Apr 5, 2017
The Lesser Known (#5womenartists)
March is/was Women’s History Month, and the first thing that greeted me on my Twitter Feed on March 1 was a post by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. It read:
“Can you name five women artists?”
And of course, I could. And I did. And THEN I thought, ‘well, I could do more than THIS. What if I could name five women EVERY day of the month, without looking any up, just based on what know or remember? And what if I included images of work done by each of the artists? And how about not matching the images to the names, but asking readers to test their knowledge.
So I did!
It was not as easy as I thought.
The premise was sound, and doable. I could remember a lot, and I did give myself permission to check on spelling, or even names if I could remember the image but not the names (I love it when I negotiate with myself—I always win). For example: Louise Nevelson. I could not for the LIFE of me remember her name, until someone else mentioned her. I could see her work in m y mind clear as day, but the name was in a locked room (using the imagery of your memory as rooms in your brain).
Doable, but time consuming. I had to decide which names to post, find images, download them, add them to my website page—that I had to create—and make sure it all looked okay on mobile devices.
THEN, I decided I needed to post each day’s addition on Facebook. And on Twitter and Instagram (sometimes). And use hashtags. And add links to their websites for contemporaries. AND mention which ones would have work in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (because this is how I know many of them) and/or the National Museum of Women in the Arts (because, well, it was their idea).
From the beginning, I decided to include not only those who have stood the test of time, but also women who were my contemporaries, some well-known on the local scene, some on the national radar, and a few internationally known artists.
By the first Friday I decided I would rest on the weekends.
By the end of the month I was both grateful it was drawing to a close, and sorry I would not be naming more women. I had finally gotten things down to a rhythm, and I had more names, but it was time to stop, at least for the moment.
I learned quite a few things.
1) I am a glutton for punishment.
2) I enjoy a challenge.
3) If there is a way to make things more complicated, I will. This may not be bad, but it will be.
4) I know a lot of women artists.
The other thing I have been mindful of for some time is that I am fortunate enough to know a number of women (and men) who are on the national radar, or soon will be. I am in the midst of an incredible company of contemporary artists, and I believe a number of them will be written about in years to come. What an extraordinary position to be in!
This is a a FAR cry from my college days. In my art history book (H. W. Janson’s History of Art, of course), I could not find ONE WOMAN indexed in the book, not even those EVERYONE knows, like Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe, or Grandma Moses. I also looked through pages in sections that could have had some mention of these women, or others. Nada. Niente. Zip. Zilch. Zifr.
We’ve come a long way, baby. And we’ve got a long way to go. (By the way, if anyone knows otherwise, please let me know. This would refer to the 1968 edition.)
MY POINT IS, the only reason I knew so many women artists is because when I taught elementary art, I had a weekly program that ALL students, K-5, were exposed to, called ‘Artist-of-the-Week’. For the sake of brevity (who said that?), I will just say that I thought it important to include not only Old Masters, but also American, Women, Alive, and non-European artists (because, more than once, a student would look at our wall of artists, note the dates, and ask if we were ever going to study any LIVE artists. Thank goodness they were paying attention). So I started looking for names to add to the list.
And because I can NOT let it alone, in the next few weeks I will be organizing the names and images so you can see who does what!
Hmmm….wouldn’t it be great if I could set it up as a questionnaire, and then at the end you see how many you get right?
What app would I use for that? (please email me if you know—firstname.lastname@example.org)
SEE? I cannot help myself. It there is more to add, I will do so. It is not so much an affliction as a shot of adrenaline.
I did very little painting in March. The one large on on my home page, and a medium-sized one for Artful Healing. I also wrote no blogs. Now you know why.
I need a secretary, and a team.
To see all the women I named, check it out! The sad thing is, I just saw a post about women artists of the Bauhaus, and I did not know ANY of them. Sigh. That link, and one about 11 female abstract impressionists is also on the #5womenartist page on my website.
Were you able to participate in the #5womenartists challenge?
Next blog: back to Russia
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