March’s social media is a-twitter with #WomensHistoryMonth, #5WomenArtists…
This question has arisen, from the thoughtful and compelling minds of the National Museum of Women’s Art NMWA in Washington, DC: off the top of your head, can you name 5 women Artists, from any era? I can, but then I’m a painter, and I studied art history in the ’80s. Curious, I pulled a massive tome from that era about Impressionism (1870-1885, give or take) and did some digging. I found women – certainly; lovers, wives, mistresses, models, muses…
…but Not. One. Woman. Painter.
Come on. That’s as nuts as immaculate conception.
I visited the National Gallery early in February, and found my heroes – all male because, well that’s what they’ve been teaching us all this time – and I believed it, as a young painter gendered female. Astonished, again, as I have been for 30 years, to see the living breathing originals in front of me. They beg stillness, and they get it. But this time beside them occasionally were beautiful pieces I’d never seen that pulled me in and demanded my attention. My GOD- the brushwork, the light, the power!
The Women. They are there too, now. In small numbers, to be sure, but they’re there and they’re strong.
I visited the Tom Thomson Art Gallery in Owen Sound this weekend to see the new shows and what do I find but an entire show of mad, serious, playful, rule-breaking women artists,
Crossing Natures is a group exhibition that explores cross-generational influences and affinities, and a lineage of feminism, found in the work of Joyce Wieland (1931-1998), Christiane Pflug (1936-1972), Janet Morton and Mélanie Rocan. Crossing Natures looks at the idea of thresholds that convey aspects of our relationship to habitat and the natural world.
Thank you once again, o enlightened TOM, for bringing the world to our door.
Women artists are also represented in a touring exhibition about the Beaver Hall Group from 1920s Montreal. It’s in Hamilton, ON until May – I’m going.
Painting will NEVER go away, for me. There’s been a two-month delay due to family issues (now at a place of peace), but the Bells That Still Can Ring will open this spring and travel after that to several places. In this pause, however, I find myself gratified that there always have been and always will be strong women artists. I am more than comforted.
Oh yes – this also: Smithsonian now thinks that “Ancient Women Artists May Be Responsible for Most Cave Art”
And that’s just fine.