Women in Colour at Rubber Factory

Rubber Factory is currently showing a group exhibition called Women in Colour, curated by and based on photographer and scholar Ellen Carey’s thesis with the same name. The women artists represented in the show have all used color as a focal point in their work and the exhibition features work from several generations of women photographers including Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons and Carrie Mae Weems among others.

Laurie Simmons, How We See/Ajak (Violet), 2015

The use of the British spelling of the word “colour” in the exhibition title references Carey’s research into the English origin of color photography. In her thesis, she questions where color photography would be today without the groundbreaking work of British Victorian Anna Atkins who was the first woman to use cyanotype photograms and the first to create it in color. The show is also highlighting gender-specificity by pointing out the number of women photographers that have chosen to work in color compared to their male colleagues who often work in black-and-white. It is suggested that there is a connection between this trend and gender specific genes. The theory is based on the fact that color blindness is 20 times more frequent in men and that the DNA gene called tetrachromacy, resulting in a person being able to perceive a larger color spectrum due to having four cone cells in the eye instead of three, is more common in women.

Ellen Carey, Dings & Shadows, 2016

The exhibition is not only highlighting women practitioners in photography and their choice of working in color, but it is also circling back to Linda Nochlin’s essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” (1971) suggesting that the reason so many women photographers have chosen to work in color could be based on genetics. There is also an interesting point to note in conjunction to this: black-and-white photography has long been a standard for fine-art photography. Could this be a result of gender bias?

Carrie Mae Weems, Color Real and Imagined, 2014

On view August 19 – September 27, 2017.