Arts / Galleries

Dejected Housewives Arise Feminism Ascendent in a Bold New Dallas Exhibit

A Preview of "Finding Our Way," Storming The Mac Later This Month

BY // 03.11.20

“Finding Our Way,” March 21 to May 10, at The MAC

One of the most meaningful bodies of work this season is a rediscovered trove of black-and-white images taken nearly 40 years ago, during the height of the second wave of feminism. The artists — women leaving behind confining marriages and seeking creative expression — escaped to the country together on weekly jaunts to an old farmhouse and its surrounding acreage outside Houston. But this was not about the bucolic: It was a radical shedding of both clothes and prescribed roles that led the friends to their true selves — hence, the series title, “Finding Our Way,” by collaborators Mary Margaret Hansen and Patsy Cravens.

Hansen recounted the organic experience: “Patsy Cravens and I took a series of nude photographs of one another in the early 1980s, when we hightailed it out of Houston after carpooling kids to school so we could spend the day photographing at her family’s farm near Weimer, Texas. Each carried a tripod, camera bag, and plenty of film. We wore little but knee-high boots to protect from snakes and rough terrain.

“We explored, rebelled, and sought what we called freedom from traditional roles of wife, mom, community volunteer, carpool chauffeur, family cook, and PTA president. At the time, we each faced consequential life decisions about our families and our lives as women. We were on the verge of defying expectations.”

Finding Our Way
Hansen and Craven’s “Just Playin'” was a 1982 collaboration.

A show like this deserved to travel — and now it will. The MAC director Rachel Rogerson has stepped up as organizing curator in Dallas, where “Finding Our Way” is the centerpiece of an innovative spring at the museum, led off by “On the Surface,” a cultural exchange between six female Dallas and Houston artists.

Hansen and Cravens’ installation fortuitously coincides with Make Art with Purpose DFW Festival 2020, timed to the centennial of the passing of the 19th Amendment. Tahila Corwin Mintz also screens a video in the art space’s new media gallery, which speaks to indigenous women’s roles within their culture.

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