From the predisposition of Linda Nochlin’s article “Why have there been no great woman artists” (1971), “Can the Subaltern Speak” by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (2008) as well as the questions sparked by “The guerilla girls” Women artists have been hugely unrepresented and collected throughout time, Furthermore women artists have been lacking in art historical scholarship throughout the years.
For women’s month, the Unisa Art Gallery reflects on the Unisa Art Collection and celebrates women artists. Collecting artworks from artists from the continent and the diaspora, The Unisa Art Gallery opens a lens on the diverse practices of women artists. Fluctuating from traditional to contemporary, experimental as well installation works, women artists have been and continue to voice, express, and narrate varied viewpoints, experiences, and philosophies through their work. Ranging from folklore tales and Greek mythology, to the documentation of lived experiences, reflections on transgenerational dreams and aspirations, and advocating for human rights and women’s rights, the Unisa Art Collections hosts wide-ranging artistic representations by women artists.
The transformative collection policy of the gallery has led to the collection of internationally and nationally acclaimed artists such as Nandipha Mntambo, Sir Muholi Muholi, Mary Sibande, Aida Mulneh Philiswa Lila, Deborah Bell, Wilma Cruise, Kim Berman, Bridget Baker, Thuli Mekondjo, Usha Seejarim, and Jeanette Elhers, amongst others, all representative of what it is to be human and to be a woman. With many more artists to be discovered and collected, the Unisa Art Gallery aims at contributing to the sustainability and visibility of women artists within the country and abroad by collecting and showcasing artistic renditions of women artists with the vision of increasing art history scholarship on women artists.