A Focus on Women At OMCA
Every March, we take a moment to recognize some of the inspiring women who’s work graces the galleries and who walk the hallways of OMCA. In 2022, we highlighted five lesser known women artists with work in our Gallery of California Art, and it 2019 our team participated in the #5WomenArtists challenge by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. This year, we’re highlighting a few of the ways you can celebrate women this month at OMCA. Make a plan to visit OMCA!
Get inspired by prominent women-identifying artists and activists at OMCA
Take an afternoon this month (or any month) to get inspired by some of the most prominent women artists featured in the galleries at OMCA. There are dozens of women-identifying artists with artworks in the Gallery of California Art, but here are three artists to look out for:
- Hung Liu
Hung Liu is known for paintings based on historical Chinese photographs, which often challenge the documentary authority of history and uncover cultural and personal narratives. Liu is a two time recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in painting. A retrospective of her work, Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu, was organized in 2013 by the Oakland Museum of California, and toured nationally.
- Dorothea Lange
World-renowned documentary photographer Dorothea Lange played an important role in humanizing the impact the Great Depression had on America. Her photographs were designed to provoke social and political change, involving questions of class, race, and justice. She endeavored to motivate Americans by helping them to see suffering and injustice, by stimulating their empathy, and by rendering faceless crowds into recognizable individuals. Explore Lange’s powerful work on our Dorothea Lange Digital Archive
- Rosie Lee Tompkins (new artwork)
In 2020, OMCA acquired the work Chair with embroidery and applique by Rosie Lee Tompkins (1936–2006), who is also known as Effie Mae Howard. A deeply spiritual person, Tompkins approached her craft as a form of healing, embroidering her textiles with bible verses, the birth dates of her family, her given name, and other personal details. This chair is now on display in the Craft Bay of the Gallery of California Art.
By the way, did you see that the New York Times recently called OMCA the best place to see art in California?
And of course there is Angela Davis, the international icon and activist, who is the feature of our special exhibition, Angela Davis–Seize the Time, on view through June 11, 2023. Read more about the exhibition and the woman behind the Angela Davis archive, Lizbet Tellefsen.
Dine at Town Fare Cafe by Chef Michele McQueen
The heart and soul of Town Fare, the cafe at OMCA, is Chef Michele McQueen, formerly the chef at Gussie’s Chicken and Waffles and four other Bay Area eateries.
McQueen’s menu for Town Fare pays homage to her family roots and Oakland upbringing and aims to bring together flavors from the diverse cultures within the local community. Her menu is made up of shared plates, salads and sandwiches, and entrées, including vegan options, for on-site on Wed.–Sun., from 11 am to 5pm with a special brunch on Sun.
Watch Angela Davis in conversation last month on the OMCA stage
In January 2023, OMCA hosted several incredible women on the stage for a powerful conversation Abolition: A Multi-Generational Perspective, now available on YouTube for you to watch. The aforementioned international icon, Angela Davis, spoke with former Oakland Youth Poet Laureate and author of the critically-acclaimed novel, Nightcrawling, Leila Mottley, and National Movement Building Director from the Black Organizing Project (B.O.P.), Jessica Black, whose long-term and ultimately successful efforts abolished the OUSD police force. Special performances during this event include a spoken word by director, playwright, arts educator and Oakland Poet Laureate Ayodele Nzinga PhD, and a dance performance by Destiny Junior Company.
Watch Abolition: A Multi-Generational Perspective.
Shop women merchants in the OMCA Shop
One of the goals of OMCA’s merchandiser, Idit Agam, is to ensure the diversity of Oakland is reflected by the merchants featured in the OMCA Shop. They have curated a small selection of products made by women merchants so here is an opportunity to shop away!
Did you hear that we have a new Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs?
We’re thrilled that curator, author, historian, educator, and multidisciplinary arts leader, Makeda Best, is joining the senior director staff as the new Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs. Best comes to OMCA after serving at Harvard University Art Museums as Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography, and previously as Assistant Professor of Visual Studies at California College of the Arts.
At OMCA, Best will lead planning and implementation of exhibitions and will oversee all aspects of management of and access to the Museum’s nearly 2 million items in its collections that focus on the art, history and natural sciences of California.
“We are excited and honored to have Makeda Best join us with vision, expertise and energy across many areas. We look forward to her work that will add depth and insight to our mission of creating positive social impact through exhibitions, collections presentations, and community engagement,” said Lori Fogarty, CEO and Director of OMCA. “Her keen interest and deep experience in interdisciplinary storytelling to invite, welcome and inspire the community are ideal assets for Oakland and OMCA.”
Get excited about Leila Mottley coming to OMCA
Last July, Oakland native and author Leila Mottley took the literary world by storm with her critically-acclaimed debut novel, Nightcrawling. Mottley became the youngest ever Booker Prize nominee and the youngest author ever picked for Oprah’s Book Club, and next month she will grace the OMCA stage once again for a homecoming evening celebrating the official release of the paperback version of Nightcrawling.
On April 12, in conversation with journalist and UC Berkeley professor, Shereen Marisol Meraji, Mottley will discuss her book, the topics and themes explored in the novel, growing up in Oakland and how it influenced her writing and voice, and her hopes for the future of Oakland and its young people.
And those are just some of the ways to celebrate women this month. Of course, there are eleven other months and plenty more women to celebrate. Learn more about visiting OMCA.
image: headshots courtesy of the artists. Hung Liu, Visage VI, oil on canvas, 52×48, Collection of the Oakland Museum of California. Gift of Daryl and John Lillie.