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Conversations across time

An exhibit at the Yale University Art Gallery features 150 years of art by Yale women.

“These are dialogues across time and across media,” says Elisabeth Hodermarsky, lead curator of On the Basis of Art: 150 Years of Women at Yale. The exhibit, delayed for a year by the pandemic, is on view through January 9, 2022, at the Yale University Art Gallery. The works are by 79 women who graduated from Yale over the last 150 years. On the Basis of Art continues two celebrations: the 150th anniversary of the first women admitted to the university, at what was then called the Yale School of Fine Arts; and the 50th anniversary of the first women admitted to Yale College.

Staff and students took a deep dive into the lives and works of the artists, Hodermarsky says, collecting archival and primary-source research on the women no longer living and oral histories from many of those still alive. The art itself is arranged thematically rather than chronologically, to allow for generational dialogues—as if, she notes, former MFA students were “coming back to influence the next generation.”

Hodermarsky sees the exhibit, which she says is “the first time so much work by women is represented,” as an important benchmark in a world where historical art museums are filled mostly with art made by men. But, she adds, “while the gender binary was where this came out of, what you come away with is: This is just damn good work.” 


 

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