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Artists who will be a part of the Women's Mobile Museum. (Photo: Philadelphia Photo Arts Center.)
Artists who will be a part of the Women's Mobile Museum. Photo: Philadelphia Photo Center

Raising women's voices in the Philadelphia art scene

The Women's Mobile Museum will showcase the artwork of 10 women from the Philadelphia region, highlighting their personal and collective experiences.

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When the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center introduced the Women’s Mobile Museum earlier this year, it created a tremendous and needed opportunity for female artists.

Led by internationally renowned South African artist-activist Zanele Muholi, the year-long residency and apprenticeship program has allowed 10 women artists of different ages, ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds from across Greater Philadelphia to collaborate and produce art that reflects their individual and collective experiences.

The Women’s Mobile Museum program aims to combat the challenges that economically disadvantaged women experience in art spaces, such as a lack of artistic resources and opportunities to showcase their work, as well as little or no access to higher education and professional training. The apprenticeship has provided the artists with funding, access to previously unavailable tools and resources, exhibition opportunities and formal training.

This initiative is significant because it gives women a chance to make their voices heard in the Philadelphia art scene. Often, when we think of the most famous, well known or influential artists throughout history, most of the names listed are male — Pablo Picasso, Leonardo Da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, to name a few. 

However, women artists throughout history — such as Frida Kahlo, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe — produced beautiful works during the same time periods as men, but didn’t receive nearly the same level of recognition.

This is a microcosm of the struggles women often experience in other fields. Women don’t get the same recognition compared to men in sports, academia, law, entertainment, politics... The list goes on. There are countless examples of marginalization, discrimination and a lack of representation for women in these fields. The gender gap exists in myriad areas of life and society. The art scene is no different.

“These artists have not been given a voice or a place in their world – the art world – until now," Lori Waselchuk, Exhibitions and Programs Coordinator at PPAC, said in a press release. “And they’re using this newfound platform as an opportunity to change the conversation and expand the lens through which art is viewed.”

Muffy Ashley Torres is one of the 10 women involved with this program.

This mobile art museum gives women the opportunity to tell their own story rather than allowing someone else to tell it, and can inspire and encourage more women to do the same, not only through art, but in other areas. That may, in turn, lead to the creation of more opportunities for members of other marginalized groups to raise their voices.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to express themselves and their experiences through art if that is the fashion they choose. This program promotes and extends that opportunity, as art forms should.

The Women’s Mobile Museum will open on September 22, 2018, at the Juniata Park Boys and Girls Club, where it will remain until October 13, 2018. It will move to the Dixon House in Point Breeze on October 27, 2018 until November 17, 2018. It will then move on to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts on December 22, 2018. The project will end with a culminating exhibit at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center from January 10, 2019, to March 30, 2019.

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