Woman Made Gallery is located in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago and has several exhibitions per year that feature art from female and nonbinary artists. Each exhibition has a poignant theme that deals with women’s issues. This non-profit gallery gives all artists, whether beginners or experts, a platform to share their artwork and stories. Learn more here!
What inspired you to start Woman Made Gallery?
We opened in 1992, so in 2022 we celebrated our 30 year anniversary. I went back to school at Northeastern Illinois University when I was 44 years old to take art classes. I took classes in feminist art and saw exhibitions of art that addressed women’s issues. The school had no formal art gallery space, so when it came time for me to display my senior project, a friend and I rented a studio space to show our work. My senior showcase was a huge success, and women started reaching out asking if they could use our studio space to showcase their own art. We sent out a call for art, and our first exhibition got a write-up in a local paper. More and more people got involved, and we grew into a vibrant community.
What kind of art and artists do you feature?
We have 7-10 shows each year and the exhibitions address social issues that affect women, like immigration, the environment, war and peace, domestic violence, and motherhood. Some artists have pieces already created that fit the topic, and some create a piece for the exhibition. Our art is from women and nonbinary artists. Our upcoming show opens on January 28th and is called “Roe 2.0” in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. In addition to art, there will be stories about women’s experiences with abortion. During the pandemic, we figured out how to do virtual exhibitions and we do some virtual ones still. We have a virtual exhibition coming up in the spring about mental health.
What else do you provide besides a place for artists to display their pieces?
Before the pandemic, we had poetry readings that corresponded to the exhibition topic. The readers would address the topics in their spoken words. We haven’t been able to bring that back yet, but we intend to soon. Each exhibition also has a workshop to go along with it. For the upcoming “Roe 2.0” show, we have a healing workshop for people to talk about birth and abortion in a safe space. Our workshops are free to the public. It’s liberating for many women to see art on the walls and participate in workshops that are about topics that impact them, it shows that they aren’t alone. It’s not easy for artists to find a commercial space that is willing to showcase art that deals with difficult issues like these, and it’s amazing that we can do that.
What has been the best part of starting the Woman Made Gallery?
I love hearing the responses from people who have showcased with us, performed with us, been at our workshops, or volunteered with us. We are a stepping stone for new and emerging artists to have their work shown in a professional setting, many for the first time. Our artists learn the essentials like how to price their work, ship their work, and write an artist statement. Since 1992, we have shown works from more than 9,000 women and nonbinary artists from all levels of their careers in over 450 exhibitions. We are really proud of those achievements and it wouldn’t be possible without our volunteers, board members, staff, donors, artists, and curators. It takes more than a village to get this done, but it’s all a labor of love.