Guerrilla Girls Target Gender Bias In Exhibit At Benton

By Susan Dunne for CTNOW

The Evelyn Simon Gilman Gallery at the William Benton Museum of Art at UConn in Storrs has 43 artworks on exhibit, some of the jewels of UConn’s collection. Of the 39 pieces whose artists are known, 34 were created by men and five by women.

In the adjacent gallery is a show of work by the Guerrilla Girls. The goal of that art-activist group is to challenge the unequal representation of female and nonwhite artists in the art world.

Jean Nihoul, curator of the Guerrilla Girls’ show, is aware of the irony of the two exhibits’ juxtaposition. He isn’t fazed by it.

“Our show here is pointing to that show. This shows that the problem is systemic and widespread and it’s applicable to us, too,” Nihoul said.

The side-by-side exhibits lend even more truth to the Guerrilla Girls’ rallying cry, which they have been calling out since 1985: That museums, galleries and collectors give overwhelmingly preferential treatment to white male artists. Since hype and exposure translate into respect and money, the Guerrilla Girls argue that female and minority nonrepresentation suppresses art, opportunity and artists’ ability to make a living.

So the exhibit at UConn levels the field, at least in that museum for now, giving a huge presence to women artists and their in-your-face message. Whether it gives a presence to nonwhite artists is unknown, because the Guerrilla Girls keep their identities secret. They wear gorilla masks when they speak in public, as they will on April 6 at UConn.

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