October 18, 2023
Thank you, Jacquie. You bring so much heart to this work. Thank you for the warm welcome today.
From soft lullabies to battle cries for justice, women nurse and nurture, teach and build, lead and dream our world forward – each and every day.
We have never been silent. But women have been silenced.
With violence and intimidation. With discrimination and isolation. With house work and family care that’s seemingly never finished – and too often, women’s responsibility alone.
Sometimes, simply raising our voices is a struggle. Simply gaining a seat at the table, a fight.
Through all these challenges, women have always been creators – sculpting meaning out of suffering, painting beauty out of pain, sketching new worlds out of the ashes of the old.
But too often, that art, and the stories within it, has been left out of the halls of our museums – has been pushed aside or forgotten.
This museum rights that wrong.
Because we deserve to tell our stories – to be a part of the history museums tell, and to have a place to come together, listen, and join in kinship and community.
Inside these walls, women’s art has space to breathe and shine. Here, women don’t have to shout to be heard, or fight for their place at the table.
And when women artists have a place to show their work, when they are recognized for it, the world begins to value them differently too – to listen to what they have to say.
Artists featured in this space have gone on to create pieces that hang in museums around the world – and even in the White House!
That was Billie’s vision.
She was a giant among us. One who spoke softly, but wielded enormous power. Anyone who knew Billie knows that when she set her mind to something, nothing was going to stand in her way. And I’m so grateful that she set her mind to this.
Winton, thank you for keeping that vision alive. You and all of the leadership here put so much heart and hard work into lifting up women’s voices.
This renovation means that more women’s works can be shown here, without limitations – so exhibitions can take the form that gives them the most power.
As an educator, I know that when we can learn from each other’s stories, we grow. And I’m so glad that there’s a place like this, one where we can come for that kind of learning. The kind that feeds our spirits when we’re hungry for something more.
That shows us the contours of our sorrows and our joys. That brings us back to the beauty and humanity in every moment.
I just had the honor of touring the new exhibition upstairs, and I felt that beauty and humanity all around me.
It pulls the viewer to become a part of something greater – a conversation between women that speaks across borders, languages, and centuries – filled with joy.
And we need men to see that beauty too, to be a part of that conversation, to celebrate women and their art.
Our hearts and hopes reach toward each other, and in that moment, we feel the hum of generations that are past and future; the gravitational pull of art as it changes us, creating something new and full of promise. And when we step away, we shine a little bit brighter, seeing the world around us in new, more beautiful, more vivid colors.
Congratulations on this beautiful space, and on 35 years of celebrating women artists, of telling our stories, and of leading the way.