About five years ago, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art determined that only 11 percent of the artists with works in its collection — those identified by name, as opposed to anonymous traditional artisans — were women. The museum then embarked on an ambitious push to acquire more work by women, doubling its holdings by female artists to 22 percent today.
Drawn from its permanent collection, the exhibition “I Am . . . Contemporary Women Artists of Africa” highlights these efforts, featuring modern and contemporary work by 27 artists, including some who are internationally recognized, such as Ghada Amer, Zanele Muholi and Wangechi Mutu, and others whose names will probably be unfamiliar to most visitors. About two-thirds of the pieces were acquired since 2014. Most have not previously been shown in Washington.
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