THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23 / CLOSED

#5WomenArtists: Director Jeff Fleming

Posted on Friday, March 17, 2017

Can you name five women artists? Last year the National Museum of Women in the Arts began a campaign to raise awareness about the incredible—oftentimes overlooked—work of women artists. They are reviving the initiative again this year, and to celebrate Women's History Month we've be sharing works of women artists from the Art Center's collections throughout the month.

As part of this campaign, we've asked members of our staff to chose the five women artists in the Art Center's collections that have had the biggest impact on them. Today Director Jeff Fleming shares his picks.

Cecily Brown 

Cecily Brown Half-Bind

Brown is keenly aware that the past forever stalks the contemporary painter. As seen here, the traditions of painting and the history of the human figure in art serve the artist as vehicles to explore the emotive and life-giving potential of painting.

Cecily Brown (English, active United States, born 1969)
Half-Bind, 2005
Oil on linen
Canvas (/image): 103 × 83 × 1 1/2 in. (261.6 × 210.8 × 3.8 cm.)
Purchased with funds from the Coffin Fine Arts Trust; Nathan Emory Coffin Collection of the Des Moines Art Center, 2006.13
Photo Credit: Rich Sanders, Des Moines

Ellen Gallagher

Ellen Gallagher Ly

Gallagher uses the historical indicators of race, such as those used in blackface minstrel acts, to underline the mistakes of earlier cultural structures while pointing to a future when racial hierarchies no longer exist.

Ellen Gallagher (American, born 1965)
Ly, 2000
Oil, ink, plasticine, and paper on linen
Canvas (/image): 72 × 84 in. (182.9 × 213.4 cm.)
Purchased with funds from the Coffin Fine Arts Trust; Nathan Emory Coffin Collection of the Des Moines Art Center, 2001.2
Photo Credit: Rich Sanders, Des Moines

Ann Hamilton

Ann Hamilton commute 1

This unnerving image exemplifies Hamilton’s investigations into our sensory experiences and communicative functions. At first glance, it appears to be an open eye, but in actuality it depicts an open mouth holding an orthodontic mold stitched with horse hair.

Ann Hamilton (American, born 1956)
commute 1, 2001
Iris print on Arches watercolor paper
Frame: 37 1/2 × 49 7/8 × 2 1/4 in. (95.3 × 126.7 × 5.7 cm.)
Sheet: 34 1/8 × 46 1/2 in. (86.7 × 118.1 cm.)
Image: 30 × 39 in. (76.2 × 99.1 cm.)
Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Purchased with funds from the Kay Reynolds Stroud Art Fund, 2001.28
Photo Credit: Rich Sanders, Des Moines

Mona Hatoum

Mona Hatoum Hair Grids with Knots (5)

With a delicate and fragile appearance, this work is highly personal and rich with metaphoric and cultural references. Made with human hair, it carries powerful associations, including allusions to magic, the feminine, physical beauty, and adornment.

Mona Hatoum (Palestinian, active England, born 1952)
Hair Grids with Knots (5), 2010
Human hair, hair spray
Overall: 11 3/4 x 7 1/2 in. (29.8 x 19.1 cm.)
Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Purchased with funds from William and Edith King Pearson, Lewis Galantiere, Massey Ferguson Company, and Byron Ben Boyd by exchange, 2010.112
Photo Credit: Rich Sanders, Des Moines

Julie Mehretu

Julia Mehretu Entropia (review)

Mehretu creates a fantastic world of overlaying diagrams, architectural plans, and gestural flourishes. In this 32-color lithograph and screen print, her first graphic edition, Abstract Expressionism meets architectural draftsmanship. Referring to a state of entropy or disorder, this image depicts a wild world seemingly exploding from the center. 

Julie Mehretu (Ethiopian, born 1970)
Printer: Cole Rogers
Publisher: Highpoint Press
Entropia (review), 2004
Color lithograph and screenprint (32 colors) on paper
Frame: 36 × 46 3/8 × 3 in. (91.4 × 117.8 × 7.6 cm.)
Sheet: 33 1/2 x 44 in. (85.1 x 111.8 cm.)
Image: 29 x 40 in. (73.7 x 101.6 cm.)
Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Gift of the Des Moines Art Center Print Club in memory of John Holms and Suellen Chance Tone, 2005.7
Photo Credit: Rich Sanders, Des Moines

entirely unexpected