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Collective Conciousness

Curated by Kathryn Myers and Jayanthi Moorthy


Cooperative Consciousness introduces the work of sixteen A.I.R. Gallery artists in

New York, the pioneering and longest-running cooperative feminist gallery in the

United States. Launched in 1972 and located in SoHo, A.I.R. (Artists in Residence,

Inc.) is presently located in Dumbo, Brooklyn. For over four decades, A.I.R. has

provided a crucial professional exhibition platform, mentorship, and networking

opportunities for women artists. A.I.R. artists appreciate the value of community

and fellowship in an increasingly market-driven art scene that fosters

competitiveness and isolation.

The multi-generation group of women included in the exhibition Cooperative

Consciousness typifies A.I.R. artists as having exceptionally diverse creative

practices. Their work offers a wealth of inquiry and insights into mutable and

shifting senses of identity that might be defined by gender, race, ethnicity,

generation, or geography. Through diverse experimental approaches and the use of

materials, several themes emerge that create connecting currents among works

of art in this exhibition.

Artists' Work

Louise McCagg, Nancy Morrow, Jayanthi Moorthy, Alisa Henriquez, Shannon Forester, Julia Kim Smith, and Jody Joldersma, evoke unique and universal, unfixed, fluid, and shifting senses of personal, social, or cultural identity. A fragmentation of the internal space and boundaries of their images amplifies the potent and poetic issues and experiences they respond to and address. An uncanny mash-up of materials sourced from the trash through the internet propels new forms and meaning in the works of Daria Dorosh, Yvette Dubinsky, Jane Gilmor, d’Ann de Simone, and Melissa Furness.

Reclaimed, recycled, and recombined materials and images are catalysts for investigations of collective history, travel, and culture as well as feminine and gender identity. Traversing permeable boundaries between abstraction and representation, Jane Swavely, Joan Snitzer, Maxine Henryson, Mimi Oritsky, and Shannon Forester provoke cerebral and formal dialogues with art history, culture, space, and

sensation. Through the interplay of optics and perception, they attempt to visualize imperceptible forms, feelings, and forces through both the tactile presence and the elusive subtlety of material and form.

Meet The Artists

Artworks In The Show

Exhibit Programs

During the course of the exhibit, there were a number of exhibit programs for audiences of different age groups. There were panel discussions, artist talks, and workshops for undergrad students and women.

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Essential or Essentialized?

The past, potential and current place of artist-run women artist’s cooperatives

In the 1970’s, energized by a groundswell of feminist activism, and fueled by Linda Nochlin’s fraught questioning of why there were great women artists, pioneering women’s cooperative galleries such as the A.I.R. gallery began to reshape the gallery landscape and culture. The idea that female “essence” could be contained in an exhibition space was paralleled by fears that women artists might be “ghettoized,” and that “cooperative,” as an alternative to “commercial,” meant a compromised standard. This panel will explore the different reasons artists have and still choose to join women’s cooperatives, the challenges involved in setting up and sustaining them, and the changing role they have played in the art world at large and the lives of artists. This panel will also explore the visibility and potentialities of women’s galleries in India.

Speakers:  Yvette Drury Dubinsky, 

Margaret Lanzetta, Pradosh Mishra, 

Jayanthi Moorthy, Nancy Morrow,

Sharmila Sagara

Moderator: Kathryn Myers


Women Run Societies And What Can We Learn From Them

Kerala has a matriarchal society and is one of the five other places in the world that practice this form of society. The term matriarchy can be used to define woman- or mother-centered societies that are based on maternal values and principles, like nurturing and caretaking. Matriarchies can be found at the social, economic, political, spiritual, and cultural levels.

The panel will explore the importance of matriarchies and imagined utopias of women-run societies, as existed at some time in the distant past or could be re-created in a possible future, and how the definitions of gendered power themselves might have shifted in relation to varying social and historical contexts.

Speakers: Shailaja Menon, Dr. Mridul Eapen 

Moderator: Radhika Rajashekaran


In-person and Online

Every week participating A.I.R. artists will talk about their art practice and open dialogues with the audience on aspects of feminism related to gender, race, identity, environment, etc. The goal is to have a cross-cultural exchange of ideas and for everyone to learn together or simply share experiences.