A.I.R. Gallery’s goal is to provide a professional and permanent exhibition space for women artists to present work of quality and diversity. A.I.R. is an artist directed and maintained gallery, providing a sense of community for women and serving as a model for other alternative galleries and organizations. Through lectures, symposia and a Fellowship Program for emerging women artists, A.I.R. Gallery sustains a political awareness and voice, and brings new understanding to old attitudes about women in the arts.
A.I.R. Gallery (Artists in Residence, Inc.) was established in 1972 as the first not-for-profit, artist-directed and maintained gallery for women artists in the United States.
In 1972, artists Susan Williams and Barbara Zucker were joined by Dotty Attie, Maude Boltz, Mary Grigoriadis, and Nancy Spero and selected fourteen more women artists to form twenty co-founders of A.I.R. Gallery. The group of twenty included Rachel bas-Cohain, Judith Bernstein, Blythe Bohnan, Agnes Denes, Daria Dorosh, Loretta Dunkelman, Harmony Hammond, Laurace James, Nancy Kitchell, Louise Kramer, Anne Healy, Rosemarie Mayer, Patsy Norvell and Howardena Pindell. Together they renovated their first gallery space at 97 Wooster Street in New York City, established policy, and incorporated as a 501c3 not-for-profit organization.
Concurrently, A.I.R. Gallery: The History Show, Work by A.I.R. Artists from 1972 to the Present, curated by Kat Griefen and Carey Lovelace, was presented in A.I.R.’s new Brooklyn location October 2 – November 29, 2008. The historic two-part exhibition brought together artworks by more than 75 of A.I.R.’s family of members.
The History Show offered an overview of individual artistic achievement and the organization’s commitment to artistic diversity and authenticity, regardless of the trends in the contemporary art world. While all the artists participated in the feminist structure of the gallery, this first full overview showed the groundbreaking work the gallery’s individual artists made in a number of pivotal movements, such as environmental or earthworks, new feminist strategies, and innovations in the use of unconventional materials. All media were represented: photography, sculpture, painting, performance, videos, sound work, installations, performance, and drawings. This diversity of approach has been the hallmark of the artists at A.I.R. Gallery from 1972 to the present.
The women who have contributed to A.I.R. Gallery for forty years do not constitute a particular movement or school. Instead, the women are a cohesive, vitally important social force with a commitment to A.I.R. Gallery, and, by extension, a dedication to the social, cultural and political priorities that A.I.R. Gallery represents.