Category Archives: women’s history month

Women and the Arts

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All you can do is keep on keeping on — and make art!

Neither an optimist nor a pessimist, on many matters I’m a realist, with a tendency towards hope.

Researching the women in history who have gone before me is eye-opening … but I’m also finding that it has a strange effect on me. Learning that to this very day I still make 22% less than my male counterparts, that art created by women makes up only 30% of the art represented in galleries and about 5% of the art in museums — these things make me sad, yes, but also determined. I’m finding myself looking for and focusing more on the light, the hope.

I find myself more determined to continue to make art, to teach art, to talk about art. To encourage other women, and be a champion for the cause of equality across the board. To encourage young girls, to make them see that despite the fact that they do not often see their own gender reflected back at them as they look at history, they still can. Whatever it is: Yes, you can. Across the board: Yes, you can.

I find myself moving forth in life with more energy and excitement. Because when future generations look back on this time in history, I want them to see the women running with the progress we have made. I want them to see that the women of my generation not only rose, but shined. We stood up; we stand up. I see women in my field and across the board doing this, and I celebrate them. I salute them. The grief I felt for the women of art history as I dive into their stories is turning into something else. Fuel maybe, but hope for sure!

Let’s continue the conversation on Facebook and on Instagram!

The Women of Art History Hold a Lot of Surprises

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Frida Kahlo

Researching the women of art history was both exciting and deeply disturbing for me. With Women’s History Month about to kick off in a few days and equality across the board in the national and global spotlight, I decided to dig a bit deeper and see what it was like for the women who went before me.
I studied art history in college. I have studied the Florentine Renaissance with none other than the director of the famed Uffizi Gallery’s daughter, a well-respected art historian in her own right. I have pored over books and books on the subject of art history on my own for nearly 20 years, as I love the subject. In another life, I would have loved to be an art historian.
All this is to say: I know my art history, but I had to dig back in my memory pretty hard — assisted by Google — to find a list of 12 women painters. (I stuck to two-dimensional artists, as that is my art form.)
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Joan Mitchell

When I look to the past for guidance, as artists often do. I do not see myself staring back at me. I see a sea of predominantly European men. I often ask the question: “Name five famous female artists.” Very few can do that. That is sad to me. Where were all the women?
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Mary Cassatt

They were there, painting, when they could. Historically, a woman’s life was primarily centered on caring for home and family. Hard to imagine, but even in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, woman were forbidden from the cafés of Europe. To be allowed into a circle of artists or a movement such as Impressionism, a woman needed a man to vouch for her, both among other artists and among the buying public’s perceptions.
Only three women ever made their way into the Impressionist group. And the rules were different for them.
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Artemisia Gentileschi

I also learned in my research that today, in 2017, statistically I make 22 percent less money than my male counterparts, and that potential buyers are more likely to by art from men, and only 30 percent of all artists represented in galleries are women.*
I have no answers for you, my dear reader, only the facts to lay before you, and the invitation to come along with me throughout March as we celebrate some extraordinary woman who, against all odds, did make the history books.
Let us learn, know, and celebrate! Look for this celebration on my Facebook page starting March 1.
As always let’s continue the conversation on Facebook and Instagram. Cheers!