The second wave feminists of the 1970s famously argued “the personal is political,” ushering in decades of conversation about the question what is women’s work?
This focus gallery includes a collection of representations of women at work. The work in question includes for the most part paid and unpaid domestic labor -- cleaning and taking care of children. This labor is at times idealized and romanticized, often taking the form of a modern day Madonna and Child.
Many of the objects in this gallery were also made by women artists, and include one striking self-portrait of a female painter at work. Thus the “works” included here are literal manifestations of women’s labor. In a time of mommy wars, “leaning in,” and earning 78 cents to every dollar that a man makes, these paintings and sculpture from the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries help us ask important questions about the value of women’s labor, both inside and outside the home today.