Beginning in the early 20th century, opportunities for women in the visual arts expanded with every new movement. From Impressionism and the Arts and Craft movement through Regionalism and American Scene Painting, women increasingly influenced the dialogue across the nation. With the societal shifts in the United States after WWII, more women took on the role of working artists. Perhaps no art movement before or since has provided more freedom of expression and democracy of form than the postwar move toward abstraction.
The Whole Drum Will Sound – drawn primarily from the Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s Permanent Collection – celebrates strong female voices in abstract art in the American South. In French author Amin Maalouf’s book, In the Name of Identity, he writes, “A person’s identity is not an assemblage of separate affiliations, nor a kind of loose patchwork; it is like a pattern drawn on a tightly stretched parchment. Touch just one part of it, just one allegiance, and the whole person will react, the whole drum will sound.” The artists included in this exhibition cannot be categorized solely upon their gender or regional affiliation. The facts that they are female, or Southern or that they create through abstraction are just elements of the patterns upon the drums that they sound. This exhibition seeks to find resonance among these artists, and to trace a trajectory of abstraction in the South through the rise of female voices in the visual arts.
Moving from the early Abstract Expressionist paintings of Dusti Bongé to the contemporary constructions of Shawne Major, this exhibition includes work that ranges from the geometries of Ida Kohlmeyer and Halcyone Barnes to the gestural canvases of Vincencia Blount; from the stained surfaces of Dorothy Hood and Anastasia Pelias to the biomorphic abstractions of MaPo Kinnord and Shawn Hall. Together, these works show a range of studio practices by female artists working in the South within the language of abstraction, and highlights the breadth of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s Permanent Collection.