The A.I.R. Gallery, which stands for Artists in Residence, was founded in 1972. The name was inspired by Charlotte Bronte’s novel “Jane Eyre” as one of the possible names was the “EYRE Gallery”. It was historically monumental as it was the first non-profit artist directed gallery for female artists in the United States. Artists Susan Williams and Barbara Zucker, along with eighteen other female artists, formed the group of co-founders. The founders were truly democratic in the way they ran the gallery as all of the major decisions were made by a majority vote and each artist had full control over her exhibition. Most of the artists who contributed lived in industrial SoHo lofts, which served as useful workspaces.
The gallery opened on September 16, 1972 and showcased ten artists. Many major publications covered this event including Domus, Ms. Magazine and the New York Times. From it’s opening, A.I.R. concentrated helping the community itself. This included internships for students interested in art and programs centered around performances and discussions of art and feminism. A.I.R. also focused on inclusivity as they allowed non-member artists to showcase their work at invitational shows.
The main goal of A.I.R. was to show the diversity of artistic talent of women. The creation of the gallery aimed to change the narrative of artists in New York as the commercial gallery scene was often male dominated. A.I.R. sought to shed light on how talented female artists are and encourage women to enter the workforce through art.
The original location of the gallery was 97 Wooster Street in SoHo, but has now moved to 155 Plymouth St in Brooklyn. A.I.R. still conducts exhibitions for female artists and community events, such as The Unforgettables Reading/Working Group, an education program for public schools and a variety of events.
- “A.I.R. Gallery.” NYC-ARTS, Alliance for the Arts , 28 Feb. 2012, www.nyc-arts.org/organizations/22337/a-i-r-gallery.
- “History.” A.I.R., A.I.R. Gallery , www.airgallery.org/.