Riot Grrrls

At the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Art page: Hedda Gabler by Molly Zuckerman-Hartung (2011). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago. Above: Portrait (Stubborn) by Jackie Saccoccio (2013). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, restricted gift of Emerge. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

BY: Liz MacDonald

Fact: women get marginalized. Also a fact: when it happens, women get loud and make themselves heard. The art world is no exception. Riot Grrrls, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is a direct response to gender bias with a celebration of bold, breakthrough abstract painting. 

Curator Michael Darling has pulled selections from the MCA’s existing collection (some more recent acquisitions on display for the first time) as a representation of overlooked but important painting created by women. “This is a battle that should have been won a long time ago, but it still persists,” he comments. “What these women are doing can be seen as feminist statements when you stop to think how they are operating in a male-dominated field. But they are artists first—painters making great paintings.”

Riot Grrrls is, above all, an exhibition of strong, innovative work. Ten contemporary female painters are featured, from pioneering painters like Mary Heilmann to a newer crop of rebels like Molly Zuckerman-Hartung and Amy Feldman. Judy Ledgerwood’s bold commentary on the feminine and decorative, Sailor See Green, is a standout.

Riot Grrrls is on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago through June. 18. We’ve selected a few highlights from the show, below.

 

Hedda Gabler by Molly Zuckerman-Hartung (2011). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Hedda Gabler by Molly Zuckerman-Hartung (2011). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

 

Alastor by Charline von Heyl (2008). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Mary and Earle Ludgin by exchange. © 2008 Charline von Heyl. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Alastor by Charline von Heyl (2008). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Mary and Earle Ludgin by exchange. © 2008 Charline von Heyl. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

 

Silver Batman II by Joyce Pensato (2012). © 2012 Joyce Pensato. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Silver Batman II by Joyce Pensato (2012). © 2012 Joyce Pensato. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

 

Sailors See Green by Judy Ledgerwood (2013). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Katherine S. Schamberg by exchange. © 2013 Judy Ledgerwood. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Sailors See Green by Judy Ledgerwood (2013). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Katherine S. Schamberg by exchange. © 2013 Judy Ledgerwood. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

 

Metropolitan by Mary Heilmann (1999). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Mary and Earle Ludgin by exchange. © 1999 Mary Heilmann. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Metropolitan by Mary Heilmann (1999). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Mary and Earle Ludgin by exchange. © 1999 Mary Heilmann. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

 

Dele by Tomma Abts (2014). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Marshall Field’s by exchange. Photo: Marcus Leith.
Dele by Tomma Abts (2014). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Marshall Field’s by exchange. Photo: Marcus Leith.

 

One of the Beaux Paintings (#4) by Ree Morton (1975). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Pritzker Traubert Visionary Art Acquisition Fund.
One of the Beaux Paintings (#4) by Ree Morton (1975). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Pritzker Traubert Visionary Art Acquisition Fund.

 

Heavy Vector by Amy Feldman (2013). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, restricted gift of the Andree Stone Emerging Artist Prize, Richard Gray Gallery, Roberta Kramer, and Emerge. © 2013 Amy Feldman. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Heavy Vector by Amy Feldman (2013). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, restricted gift of the Andree Stone Emerging Artist Prize, Richard Gray Gallery, Roberta Kramer, and Emerge. © 2013 Amy Feldman. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.