Downtown Tampa museums honor women's history

With 2020 marking the centennial of women's suffrage (the right to vote) and the upcoming November election, it seems more important than ever to shine a light on the voices of the underrepresented. 

The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, the University of Tampa’s Scarfone/Hartley Gallery, and the Tampa Museum of Art are concurrently featuring exhibitions starring women and their stories.
 
Opening at FMoPA the last week of August is REFRAMED, an exhibition of four film-based women artists who focus on worldwide female stereotypes and prejudices. While many depictions of women in museums and galleries come from a male gaze, this exhibition hopes to shift this typical view to that of women looking at women.
 
"Our role in the 21st century is to create a space [in which] you can slow down and think about events or learn something about them,'' says Zora Carrier, Executive Director of the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts. "We want viewers to be thinking about differences -- not on the political side but on the human side.''

"This is about the overlooked female image and position in society overall looked at as less capable,'' Carrier says. "The structures of the family and the position of the woman right behind a male figure is something that has defined the female figure in the past. This is not just about western civilization, it is happening all over the world.''
 
To supplement the exhibition, a virtual panel discussion open to the public will be held in conjunction with the Fourth Friday Artwalk in October.
 
Just across the Hillsborough River, the University of Tampa’s Scarfone/Hartley Gallery will be amplifying the work of women painters in their group exhibition Rising Voices: Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Realist Painters opening Aug. 28. A virtual/in-person combo opening reception from 6 to 8 pm. is open to the public. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

The Bennett Prize is an inaugural art prize funded by Steven Bennett and Elaine Melotti Schmidt specifically awarded to women figurative realist painters, with a hefty $50,000 purse. The 10 2019 finalists will be exhibited along with the winner, Aneka Ingold, a Tampa artist who teaches part-time at UT.
 
“This particular show is vital because it is the first-ever Bennett Prize exhibition, and the prize’s major focus is to get women in more collections across the country. We are proud to bring Ingold’s work her and it was fortuitous that all of this fell into place at the same time,” Jocelyn Boigenzahn, the Director of the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery explains. “Right now more than anything, I think it’s important for us to revisit some of the positives of 2020 and celebrate things that we would have before everything shifted [with COVID-19]. We want to bring to light and reconsider certain elements of womanhood that we all share. That is what is so great about this show. It’s a common story of women today, and unifying in its diversity.”
 
The prize winner Ingold will be doing a hybrid in-person/virtual artist talk on Sept. 18 at 2 p.m. The museum plans to have one or two more artists do virtual talks via Zoom. Follow the gallery on Facebook for the latest info.
 
Last but not least, the Tampa Museum of Art is now featuring women’s tales from the past in the exhibition HerStory: Stories of Ancient Heroines & Everyday Women, which has been open since the end of July. Enforcing the notion of empowered women, the show explores narratives of ancient depictions of women, from mythological beings to moral women of the past.
 

Read more articles by Caitlin Albritton.

Caitlin Albritton is a freelance writer based in Tampa with a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and a MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art. When she's not looking at art throughout town, she can be found making it. You can keep up with her visual art on Instagram @caitlinalbritton or on her website. Visit her recent line of inlay “wearable paintings.”
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