Though the first leaves of autumn are only just beginning to fall, it’s never too early to start shopping for the holiday season (especially with current supply chain issues). Whether you’re looking for stocking stuffers for your coworkers or thoughtful gifts for friends and family members, we recommend paying a virtual visit to Pomegranate, a publishing and printing company that offers its customers “art you can bring home.” Their collection of high-quality puzzles, games and stationery are decorated with works from some of the world’s brightest artists, both known and relatively unknown. And while you might be inclined to purchase a set of greeting cards or calendar with the paintings of, say, Claude Monet or Vincent Van Gogh, we highly recommend that you support the talented women artists represented in Pomegranate’s products instead.
How exactly did we stumble upon Pomegranate? Just a few weeks ago, our Editor-in-Chief, Jan Lisa Huttner, attended the Women Take the Floor exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). Guest contributor Megan Hennessey had just published a reflection on the exhibit, which features more than 200 pieces from women-identified artists, covering photography, fine art, performance art, textiles, furniture design, and sculpture created between 1920 – 2020. In an effort to broaden the scope of the public’s art-related knowledge, the exhibit hangs the works of household names like Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe alongside those of artists who remain unsung.
After perusing halls bedecked with the art of all these talented women artists, Jan headed to the gift shop – as most museum-goers do – in search of some takeaway. The gift shop was filled with the usual pieces – art books about impressionist art with Monet on the cover, scarves decorated with Van Gogh’s Starry Night – but failed to include any of the women artists the exhibit had sought to spotlight. Out of all the merchandise in that room, Jan was only able to find one set of cubbies that displayed books and other products on the works of women (and most were about Frida Kahlo).
Disheartened yet determined, Jan conducted one last search for representation, scanning the rotating rack of calendars besides the cash register. Apart from a miniature calendar featuring the flowers of O’Keeffe, only one other calendar – that of African American artist Alma Thomas – fit the bill. After purchasing it, Jan left the museum wondering, “Where was the merch?”
So, where was the merch?
Why is it always so difficult to find merch that focus on women artists? Do such products simply not exist? Are we to reconcile ourselves to decorating our homes exclusively with Kahlo and O’Keeffe forever? Along with the greeting cards and puzzles, the calendars sold at many art museums come from a wonderful company called Pomegranate. Maybe the lack of inclusion, we wondered, stemmed from the company itself? It took only a minute of exploring its website to understand that this notion could not be further from the truth. Pomegranate has merch — and lots of it!
Simply scroll down on the landing page at pomegranate.com until you reach the section titled “Community” which displays an artwork by Alma Thomas to the right. Click on “Explore Artists” under the image, and you’ll find yourself in the “Diverse Perspectives” section, which invites buyers to browse through a curated collection of products showcasing the works of women and people of color, celebrating their immense contributions to the art world. If you’d like to narrow your search even further to focus solely on women artists, enter “calendars” in the search box, then check the box for “Art by Women” in the left hand refined search column.
According to Pomegranate, “it is our continued commitment to expand the scope of the art we share and the range of the artists we publish.” And true to their word, Pomegranate features nearly 20 women artists in their calendars alone — not counting collaborative calendars such as Quilts — with a specific emphasis on ethnically diverse artists. So, while you can purchase new 2022 calendars filled with O’Keeffe’s flower paintings, you might decide to get better acquainted with the exuberant, mosaic-like artwork of Black artist Alma Thomas, or appreciate the bold colors and lines of Inuit artist Saimaiyu Akesuk’s nature-inspired prints instead. Take some time to explore! Who knows, you might just find your new favorite artist.
Why is all this important? It’s about visibility. The women artists featured on Pomegranate’s product page come with their own stories and unique frames for creative expression. Yet, in my initial scan of this collection, I found that I knew almost none of their names. But why? Their work was just as innovative, just as creative and expressive as that of their male counterparts. And had they received the same exposure as their male counterparts, they too would be known, loved, and circulated within the art community.
You can’t just talk representation; you have to walk representation. And so to Pomegranate, we say thank you. We see the important work you’re doing – giving these women artists a platform to share their art – and we applaud you!
To celebrate Pomegranate’s “Art by Women” initiative, we are excited to launch a new series of features over the coming weeks, spotlighting some of the women artists presented on the Pomegranate website. To kick things off, Julia Lasker delves into the life and artwork of Alma Thomas!
It is our hope that you not only read up on these remarkable women but that you will support Pomegranate’s initiative — as well as the work of these female artists — by purchasing a calendar or two. With the holidays just around the corner, what better gift is there to give?
© Roza M. Melkumyan (9/29/21) Special for FF2 Media.
CREDITS AND PERMISSIONS
Featured Photo: Alma Thomas (American, 1891–1978) | The Azaleas Sway with the Breeze, 1969 | Acrylic and graphite on canvas, 162.6 x 127 cm (64 x 50 in.) | Textured paint on canvas. Cropped.
Photos taken inside the Women Take the Floor exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) were provided by Jan Lisa Huttner © Jan Lisa Huttner. Private Collection. Authorized for responsible use as long as link to FF2’s webpage is included in credit.
All other graphics were provided courtesy of Pomegranate. © Pomegranate. All Rights Reserved.