The Institute For Women and Art at Rutgers University
Ferris Olin, Ph.D. co-directs the Institute for Women and Art at Rutgers University with Judith K. Brodsky, founder of the Brodsky Center for Innovative Print in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The institute opened in 2006 with the mission of joining the forces of feminist artists, writers and teachers and bringing more widespread visibility to women’s art. “I was honored in great company,” says Olin. “We are all passionate in our mission and it’s my life’s work.”
The center sponsors the longest-running exhibition space dedicated to emerging and established contemporary women artists. Visitors can peruse past exhibition catalogues, art historical archives, and contemporary art made by women.
Olin has curated women’s art shows for the last fifteen years. Her accomplishments include leadership in the Feminist Art Project, dedicated to mentoring feminist artists nationally and internationally and to providing education to a wide range of audiences. The organization includes 29 regional and national coordinators, and international interest as far afield as Mexico and Romania is growing. One of the organization’s latest exhibitions explores women’s contributions in the invention of American Postmodernism, in which myriad forms of print have played a major role.
Brodsky helped establish the Institute for Women and Art and is the first artist to become president of the Women’s Caucus for Art. “Up until then, women’s art had been in the trenches so long,” she says.
A defining accomplishment for Brodsky is the establishment of the Brodsky Center of Innovative Editions, founded in 1986 (formerly known as the Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper). As an artist and printmaker, her passion lies in introducing the art form to underrepresented groups—gays, lesbians, artists of color, and inhabitants of Third-World countries and Eastern Europe—while also providing recognition equity for them.
“Women have explored media in innovative ways before the mainstream adopted them. Today it is still crucial that women transform the art world not just politically but aesthetically as well,” Brodsky says. Consequently, while continuing to foster traditional print methods, the center also offers opportunities for artists to explore the latest technological media—film, video, the Web, and installation. “The digital age is an age of print,” she emphasizes.
As market conditions go, she is cautiously optimistic at best. “Today, far more women artists are able to show their work, but it’s still bad,” she notes. “They are still underrepresented in galleries and museums—the higher end of the market.”