An early start to celebrating the US centennial of women’s suffrage: San Jose Museum of Art celebrates visionary female artists

Pae White | The Art Newspaper | By Jori Finkel

Pae White,  Beta Space , Installation view at San Jose Museum of Art, 2019.

Pae White, Beta Space, Installation view at San Jose Museum of Art, 2019.

Women gained the right to vote through the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution in August 1920, and various cultural groups are getting ready to celebrate that centennial with themed events and exhibitions. But the San Jose Museum of Art got an early start, framing 2019 as the “year of visionary women artists.”

The institution kicked off the program in the spring with a pair of shows, one focusing on Jay DeFeo’s use of photography and another on the contemporary artist Catherine Wagner’s science-inspired imaging (think prints made from MRI machines). Currently on view at the museum, which marks its 50th anniversary this fall, is the first mid-career retrospective of the Calcutta-born, New York-based artist Rina Banerjee and new work by the Los Angeles artist Pae White.

“When you’re getting ready for an anniversary, you start mining your history to see what you want to celebrate, and for us it’s our visionary women founders and these women artists we wanted to show,” says the museum’s executive director, Susan Sayre Batton. She said the other impetus was the centennial of the votes in the US House and Senate for women’s suffrage in May and June of 1919. 

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