Art Hamptons Edition

Here's Why Designer Lisa Perry Won’t Consider Showing Male Artists at Her Art Space Out East

For more than 30 years, the iconic fashion designer Lisa Perry has been amassing important 1960s Pop and Minimalist art with her husband, Richard. But she recently embarked on a new kind of collecting endeavor—one she is building on her own, housed in a historic Hamptons gem she’s dubbed Onna House and dedicated to supporting and collaborating with women artists and designers. “This has opened up an entire new chapter in my life,” Perry says about the initiative from her home in New York. “This is me, starting from scratch.” 

Onna, which means “woman” in Japanese, is a nod to the modernist Japanese aesthetic of the house, which was designed by Paul Lester Wiener in the early 1960s for the famed collectors Robert and Ethel Scull. In search of a “creative outlet” during the pandemic, Perry purchased the residence, which was at the time threatened by demolition. Now, much like when the Sculls entertained there, the place brims with art and design. Last year Perry opened Onna House to the public for the first time, motivated by “a great need to spotlight under-recognized women artists.” 

First image: Artwork by Jerelyn Hanrahan.

Visitors can expect an array of juxtaposed creative genres; a majority of the pieces are made from materials associated with long-undervalued crafts and traditional women’s work like ceramics and textiles. (Textiles are a soft spot for the designer, whose family was in the fabric business.) Among its many functions, Onna House connects collectors to artists and it “shows how you can live alongside art in a home,” explains Perry.

This summer season kicked off with “Pearls, Pills, and Protests,” featuring works by the artists Jerelyn Hanrahan, Kelly Tapìa-Chuning, Lulu Varona, and Michele Pred. The exhibition, which presents an uplifting rebuke to current restrictions on abortion rights, includes outsize string-of-pearl sculptures by Hanrahan, a colorful retro quilt that Pred patterned with packets of birth-control pills, and wool boards needle-felted with phrases like “you’ll never get a man if you can’t cook.” A group ceramics show will follow in July. 


“I have always been a champion of women’s rights,” says Perry, noting that she won’t consider showing anything but the work of women. “I will not deviate,” she continues, emphatically. “People say, ‘This man is so great!’ Nope. Don’t even want to look. If people see that you can be singularly and extremely focused on helping women artists, then maybe more will do it.”