The United States has officially recognized March as Women’s History Month since 1987, but the struggle to recognize women’s achievements began long before that. Many believe that the roots of the International Women’s Day on March 8 can be traced back to New York City, where on March 8, 1857, hundreds of female garment and textile workers went on strike to protest poor working conditions and low wages. By 1908, with the rapid expansion of the women’s work force and acceleration of the labor movement, those ranks swelled to a rally of nearly 15,000 female laborers who gathered on NYC streets in what had then become an annual protest. Throughout the 20th century, the efforts continued to grow in the City and all over the globe—eventually expanding into Women’s History Week in 1980 and later encompassing the entire month of March.
This year, as in all years, women’s stories and their accomplishments—from the arts to science to acts of charity and beyond—can be celebrated all over the five boroughs. One of the world’s most impressive and influential collections of feminist works resides in the Brooklyn Museum‘s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art; here you’ll find Judy Chicago’s massive long-term installation The Dinner Party, along with temporary exhibitions like Kiki Smith’s Sojourn (see below). In Staten Island, the Alice Austen House, one of New York’s oldest buildings, harbors turn-of-the-century pictures from photographer Elizabeth Alice Austen. Also highlighting female art is El Museo del Barrio in Spanish Harlem, whose permanent collection features multimedia works from a number of Latina artists. The Lesbian Herstory Archives in Park Slope houses a variety of important cultural materials—such as those in the exhibition Queer Covers: Lesbian Survival Literature—while New York University‘s Fales Library recently welcomed the Riot Grrrl Collection, which includes photos, videos, original art, zines and more pertaining to the feminist punk movement. Some of NYC’s green spaces also honor the achievements of women, like Marie Curie Park in Queens, the Margaret Mead Green outside of the American Museum of Natural History and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park. And in the Bronx, the spirit of abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth is remembered at the Sojourner Truth House, a homeless shelter for families; donations can be made at nycharities.org.
The places described above are just a few of the locations where you can give tribute to the multifaceted and pervasive feats of women year round. Below, you’ll find events relevant to Women’s History Month happening this March, and you can also visit nycgovparks.org for more things to do this month.
A Feminine Palette: Women Artists of the 19th and 20th Century
The work of three relatively unknown artists who lived more than 100 years ago will be discussed at tonight’s roundtable talk. You might not have heard of illustrator Eliza Pratt Greatorex, muralist Hildreth Meière or lithographer Fanny Palmer, but the esteemed panel of art history experts will illuminate their lives and the artifacts they left behind. A wine and cheese reception will follow. Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden,
Women’s Jazz Festival
The Black Rock Coalition, an ever-evolving and collaborative group of African-American musicians from across the sound spectrum, honor four of the greatest singers of the 20th century. Unique voices all—and known for their roles in world music, jazz, pop, folk and gospel—Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln, Eartha Kitt and Odetta each contributed immeasurably to the American social and musical experience. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, $18–$22.50
The Woman Behind the New Deal
Frances Perkins was this country’s first female cabinet secretary, and her work and actions greatly affected the New Deal and the whole of American politics at the time. A new book by journalist and business writer Kirstin Downey explains Perkins’ influential role in economics and politics, including her appointment as Secretary of Labor in 1933. Lower East Side Tenement Museum, free with RSVP
Through March 13
Christina Mazzalupo’s artworks are dreamlike narratives encompassing a whirlwind of emotion and physicality. This exhibition, her fourth solo show at the Mixed Greens gallery, documents eight weeks of the artist’s detailed note-taking and diary-keeping; the resulting pieces (sculptures of pills, water-colored lists and painted pie-charts of feelings, drawings of holistic medicines) are highly personal and affecting. Mixed Greens gallery, free
Lavender Lunacy Lesbian Comedy/Variety Cabaret
If you believe that much of contemporary stand-up comedy is misogynistic and homophobic, make sure to check out comic Marilyn Galfin and her guests Lisa Kaplan, Chanelle Futrell, Joanne Filan and Scout Durwood at the Lavender Lunacy Lesbian Comedy/Variety Cabaret. Billed as “random acts of hilarity,” this promises to be a raucous evening of very funny comediennes and novelty acts. LGBT Community Center, $20
Through March 20
Two Black Women
Faith Ringgold and Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson are creative forces who tackle history, politics, social justice, identity and womanhood in their art. They are black women artists working in a variety of media (Robinson makes paintings, sculptures, woodcuts and illustrations; Ringgold is well-known for her paintings, quilts and children’s books, among other pursuits). Both are widely exhibited at museums and galleries around the world, but this is a rare chance to see their powerful work displayed side by side in Chelsea. ACA Galleries, free
Women’s History as Personal and Political
A Barnard alumna and longtime staff member of the college, Jane S. Gould was the first director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women, initially called the Women’s Center. When she died last August at the age of 91, she left behind a long legacy of feminist action. A panel of scholars, many of whom were involved in the early days of the Women’s Center, will gather at the BCRW in honor of Gould to discuss her life and work. Barnard Hall, Sulzberger Parlor, free
Through April 1
Curated by Andrea Arroyo, Women-Made features works by Dindga McCannon, Jessica Lagunas and Margaret Peot. In celebration of Women’s History Month, the exhibition presents diverse approaches to concepts of femininity and gender roles. Listing provided courtesy of Remezcla.com.
Through April 10
31 Women in Art Photography
Humble Arts Foundation presents the second installment of its 31 Women in Art Photography series, featuring up-and-coming photographers selected primarily from open submissions. Curated by Charlotte Cotton (formerly of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and Jon Feinstein (founder of photography nonprofit Humble Arts Foundation), the show aims to highlight innovative and interesting examples of fine art picture-taking. There will be an opening reception on March 6, 6–9pm. Affirmation Arts gallery, free
Kiki Smith: Sojourn
This site-specific installation by modern art superstar Kiki Smith lands in Brooklyn after making stops in Germany and Spain. Taking its inspiration from an 18th-century needlework piece called The First, Second and Last Scene of Mortality by Prudence Punderson, Smith’s installation incorporates her own creations in a wide variety of mediums, including sculpture, photography, collage and drawing. Brooklyn Museum, free with admission
Love, Loss, and What I Wore
When it comes to capturing a true-to-life female perspective on romance, few contemporary storytellers can match Nora and Delia Ephron—the filmmaking sisters whose adaptation of Ilene Beckerman’s popular autobiography is now a hit Off-Broadway play. Love, Loss, and What I Wore features stars like Kristin Chenoweth, Rita Wilson and Rosie O’Donnell performing a series of narrative vignettes—à la The Vagina Monologues. Westside Theatre, $75–$100