Ghada Amer (b. 1963) was born in Cairo, Egypt. She earned a B.F.A. in 1986 and an M.F.A. in 1989 from École Pilote Internationale d’Art et de Recherche, Villa Arson, Nice, France. In 1997 she was the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, and in 1999, she received the UNESCO award at the Venice Biennale. She has had solo exhibitions at San Francisco Art Institute; De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Ind.; Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Spain; Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass.; H&R Block Artspace at Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri.; and Gagosian Gallery, New York. Her work has been exhibited in group shows at such venues as Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Deste Foundation Centre for Contemporary Art, Athens; National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C.; Queens Museum of Art, New York; İstanbul Modern Sanat Müzesi; and AroS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark. She participated in the Johannesburg Biennale in 1997, the Venice Biennale in 1999; the Kwangju Biennale, South Korea, and the Whitney Biennial, both in 2000; and the Venice Biennale in 2005. Amer’s work can be found in numerous prominent collections including the following: Art Institute of Chicago; Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama.; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf; Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; and Tel Aviv Museum of Art. She now lives and works in New York.
Feminist Artist Statement
The history of art was written by men, in practice and in theory. Painting has a symbolic and dominant place inside this history, and in the twentieth century it became the major expression of masculinity, especially through abstraction. For me, the choice to be mainly a painter and to use the codes of abstract painting, as they have been defined historically, is not only an artistic challenge: its main meaning is occupying a territory that has been denied to women historically. I occupy this territory aesthetically and politically because I create materially abstract paintings, but I integrate in this male field a feminine universe: that of sewing and embroidery. By hybridizing those worlds, the canvas becomes a new territory where the feminine has its own place in a field dominated by men, and from where, I hope, we won’t be removed again. I integrate this same feminine universe into my gardens. When I had to start working outdoors I needed to find some kind of translation, something I could do instead of embroidery, but something that had the same idea. So I thought, “What can a woman do outside?” Gardening was a woman’s activity just like embroidery. This is how I decided to create gardens. My work starts always as a slight critique, then I take it seriously and I try to find the beauty and poetry of these activities. I always try to connect both ideology and aesthetics in my work as a painter or a sculptor, in one way or another. I am very much interested in this specific relationship. Aesthetics alone are not enough for me and a message alone is just propaganda.
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