Chicago Women Artists
The MCA's Options series showcased many women artists at a time when gallery representation was rare.
I've always been really interested in showing the work of female artists in some part because some of the artists that I did show early on, the Chicago-based people, were female artists, and they were struggling a little bit to have a context to show, because the gallery system was set up in a way that often a female artist—and actually Diane Simpson is a great example of this—if she lived in the suburbs and had a husband and a family, just wasn't taken terribly seriously, regardless of the nature of the work.
So, a lot of these female artists actually had to band together and found their own galleries as part of the women's movement in the seventies and eighties. And we had two of those galleries here in Chicago that showed a lot of those artists. One's still around—Arc Gallery is still around. So, those were the places I would go as a young curator and look for artists that could potentially show at the museum. So, I did a lot of sort of what really would be like 12 x 12 or Chicago Works-type of shows back then, but they were part of a series called Options, which was sort of emerging artists from United States and Chicago.
So, I look back at those shows and I think about half of them were women artists, which was really great to see. And many of them we did get some examples of their work in the collection. But as far as like the big solo shows, those continue to be hard to convince people that, you know, a female artist could carry such a show.