A Spotlight on Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum

By Celine Grajo
April 1, 2017

A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum is a special installation constructed of ten different exhibitions celebrating the progression of feminism and the tenth anniversary of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

Past a lobby filled with music and Pop Up Bars, the crowds were greeted by Infinite Blue, a collection expressing the significance of the color blue across cultures and millennia. Blue meant the skies and spirituality, but blue was also a statement of power, beauty, and status. From preserved sculptures and coins, to illuminated manuscripts and rings, though not yet fully installed, Infinite Blue was a stately history of this ancient hue.

Up two flights, A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt captivates with its telling of Ancient Egypt’s belief of gender and the restrictions that females faced when crossing over into the afterlife. It was said that the male created the fetus and transferred it to the female during intercourse, making recreation impossible for a woman alone. A priest would perform rituals and paint her coffin red, the color representative of man, in order to give her access to rebirth.

In contrast to this, Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, located on the fourth floor, portrays the symbolic history of women. Her suggestive ceramic flower plates are individually assigned to different goddesses of old and notable women of the recent and present days. Each plate is decorated to that particular woman’s contribution to their time, and feminism as a whole.

Marilyn Winter wanted to explore the emotions and thoughts centered on beauty and the female body in American culture. Pretty/Dirty is filled with photographs and photorealistic and Pop art paintings focusing on desire and the fashion industry’s commercialization of sex and the female body. The power behind Winter’s concepts were rejected by society, as they depicted overtly sexual scenes wrapped in humor and irony.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern was an exposition of O’Keeffe’s “self-crafted public persona,” gifting to the Brooklyn Museum her clothes and pictures of the artist. Being a stronghold of feminism, as shown in her evocative paintings of flowers and ram heads, O’Keeffe made sure the public understood her essence and creativity through each pose, idea, and fabric she gave life to.

Feminism is often misunderstood. It is not superiority over or hatred of men. It is the liberation of women from society’s limitations. It is the casting off of gender expectations and the creation of equal rights. These works, and many more, will be shown at the Brooklyn Museum for a year, continuing this progressive message of equality.