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Women to Watch 2020: "Paper Routes"

Elizabeth Alexander, All Things Bright and Beautiful (side 1), 2019; Cast paper and extracted wallpaper pattern, 92 x 124 x 40 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Photo by Mitchell Kearney.

How do women artists respond to the many uses and cultural associations of paper?

Paper Routes, the sixth installment of the Women to Watch exhibition series, highlights and celebrates the diversity of approaches and the transformation of this ubiquitous and eclectic material into complex works of art. The artists rely on traditional as well as innovative techniques: some highlight the delicate properties of paper through meticulous cuts, resulting in elaborate forms, patterns, and designs; others compact and consolidate the material, forming surprisingly dense and monumental sculptures.

Lisa Tung, Executive Director of the MassArt Art Museum, selected the short list of Massachusetts artists: Elizabeth Alexander, Carly Glovinski, Tomashi Jackson and Youjin Moon.

Learn more about Paper Routes

NMWA selects Elizabeth Alexander to represent Massachusetts in Paper Routes: Women to Watch 2020

Alexander's experience growing up in a working class family in the US Rust Belt sparked her interest in probing the American Dream. Her found-object sculptures and installations explore elements of human behavior in an unfettered consumer society. By examining the triggering power of a piece of furniture, a discarded item of clothing, or a chipped porcelain mug, she uncovers the hidden emotional layers in the walls of our homes.

A “neurodivergent thinker, rejuvenated by the embrace of narrative and decorative aesthetics,” she notes that “labored processes unearth the human presence within our material surroundings, and explore home as a place that is shaped by our stories. Moments where those stories seep through the cracks are probed to reveal what might lay behind the façade. This work pulls at the threads of the home as a symbol, and envisions the realities of private space.”

Learn more about Elizabeth Alexander

About Women to Watch

Women to Watch is an exhibition program designed to increase the visibility of, and critical response to, promising women artists who are deserving of national and international attention.

Women to Watch is developed specifically for the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ national and international outreach committees. Every two to three years, the National Museum of Women in the Arts hosts an exhibition featuring under-represented and emerging women artists from the states and countries in which the museum has outreach committees. Each exhibition focuses on a specific medium or theme chosen by the museum’s curators.

An outstanding contemporary curator, selected by the committee and approved by NMWA, nominates a short list of artists working within the chosen medium. NMWA’s curator then selects a single artist from these nominees for the Women to Watch exhibition in Washington.

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