Cameron Art Museum

Photograph courtesy of the Cameron Art Museum

Back in Wilmington’s Cameron Art Museum on Thursday, it was easy to forget that until very recently it had been closed to the public for six months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Walking through the museum’s sprawling new exhibition “She Persists,” which features work by more than 50 women artists, it feels like nothing if not a triumphant return.

Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote, “She Persists” features an engrossing array of work from the museum’s permanent collection. The exhibit displays pieces by 53 artists world renowned (Mary Cassat), local (Elizabeth Darrow, Fritzi Huber) and, in some cases, both (Minnie Evans).

Museum director Anne Brennan said the CAM has been “very purposely collecting work by women artists” for many years now, so in some ways “She Persists” shows off the many fruits of those labors. It’s a feminist exhibit just by virtue of existing, with material throughout explaining how the works fit into the various stage of feminism and feminist theory.

One of the first pieces you seen when you walk in is Huber’s gorgeous dyed silk piece “The Tale of Gengi,” based on the 11th century novel by Murasaki Shikibu (Some experts think it was the first novel written by a women.) “Gengi” hangs from the gallery’s ceiling, and locals may recognize the work from its time hanging at the old Myrtle Grove Library, which was torn down to make way for the new one near Pine Valley.

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