A Woman with Purpose: Darlene Boytell-Pérez

A Woman with Purpose: Darlene Boytell-Pérez

Women in the arts are still not seen and heard, and Darlene Boytell-Pérez is on a mission to change it. Today, 51 percent of visual artists are women. But when it comes to exhibitions and gallery representation, the numbers tell a less optimistic story.

With the Pérez Art Museum Miami’s International Women’s Committee (IWC), Darlene Boytell-Pérez founded a platform to celebrate and support womenˈs contribution to the arts to further a more balanced representation.

Located in a striking Herzog & de Meuron building, the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is a beacon for Latin American and Caribbean art, especially revered for its inclusive programming. Darlene Boytell-Pérez, our Akris Women with Purpose, is passionately working towards putting a spotlight on female artists within one of Miami’s most important cultural institutions.

You are the Founder and Chair of PAMMˈs International Women’s Committee, a platform that works towards a balanced representation of women in arts. What are the challenges faced by female artists, curators, and collectors in the 21st century?

The statistics of the past few decades still confirm that the works done by women comprise a small share of major permanent collections in the US. Artnet news reports that 11% of all acquisitions at prominent American museums over the past decade were of work by women artists. This is true of all art disciplines – with our PAMM partners we wanted to change this disparity in our community.

How do you at PAMM try to promote and celebrate upcoming, dynamic women in the arts?

With our affiliate group, International Women’s Committee (IWC), we can support the work of women in art in all capacities. Our group is comprised of artists, institutions, gallerists, collectors, art lovers, all who are liked minded and want to make a difference in addressing this inequity. E.g., through our membership, the funds garnered go to support important exhibitions by female artists at PAMM. Over the past five years we have supported exhibitions by Teresita Fernandez, Liliana Porter, and Simone Leigh. In addition to having purchased our first works by Kenturah Davis and Coco Fusco.

Which powerful woman in the arts do you admire the most?

I admire many women in different ways and different art expressions, so it is very hard to choose one. However, there is a book that I truly enjoyed reading called Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler. This book is about these five artists who revolutionized the modern art world. Their courage, resilience, and passion for creating change were very inspiring.

What action or decision are you most proud of?

First and foremost, being a mother is the most important role and privilege. The values that my husband and I have about the importance of family and giving back to our community have been present since we first met. Establishing our family foundation was a way for us to merge these values and leave a legacy in our community that our family can carry forward.

Recently you and your husband established the CreArte Grants Program to support artist fellowships and residencies, art education, and access. Why do you think it is important to witness the power of art from an early age? And especially in a city like Miami?

Jorge and I have always prioritized the importance of giving back to our community, especially in areas we feel passionate about. Art, for us, is a powerful tool, a way to express and communicate ideas or emotions. Through CreArte, we are able to give our community ample access to our passion, and we are also able to support artists and fuel their lifelong interests. It is truly a privilege to be able to do this in the city we love, that we grew up in, and see it grow and solidify its stance as a world-class cultural destination.

Is there a quote or life motto that you try to live by?

Beopen and flexible in your thinking while maintaining the integrity of your goals. This is a motto from my dear longtime friend, philanthropist, and fashion designer Norma Kamali.

What does the idea of ‘purpose’ mean to you?

The idea of purpose is having passion and being an advocate for what you believe is right. In my case, it’s my passion for art and being a champion in my community for equal representation of women in the art world. It is important for me to bring this issue to light.

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