This exhibition examines the myriad ways in which women have been represented in relation to war and industry in modern and contemporary art created in the United States. During the twentieth century, both the advent of war and increased industrialization, have led to major changes in the lives of women: their roles in their families, the way in which they dress, and the manner in which they are perceived in the public sphere. Bringing together work created in diverse media, this exhibition examines the iconic, historical, and fictional ways in which women have been represented in relation to the complicated and related factors of war and industry.

The exhibition predominantly features works in the Museum’s Permanent Collection with specific attention to World War I and World War II posters and photographs by significant artists such as Margaret Bourke-White, Esther Bubley, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Florence Kemmler, Gjon Mili, and Berenice Abbot. Although the exhibition emphasizes work created by women, there will be many works by male artists who have poignantly and in some cases provocatively portrayed female subjects in relation to war and industry. To complement the Museum’s holdings a number of modern and contemporary works by artists such as Miyoshi Barosh, Doris Bittar, Nava Lubelski, Catherine Opie, Iana Quesnell, An-My Lê, Pae White, Stephanie Sinclair, Benjamin Lowy, and Frohawk Two Feathers will augment the presentation.

Women, War, and Industry has contemporary resonance given the current involvement of the U.S. Military abroad, and due to the thousands of military service men and women, veterans, and peace advocates who live here in San Diego. Furthermore, the exhibition relates to the history of the building occupied by the Museum. During World War II, many of the Museum’s objects were moved to another location to accommodate a naval hospital that was installed on-site.

Funding for the exhibition Women, War, and Industry has been provided by Nordstrom, Professional Maintenance Systems, the Members of The San Diego Museum of Art, and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Program. Institutional support for the Museum is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.
Artist unknown. Become a Nurse, Your Country Needs You. Lithograph poster, ca. 1942. Anonymous gift, 1924.479