Haynes Galleries presents
“Women Painting Women: A Room of One’s Own”
August 23 to October 5, 2013
Reception: Friday, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. August 23, 2013

NASHVILLE — Haynes Galleries is pleased to present “Women Painting Women: A Room of One’s Own,” a collection of work by women artists who follow in the figurative tradition of depicting the female form. The title is inspired by Virginia Woolf’s famous essay, which maintains that a woman needs personal space, equal opportunity to her male counterparts, and poetic license to create art. The exhibit will explore how contemporary women artists approach a subject that has transfixed artists — mostly male — for centuries. “Women Painting Women: A Room of One’s Own” will be on view from Aug. 23 to Oct. 5 at 1600 Division St., on the Music Row Roundabout. An opening reception is planned for 6-8 p.m. Aug. 23. The event is free and open to the public.

The exhibition is an offshoot of the Women Painting Women blog (www.womenpaintingwomen.blogspot.com), which artists Sadie Valeri, Alia El-Bermani and Diane Feissel founded in 2009. What began as an online resource and catalog highlighting underrepresented women artists working in the figurative tradition has grown to encompass more than 260 painters worldwide. Haynes Galleries represents and has shown the work of many of these artists — including Alia El-Bermani, Ellen Cooper, Alexandra Tyng, Lea Colie Wight, Joyce Tenneson, Milixa Morón, Grace DeVito, Renee Foulks, Susan Lyon, Celeste Ryder and Janvier Rollande — but never in a comprehensive group show like “A Room of One’s Own.”

“They are helping redefine the feminine influence and muse in contemporary art, something that historically was defined by male artists, and they continually produce insightful and novel work,” says gallery owner Gary Haynes.

The Women Painting Women group has presented two prior group exhibitions — the first in 2010 at Robert Lange Studios in Charleston, SC, the second in 2012 at Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA — which were met with critical and public acclaim.

The Haynes Galleries show promises to be a blockbuster. Viewers can expect to see highly skilled yet varied approaches as these artists confront questions of individuality, femininity, beauty, identity, psychology and humor.

“These artists all have their own ideas of what it means to be a woman today,” says Alia El-Bermani. “Some have used themselves as the main subject, others have chosen to represent their friends and daughters. No matter who the sitter may have been, the images cumulatively present universal ideas on what it is to be human.”

For Milixa Morón, a Venezuelan artist whose iconic images are intended to transcend the boundaries of time and place, the process of painting is all-encompassing. Her work often includes symbols or mythological references that make her paintings at once contemporary and timeless.

“I strive to paint these kinds of themes not only because I like them but also because I love the feeling they transmit to me,” she says. “For a while I become them. I feel their knowledge, their pain or agony, their power, their mystery.”

Katie O’Hagan’s canvases captivate with their beauty and discomfit with their narratives. The women in her paintings have complex — and at times disturbing and dark — tales to tell. The juxtaposition is truly gripping.

Lea Colie Wight is drawn to subjects that intrigue her, but that’s only the beginning. As she says, “I start out with one painting in mind, thinking I know my model, only to have the painting take on a life of its own.” As the painting unfolds, it becomes more complex, more direct, more powerful.

The breadth and diversity of works on view in this show is admirable — but it shouldn’t be surprising, according to El-Bermani.

“If we agree that women today — and historically — are making compelling works that represent the female figure and yet those works are getting less recognition and exposure than similar works by their male peers, that tells me that there is a need to champion these works and the artists who create them,” El-Bermani says.

The show is a perfect fit for the Haynes Galleries vision. Since opening his galleries in Maine and Nashville, Gary R. Haynes has been committed to presenting the best of American Realism from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries — including a broad and deep range of work from women artists including Ruth Bernhard, Ann Wyeth McCoy, and Carolyn and Henriette Wyeth, along with a host of the finest contemporary realists, many of whom are represented in this group.