McNay Art Museum hosts “Limitless! Five Women Reshape Contemporary Art”

Looking to support more female artists? The McNay’s newest exhibition has you covered

Having some trouble naming five women artists? You wouldn’t be the only one. Women have historically been at the disadvantage in the history of Western art. To combat this, we need to educate ourselves on the detriments women have faced throughout art history and continue to support contemporary female artists.

The McNay Art Museum in San Antonio is hosting an exhibition to do just that titled, “Limitless! Five Women Reshape Contemporary Art.” The exhibition kicked off on March 4 to celebrate Women’s History Month and lasts until Sept. 19, 2021.

The exhibition features five female artists — Martine Gutierrez, Letitia Huckaby, Yayoi Kusama, Sandy Skoglund, and Jennifer Steinkamp. The exhibition is curated by the McNay Museum’s head of Curatorial Affairs, René Paul Barilleaux.

The advertised show stopper is famous contemporary Japanese female artist, Yayoi Kusama’s All The Eternal Love I Have For The Pumpkins infinity mirror room installation piece. All The Eternal Love I Have For The Pumpkins is currently on loan to the Mcnay Art Museum from the Dallas Museum of Art, so I decided to visit the exhibition to see what all the hype was about.

This was, in fact, my second time experiencing one of Kusama’s infinity mirror rooms. Was the $10 student ticket for the exhibition worth the experience of spending only 45 seconds in the infinity mirror room? Eh. The cost does encourage visitors to document and share the experience, a benefit for the museum and the exposure of the women artists featured.

Waiting in line for my turn to experience the infinity room, I looked around and saw TV screens on the walls of the gallery, which imitated cell phone screens. The screens basically gave visitors a step-by-step guide on how to make an Instagram story and share their upcoming experience.

I had never seen anything so weird in an art museum before. It felt like I was in an Instagram advertisement.

Because I didn’t want to give in to Instagram temptations, I intended to go into the infinity mirror room without the distraction of pulling out my cell phone. However, the friend that I went in with said, “I paid ten dollars for this. I’m going to put it on my story.”

Huh, seems to me like the cost to experience artificial “infinity” has turned into the cost to get Instagram clout. That being said, maybe that’s just the world that we live in now.

Either way, the experience and the photo were visually breathtaking. The installation, All The Eternal Love I Have For The Pumpkins, is basically a large white box on the outside. Once it is your turn to step inside, the door shuts behind you for exactly 45 seconds. The walls and ceiling are covered with mirrors and surrounding you are polka-dotted pumpkins on the ground, a motif commonly used by Kusama. Because of the mirrors, the space you occupy seems to go on into infinity, making for a good picture.

I was surprised at how fast infinity went by when the door swung open and my time was up.

Kusama’s All The Eternal Love I Have For The Pumpkins was definitely my favorite piece in the exhibition, but Sandy Skoglund’s 1992 installation, The Cocktail Party, came in close second.

The Cocktail Party really caught me off guard, but the more I looked at it, the more I was fascinated by it. It is an installation piece that mimics the appearance of a cocktail party — figures interacting with each other in a domestic setting. The odd thing about this work is that everything is covered in what appears to be artificial orange Cheeto puffs.

In The Cocktail Party, Skoglund explores ideas of interaction, consumerism in America, the natural vs. the unnatural and the artificial. I had an unsettling feeling when I realized that the figures are mechanical and move at certain intervals like robots would. This work is thought- provoking but amusing and relatable at the same time.

Overall, I recommend appreciating and experiencing art created by women artists — their creative possibilities are enticing and endless.