The Documentary Legacy of the Association of Women Artists of Puerto Rico

An archival exhibition

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Group Photograph of the Association of Women Artists (1989)Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Betsy Padín on her experience as part of the association [Español]
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This online exhibition features a selection of historical documents contained in the Collection of the Association of Women Artists of Puerto Rico donated to the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico for its custody, conservation and dissemination. This organization was founded in 1983 in order to promote female creation in the visual arts in Puerto Rico. It includes newspaper clippings, correspondence, photos, essays and other documents generated from its inception in 1983 until its dissolution in 1996. The exhibition is accompanied by audio interventions of some of the artists and art critics who were part of the Association.

Front Page of an Exhibition Brochure of the Association of Women Artists for the International Women's Day (1991)Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Teresa Tió on the context that gave rise to the association [Español]
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The Association of Women Artists of Puerto Rico grouped together painters, sculptors, filmmakers, cartoonists, engravers, ceramists, photographers, historians, and women dedicated to art criticism. Its purpose was to promote the professional and personal development of the Puerto Rican woman artist as well as to foster unity of action among the group of women who worked in the arts.

Photograph of the Opening of the Exhibition Women Artists Protagonists '80 (1990)Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Margarita Fernández Zavala on women's invisibility in local art history
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The images in this exhibition document the administrative and programmatic work of an association that gave visibility to the Puerto Rican woman artist and that served as a platform to advance new proposals. Its foundation, in a decade that was characterized by the formation of guilds, associations, brotherhoods and even the creation of a Museum of Contemporary Art, opened doors for them and placed them in the foreground, leaving behind the invisibility to which they were exposed.

Photograph of the Opening of the Exhibition Nuestro Autoretrato (1992)Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

María de Mater O'Neill on why she joined the association [Español]
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During the years that the association was active, various exhibitions were presented both in Puerto Rico and abroad. New York, Santo Domingo and Washington D.C. hosted some of them. Forums, practical professional training workshops, congresses and interviews were held and published in various newspapers in the country and abroad.

Festival de Arte at Plaza Las Americas (1987)Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Nora Rodríguez Vallés on the association and the feminist movement
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The Association of Women Artists of Puerto Rico took part in the broader feminist movement of the country through its relationship with the Red Encuentro de Mujeres which brought together the feminist groups of that time. In addition, the association supported the Cerdos de oro [Golden Pigs], an event organized by Feministas en Marcha that consisted of satirical awards given to the producers of content deemed as "machista" or misogynist and derogatory towards women

Letter to Petra Barreras del Rio of Museo del Barrio Letter to Petra Barreras del Rio of Museo del BarrioMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Their first exhibition was at the Plaza las Américas shopping center in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico in 1983. That same year they exhibited at the Cayman Gallery in New York with an exhibition that traveled to various cities in the United States, and at the Museum of Fine Arts of San Juan with the group show "Holding Hands".

Letter from Direccion General de Bellas Artes in Domican Republic to Toni Hambleton of Asociacion de Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico Letter from Direccion General de Bellas Artes in Domican Republic to Toni Hambleton of Asociacion de Mujeres Artistas de Puerto RicoMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

In 1986, "Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico" was presented at the Museum of Fine Arts of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture and "Growing Beyond: Women Artists from Puerto Rico" at the Art Museum of the Americas, of the Organization of American States in Washington D.C. in 1988.

Letter from Board of Members of the Asociacion de Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico to the organization (1990)Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

In 1990, "Leading Female Artists of the Eighties" was exhibited at the Museo de las Casas Reales in Santo Domingo and at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico. This exhibition obtained the Arawak Honor Palette and the AICA Chapter of Puerto Rico conferred them the prizes for Best Exhibition of Puerto Rico Abroad and Best Catalog 1990.

Letter from Rosa Irigoyen of the Asociacion de Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico to the Association Letter from Rosa Irigoyen of the Asociacion de Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico to the AssociationMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Rosa Irigoyen on how the association helped unite women artists from across the island [Español]
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Letter from Rosa Irigoyen to women artists about the opening of the exhibition at the Barranquitas Cultural Center. June 1991.

Letter from Rosa Irigoyen of the Asociacion de Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico to Dra. Maria Emilia Somoza of the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Letter from Rosa Irigoyen of the Asociacion de Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico to Dra. Maria Emilia Somoza of the Museo de Arte ContemporaneoMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Letter from Rosa Irigoyen to Dr. María Emilia Somoza about the possibility of presenting the exhibition Our Self Portrait at the Museum of Contemporary Art. November 5, 1990

Draft Letter from Mercedes Quinones of the Asociacion de Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico to Julia Platt (1992)Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Draft of a letter from Mercedes Quiñones to Julia Platt inviting her to participate as curator in the exhibition Our Self Portrait. January 1992.

Fax from the Asociacion de Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico to Margaret Miller Fax from the Asociacion de Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico to Margaret MillerMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

List of works participating in the exhibition Our Self portrait. The list includes details of prices and measurements of the works.

Handwritten letter to Miyuca Somoza of the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Handwritten letter to Miyuca Somoza of the Museo de Arte ContemporaneoMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Handwritten letter addressed to María Emilia "Miyuca" Somoza, then director of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico, regarding the exhibition Our Self Portrait. It offers details about the curators and writers that will be involved. The draft includes an error in Somoza's name. June 6 1992.

Press Newsletter from the Asociacion de Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico about the exhibition Nuestro Autoretrato Press Newsletter from the Asociacion de Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico about the exhibition Nuestro AutoretratoMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Rosa Irigoyen on her time as president and organizing the exhibition Our Self Portrait [Español]
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Another important exhibition, and the first to be curated by a group of experts in art criticism, was Our Self Portrait, the Woman Artist and the Self-Image in a Multicultural Context that was presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico in 1992 and at the Ponce Art Museum in 1993. This was accompanied by a series of lectures that sought to open the discussion around the then new issue of inclusion. Published in 1993, the book "Nuestro Autorretrato" collects the writings of the curators and the texts of the speakers.

Press release for the exhibition Our Self Portrait. 1992.

Letter from Betsy Padin of Asociacion de Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico to Maria S. Olmedo of Abbot Laboratories Letter from Betsy Padin of Asociacion de Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico to Maria S. Olmedo of Abbot LaboratoriesMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

This collection of documents belonging to the Association of Women Artists gathers these experiences through letters, bulletins, press clippings, photographs and audiovisual documents. Their efforts to obtain sponsorships for the exhibitions, exchanges with art critics, their link with similar organizations and feminists, as well as news related to Puerto Rican art and culture in general are also documented.

Letter from Betsy Padin of Asociacion de Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico to Jaime Fonalledas, son of the Foundation Fonalledas (1989)Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Letter from Betsy Padín to Jaime Fonalledas dated May 17, 1989 requesting the sponsorship of Plaza las Américas to present an exhibition at the Modern Art Gallery of the Dominican Republic. It also offers details about the help the shopping center has provided the association in the past.

Newspaper article from El Nuevo Dia about Sylvia Blanco titled Reflejo apacible de perenne sensibilidad Newspaper article from El Nuevo Dia about Sylvia Blanco titled Reflejo apacible de perenne sensibilidadMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Rosa Irigoyen on the art criticism of the time [Español]
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Press article in the Por Dentro magazine of El Nuevo Día newspaper about Sylvia Blanco that addresses aspects of her family life, her professional training and her artistic career. In the photos you can see the ceramist during her creative process.

Newspaper article from El Nuevo Dia about Toni Hambleton titled Las Lunas (1990)Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

María de Mater O'Neill on why she thinks the association ceased to exist [Español]
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Press article in the Por Dentro magazine of El Nuevo Día newspaper about "Lunas...", an exhibition by Toni Hambleton presented at Casa Candina in 1990.

Press article "Topografía del ánimo" by Ernesto Ruiz de la Mata, about Marilyn Torrech's exhibition at the Liga Estudiantes de Arte de San Juan, 1990 Press article "Topografía del ánimo" by Ernesto Ruiz de la Mata, about Marilyn Torrech's exhibition at the Liga Estudiantes de Arte de San Juan, 1990 (1990)Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Teresa Tió reflects on association and looks toward the future [Español]
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Thirteen years after its foundation, the group ceased operations and dissolved in 1996. The struggles to make space, to gain credibility and to position their work in the country's exhibition centers was successful. Research and study of these documents is vital to understand that struggle and to discover those stories that were never told.

Press article "Topografía del ánimo" by Ernesto Ruiz de la Mata, about Marilyn Torrech's exhibition at the Liga Estudiantes de Arte de San Juan, 1990

Credits: Story

The originals of the documents exhibited here, as well as photographs, audiovisual material, and administrative documents of the Association, may be consulted at the Documentation Center of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico. In addition, those interested can find information on over 2,500 contemporary artists from Puerto Rico, Latin America and the Caribbean and an extensive bibliography on the subject.

The MAC Documentation Center serves the Museum's internal and external users in the search for information on contemporary art from Puerto Rico, Latin America and the Caribbean. It is also the space where the institutional historical memory is archived, preserved and made available for research. It is enriched by materials generated during the development of its programmatic activity between 1984 to the present, and through donations. Users and researchers can find in it photographs, serials, catalogs, brochures, programs, invitations, loose sheets, an extensive bibliography on contemporary art, over 30,000 press clippings and audiovisual documents. We urge you to collaborate with the Museum of Contemporary Art in its objective of developing the most complete documentation center in the country for studies and research on contemporary art in Puerto Rico, Latin America and the Caribbean, by donating documents and collections related to the subject.

All documents and images presented in this exhibition are from the Colección Mujeres Artistas de Puerto Rico [Women Artists of Puerto Rico Collection], donated to the MAC by Leida Santiago Rodríguez.

Many thanks to the former members of Women Artists of Puerto Rico, specially Teresa Tió, Betsy Padín, Margarita Fernández Zavala, Rosa Irigoyen, María de Mater O’Neill and Nora Rodríguez Vallés, for providing their insight and voices for this exhibition.

Organized by Marina Reyes Franco, MAC Curator and Karin Cardona, Head Archivist, with assistance from Mariela Collazo Heredia, Registrar. Audio editing by Oswaldo Colón Ortiz.

MUSEO DE ARTE CONTEMPORÁNEO DE PUERTO RICO

Board of Directors:
Rubén Méndez Benabe, President
Rafael Flores Pérez, Vice President
José Negrón, Treasurer
María Awilda Quintana-Román, Secretary
Salvador Alemañy
Antonio García
Pedro Muñoz Marín
Enid Picó
Letty Rivero Iturregui
Luis Fernando Rodríguez

Marianne Ramírez Aponte
Executive Director and Chief Curator

Evita Busa
Deputy Director

Wanda Michelle Dilán
Administrator

Marina Reyes Franco
Curator

Mariela Collazo Heredia
Registrar

Raquel Torres Arzola
Joudy Santaliz
Education

Karin Cardona
Head Archivist

Carolina Cortés
Brenna Quigley
Development

Dalila Rodríguez Saavedra
Communications

Melinda Llompart
Alexnel Suárez
Administrative assistants

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Our special thanks to the sponsors of this project:
Fondo Flamboyán para las Artes

MAC Sponsors
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Banco Popular de Puerto Rico
La Red de Fundaciones
Miranda Foundation

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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