committed advisers include Marla A. Jackson, Lawrence-based artist; Rose Bryant, Spencer Museum board member; Kimberli Gant, the McKinnon curator of modern and contemporary art at the Chrysler Museum of Art; and Wanda Nanibush, curator of Indigenous art at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

“This exhibition will champion overlooked accomplishments of underrepresented groups to open thinking beyond conventional constructions of race and gender boundaries,” Earle said. “As such, many voices and perspectives will be included in the project's development.”

The grant will also help support a graduate student intern who will conduct exhibition research, collaborate with the advisory group, and integrate student perspectives and experiences into the show and related programming. Additionally, NEA funds will support visits by artists who will carry out residencies at the Spencer Museum during the run of the exhibition in 2023. As part of preparatory visits, the artists will meet with community and campus partners as well as KU faculty and students. These planning activities will strengthen the integration of “Bold Women” into KU curriculum and ensure the project has relevance for KU students and community members.

Image: Mary Sibande, "Sophie-Ntombikayise," 2009, museum purchase: R. Charles and Mary Margaret Clevenger Art Acquisition Fund, image courtesy of the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas.