Breaking the Frame: Women Artists in the Harn Collections

September 24, 2020 - May 9, 2021

Breaking the Frame marks the Harn’s 30th Anniversary through an installation that celebrates the growth of its collection of work by important women artists. The exhibition aligns itself with the 100th Anniversary of women’s suffrage. That victory didn’t secure voting rights for all, so the battle continues until all women are heard and counted. The exhibition reflects the museum’s robust effort since 2012 to enhance its representation of women artists’ works and includes a number of recent acquisitions. 
The exhibition is drawn from the Harn’s five principal collecting areas: Contemporary, African, Asian, Modern, and Photography. Thirty-four artists and forty-four international artworks are featured in painting, mixed media, photography, prints, drawings, ceramics, sculpture, and fiber arts. A special acquisition, and very current addition to the show, addresses our present pandemic in four poignant photographs by Rania Matar.
Breaking the Frame explores gender roles, sexuality, equity, diversity, adversity, and inclusion. By celebrating women artists as innovators, the exhibition illuminates their role in strengthening community, advocating for social justice, and querying female identity. Most importantly it galvanizes our understanding of the value of women artists in advancing equality in our society, and the need for all museums to promote a more equitable representation of their work.

Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Class of 1940 Bicentennial Associate Professor, Department of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania discusses the work of two artists whose work is currently on view in Breaking the Frame in her lecture “Metabolizing Memory: Cyclical History in the Work of Kara Walker and Carrie Mae Weems,” recorded December 1, 2020. Watch here.


Image credits
Slide 1
Left: Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled, 2008, gelatin silver print, Museum purchase, funds provided by the Caroline Julier and James G. Richardson Acquisition Fund
Right: Sachiko Fujino, Untitled (Petal Folds), 2006, stoneware, Museum purchase, gift of the Jeffrey E. Horvitz Foundation in honor of Budd Harris Bishop
Slide 2
Left: Beauty Ngxongo, Lidded Basket, 2005, fibers, Anonymous gift
Right: Rania Matar, Ruth, Boston, Massachusetts, 2020, 2020, archival pigment print, Museum purchase, funds provided by the David A. Cofrin Acquisition Endowment
Slide 3
Left: Maria Sibylla Merian, Inga Species, 1705, hand-colored engraving, Museum purchase, funds provided by Lawrence Reed Miller
Right: Kara Walker, Resurrection Story without Patrons, 2017, etching with aquatint, sugar-life, spit-bite and dry-point, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Caroline Julier and James G. Richardson Acquisition Fund