A Month for Women, a World of Frida, a Museum for All
Dear Friends of the HRM,
It’s always special for me to write about and experience the work of women artists, and ever more so during the month of March. A case in point: few artists captivate the world by first name alone. Frida is one of them. This season, and as part of Women’s History Month, we are recognizing the culture, style, and persona of visionary Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907–1954), who is widely admired around the world and continues to inspire with her story of resilience, love, and bravery.
In The World of Frida, a diverse roster of seventy-five contemporary artists reflects on Frida Kahlo as an iconic, renegade artist and outspoken feminist. Beyond her powerful and personal paintings, people admire how she persevered throughout her life against devastating odds. Our companion exhibition, Frida Kahlo in Context explores the artist’s connection to her beloved Mexico and includes intimate images by photographers such as Lola Álvarez Bravo, Nickolas Muray, and Bernard Silberstein. La ofrenda (The Offering) by Diego Rivera, on loan from Art Bridges, reminds us of the profound and often tumultuous relationship between these two renowned artists, while the vibrant dance ensemble costumes lent by the Ballet Folklórico Mexicano de Nueva York reflect the style Kahlo carefully crafted for herself by wearing similar traditional clothing.
May I recommend? Join us for Understanding the Art and Biography of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera (Virtual), featuring Hilda Trujillo, who directed the Frida Kahlo Casa Azul Museum from 2002–2020. Considered one of only nine world experts in the work of Frida Kahlo, Trujillo will speak to us—in Spanish with simultaneous interpretation in English—about Kahlo’s art, life and relationships.
A lens on women: Continuing to think about #WomensHistoryMonth, I encourage you to take in the skills on view in Collection Spotlight: Women Photographers. Don’t miss new acquisitions to the Museum’s extensive photography collection, including color photographs by Suda House and Mary Frey, and portraits and figural compositions by Kenda North, Bonnie Schiffman, Melanie Walker, and Nancy Webber, all on view in the Museum’s galleries for the first time.
The cyclical essence of nature and the universe exists on both grand and small scales in Cycles of Nature: Highlights from the Collections of HRM and Art Bridges. Day becomes night; seasons pass and return; and tides ebb and flow. Among the sixteen landscape paintings, still lifes, and photographs, we see artists such as Lee Krasner paint as part of grieving and healing. Her masterful Re-echo series, considered some of her most important work, helped her process the loss of her husband Jackson Pollock. As featured, photographer and relentless traveler Berenice Abbott sounded an early visual alarm in Fallers—Timber that drew attention to the impact of deforestation in the crafting of the American landscape. Often working in the traditional domain of men, Abbott provides one of my favorite quotes from an artist: “The world doesn’t like independent women, why, I don’t know, but I don’t care.”
Head to the outer limits: Too often, women’s scientific discoveries have been minimized or credit has been taken by someone else. I can’t think of a better way to relaunch our Under the Dome performance series in #HRMPlanetarium than with Silent Sky by Laura Gunderson, on Saturday, March 26, produced by River’s Edge Theatre Company. This staged reading tells the true story of early-twentieth-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, and the ways women’s ideas were often dismissed until men claimed credit for them.
Exciting news for families! We know this to be true: experiencing positive and welcoming family visits to museums from an early age has been shown to significantly impact cultural participation of all kinds in later life. For this reason, we are proud to announce that Hudson River Museum has joined Museums for All, a signature access program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), to encourage people of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum-going habits. The program supports those receiving food assistance (SNAP) benefits visiting the HRM for a minimal fee of $2 per person, up to four people, for general gallery admission, with the presentation of a SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Joining Museums for All is part of our continued commitment to all of our families in Westchester and beyond. Help us spread the word about #MuseumsForAll and let’s all build a social network of families that fosters a lifelong love of learning and pride in being part of the bigger picture together.
Eyes on the world: Current global events have led to new humanitarian crises, mass displacement, and the intentional destruction of important art and historical artifacts. Acts of war always impact women and children disproportionately. I applaud the resilience and tenacity of the Ukrainian people as they fight to defend their sovereign nation, their families, and their cultural heritage. Recognizing that migration and humanitarian aid are issues that resonate deeply in our community, the Museum will continue to update our community resource list for those who need help or want to lend a helping hand.
With spring comes renewal,
Director and CEO
Image: Tara Ahern, Mariam Pare, and Reveca Torres (Prospects Heights, IL). Dos Fridas Recreation, 2015. Photography and digital media. Courtesy of the artists.