The six female artists whose work is featured in Women Look Out, a new exhibit at the Arena1 Gallery in Santa Monica, have a deep connection to social justice.
The work of each artist is inspired by a social issue. Many became personally committed to their issue and intend for their work to form an avenue for advocacy. For instance, Stephanie Sinclair founded a nonprofit organization, Too Young to Wed, in the course of documenting child, early and forced marriage.
The strong connection between the artists and their issues does not simplify the work in any way. Instead, the images invite the viewer to consider the issue and their own feelings about it. “Each of the photographers is using a lens to invite our gaze on her subjects, of course, but she is also inviting us to join her in looking out for and caring for them as well,” curator Sherry Frumkin said. Frumkin believes this engagement with viewers “distinguishes these photos from other photography, which can feel distanced and indifferent.”
The concept for the exhibition came together fairly quickly. Frumkin was discouraged by the Trump administration’s handling of Holocaust Remembrance Day and Black History Month and decided she wanted to do something during Women’s History Month.
After a meeting with Iris Schneider to look at her photos of work being done in Kenya by the Samburu Project, it became clear to Frumkin that Schneider and the other artists “shared a similar vision” despite how different their subjects were.
The editing process was straightforward. Frumkin was already familiar with much of the work, and so a main concern was how much she could include “without overwhelming the space.” In the end, Frumkin put together a selection of work that suggests a powerful concept: “women looking out at the world and caring about it and asking us to do that too.”
The exhibit will be on display through April 8 at the Arena1 Gallery, 3026 Airport Ave., in Santa Monica. The gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.