New art museum exhibition delves into ‘Feminist Futures’

A new exhibition at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art explores critical questions about artmaking, history, the future and feminist models of inquiry using works from the museum’s collection and UO faculty members. 

“Artists, Constellations and Connections: Feminist Futures,” on view from Jan. 27 to June 17, features current work by University of Oregon studio art faculty members installed alongside and in conversation with works they have selected from the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art’s permanent collection. 

“Feminist Futures” was organized by the art museum and seven members of the UO Department of Art as part of the 50th anniversary of the Center for the Study of Women in Society. 

The participating women faculty members approached the exhibition as a collaborative and collective project. The works in the exhibition are conceived as a constellation of connections between peer artists responding in diverse ways to the moment and to relevant artists and artworks of the past. 

“Selecting pieces from the JSMA collection enabled us to think about our work and feminism in relation to both the institution and a deeper history of artmaking,” said Laura Vandenburgh, an art professor and director of the  School of Art + Design in the UO’s College of Design

Vandenburgh said faculty members approached the search in individual ways. 

“Some took it as an opportunity to explore and discover women artists represented in the JSMA collection, finding connections to our own practice,” she said. “For others, the selections provide an expanded context for the artist’s own work, engaging the past and complex cultural histories. Mixing the current work of art faculty and selections from the collection, we hope, allows for a richer constellation of resonances to emerge for viewers.”

The exhibition introduces an installation by art professor Tannaz Farsi that elaborates on the idea of historical artifacts beyond the status of a commodity; a self-portrait photography series by art professor Tarrah Krajnak that sheds light on the censorship of multicultural women in photography; a collection of ornate brooches by jewelry designer and professor Anya Kivarkis that replicates jewelry from representations in archived historical texts; and a large-scale installation by Vandenburgh that grapples with themes of biological contingency. 

Additional highlights include imaginative acrylic paintings of professor Charlene Liu’s culinary heritage, a ceramic sculpture inspired by an Otagaki Rengentsu poem and a 6-foot-tall cutout installation by professor Amanda Wojick.

Some of the artworks chosen from the museum’s collection, such as the Otagaki Rengetsu bowl, represent echoes and affinities with the faculty work and speak to the power of art to collapse time and space. Other selected artworks, such as the Edward Weston photograph, function as antagonists, as a catalyst to interrogate more inclusive and complex experiences.

“Artists, Constellations and Connections: Feminist Futures” is curated by Wojick, Liu, Stacy Jo Scott, Vandenburgh, Krajnak, Farsi and Kivarkis from the UO Department of Art in consultation with museum curators Adriana Miramontes Olivas and Danielle Knapp.