Every Woman Biennial: A biennial like you’ve never seen

Every Woman Biennial: A biennial like you’ve never seen
Artwork by Angela Fraleigh. Courtesy of the Every Woman Biennial.
Must see  -   Exhibitions

‘My goal is to be an inclusive and rainbow as humanly possible.’ That’s what New York-based artist Christine Finley said of her art show that wrapped up today in New York: the Every Woman Biennial. 11 days ago, the biennial kicked off with a bang of vibrant performances and more than 2,000 attendees at La Ma Ma Galleria in New York for the opening reception. Since then, guests have experienced a salon hang of artworks by more than 600 female and non-binary artists across two venues.

‘My goal is to highlight how many amazing women and non-binary artists there are,’ continued Finley. ‘I love salon style, and I love art to feel more like a party.’ And that it did. A flash mob of dancers spilled into the street to perform their display to Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) anthem. The inspiration for the biennial came to Finley five years ago as a response to the biennial put on by the Whitney Museum of American Art. That year, the Whitney Biennial featured just over 100 artists but only about a third of them were women and at that, only nine artists overall were black. Finley riffed off the Whitney’s name combining it with Whitney Houston’s name and 1978 hit I’m Every Woman and thus, the Every Woman Biennial was born.

Fast forward five years and the event has grown dramatically. Finley and her team have worked tirelessly for 15 months to bring the biennial to life. Their aim was to create an exciting, vibrant environment that highlights those so often under-represented in the art world – whether it’s the auction block, the gallery scene, or major institutions. ‘My job was to find space for the artists and hang it with as much professional courtesy to make everyone feel represented, whether they’re a Sunday painter or Mickalene Thomas,’ said Finley. ‘I think it came together really well.’ To that end, the biennial features an array of artists, as Finley says, from the casual creator to the well-known artist. They accept all who apply including filmmakers, sculptors, photographers, ceramicists, and printmakers. Age also doesn’t matter – the youngest artist this year happens to be a 13-year old trans girl from Colorado. So, the style of the biennial and the feel of it is quite different from what you’ll find at more exclusive shows like the Venice Biennial.

Finley and her team have also worked to expand the biennial and this year, in just a few days, the Los Angeles edition of the Every Woman Biennial will launch. Held at the Bendix Building, the LA Every Woman Biennial will run from June 3rd through June 12th with the opening reception on June 2nd.

While the Every Woman Biennale takes on a slightly different format from other mainstage art shows, its aim is one needed to widen the scope of the art world and art lovers alike.