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Paving the way: ‘Resilient’ art exhibit at Brooklyn Federal Courthouse features all women artists


A new art show titled “Resilience in Color and Form” opened at the Charles P. Sifton Gallery in the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse on March 27, paying homage to female artists in honor of Women’s History Month. 

The Exhibition of Art by the New York Branch of the National League of American Pen (NLAPW) features works in oil, ink, watercolor, sculpture, and photography. The collective body of work expresses the resilience of women and a singular vision: women as leaders who peacefully pave the way for progress and change. 

United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy, who is also the curator of the gallery, delivered the opening remarks. Levy described the opening of an art exhibition as “magical.”

“We’re so happy to have the work of these terrific artists from the National League of Pen women here at the Sifton Gallery,” Levy said. “And we hope it will delight [and] stimulate all of you who pass through here. We’re especially happy to coordinate this exhibition with the National Women’s History Month.”

Artists and supporters pose at the opening of ‘Resilience in Color and Form,’ a women’s-only art exhibit now on display at the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

NLAPW was founded in 1897 when women journalists were prohibited from joining male-only professional organizations. The nonprofit organization supports and promotes the creative excellence of professional female artists, writers, composers, and choreographers.

Liz Amadio, president of the New York branch of NLAPW, a theatre artist, playwright, and photographer in her own rights, was moved and grateful to exhibit in the courthouse. 

In her speech addressing the crowd, Amadio pointed out that in 2024, an organization by women for women was still needed, considering the massive gender pay gap for female artists. Amadio cited a 2022 Forbes Magazine article titled “The $192 Billion Gender Gap,” which reported that art auctions racked in $196.6 billion between 2008 and 2019. However, art by female artists accounted for only $4 billion in sales — or 2%.

In 2022, Axios reported about the “staggering” lack of female artists displayed in American museums, and an analysis by researchers of Williams College found that only 13% of artists featured in major US art museums were women. 

Visitors check out the artwork at the gallery opening of ‘Resilience in Color and Form.’Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“Women are the muses of the art in our museums but rarely the creators,” Amadio said. “When we think of the gender wage gap,  customarily, we think of it in terms of corporate America. But this phenomenon exists across the spectrum of careers and industries, and the arts are no exception. Combine that with age bias, and you have the perfect storm for women over 40.” 

The work of professional organizations like NLAPW was not only about pay parity, Amadio said, but also about networking and support. 

“Despite the disparity, our collective body of work represents a singular vision,” she told the crowd. “‘Resilience in Color and Form’ describes not only the artwork but it is also reflective of the creative intention of each of our artists. Women are and always have been leaders in our society, peacefully paving the way for progress for change.”

Liz Amadio has nine photographs featured in the exhibition.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

NLAPW member Stephanie Liu has seven paintings in the exhibit and says she “has come full circle.”

The Hong Kong native started painting at 13 and received a full scholarship to Skidmore College. Liu shared with Brooklyn Paper that on March 8, 1976, her art professor almost raped her. He was never prosecuted. Traumatized by her experience, she didn’t pick up a brush again until decades later, and upon her return to Hong Kong, Liu became a women’s rights activist. In 1991, Liu returned to the United States and worked as an interpreter at the very courthouse that now displays her work.  

Liu began painting again in 2003, reclaiming her power through art and activism. She entered the New York State Court Employees Arts and Crafts Show, winning first and several other prizes. 

“Now it is 2024, many decades later. When I brought the paintings to the drop-off [for the exhibit], it was also on March 8,” Liu told Brooklyn Paper. “After so many years later, it dawned on me that it was on the same day that I was a victim; now I’m reclaiming my power.”

Clare Stokolosa (left) in front of her artwork.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Other featured artists include Deborah Worthington Dorsey, Mary Rieser Heintjes, Sybil Maimin, Nancy Miller and Clare Stokolosa.

The exhibit space is located on the first floor of the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse (225 Cadman Plaza East) in Downtown Brooklyn and is open to the public on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.