By Melissa Laker and Brittany Tesoriero
Seven years ago, a friend urged Margaret Denning to join Women Sharing Art Inc., but she felt she wasn’t ready. This year, Denning thought she could share her work, and submitted a painting to a gallery on eastern Long Island.
It was rejected.
But as one door closed, another one would open, Denning believed. And now, her art sits pride of place on top of the mantel at the Arboretum Inspirations Exhibit at Bayard Cutting Arboretum which opened April 6, 2017 and will run until Sunday, May 21, 2017.
“This is a wonderful group of women, I mean so supportive and this is really the first show for me here with this group so it’s very, very exciting,” Denning said.
In the United States, artwork produced by females only makes up three to five percent of work in major permanent collections, according to The National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Now in their ninth year, Women Sharing Art Inc. has grown in size from its original five artists to twenty-six this year, where 100 percent of the walls at their exhibits feature the work of female artists.
“We’re working on it, we sure are,” artist and cofounder of Women Sharing Art Inc, Pat D’Aversa said. “We have grown so much and we have “invaded” places,” she joked. “We’re taking baby steps but we have a wide range, we’re representing a wide range of art and artists.”
Inspired by nature, the exhibit makes it easy to think of flowers and trees in the spring, but one visitor was prompted to think about something more.
“I really enjoy going to Museum of Modern Art,” visitor to Arboretum Inspirations, Christine Chorowski said. “When I think about it, at the top of my head, how many female artists can we really name, apart from O’Keefe and the big ones? It gave me a moment to think about that.”
Less than 4 percent of artists in the Modern Art section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art are women compared to the 95 percent of male artists; however, 76 percent of the nude artworks are of women not men, according to The Guerrilla Girls.
“It is a little puzzling, because so many men enjoy the female form, and its incorporated in so many pictures, but where are the references to those women?” Chorowski said.
The underrepresentation of women in the art world or underrepresentation of women all together, was something most visitors had something to say about.
“I’m hearing about the underrepresentation of women in everything,” Cathy Casanova said. “So, I am starting to become more aware of this issue in general, politics, economics, social.”
Artists included in the exhibit can spend months on their work, depending on which art technique they choose, but the work for them doesn’t end there.
“We have a lot of perfectionism,” D’Aversa said. “As artists we can be perfectionists, so just hanging up the show takes forever, cause it’s got to be completely perfectly lined up.”
Each artwork on display is for sale and 20 percent of the proceeds will benefit the Bayard Cutting Arboretum.