News

Eleanor Spiess-Ferris
Panelist artist Eleanor Speiss-Ferris with Janet Kelley at the 2015 Symposium
Linda Kramer
Artist Linda Kramer with her monoprint from 1959 titled Self-Portrait at the Making Their Mark: Illinois Women Artists, 1940-1960 held at the Peoria Riverfront Museum October 17-January 17.
Symposium Panel
Panel discussing the impact of the WPA on the work of women artists in the midwest, October 23, 2015. Panel leader was Joanna Gardner-Huggett, Associate Professor of Art History and Department Chair at DePaul University. Discussants included: Gregory Gilbert, Professor of Art History and Director of the Art History Program at Knox College; Melanie Herzog, Professor of Art History at Edgewood College in Madison; Lara Kuykendall, Assistant Professor of Art History at Ball State University; and, Rebecca Zorach, Mary Jane Crowe Professor of Art History at Northwestern University.
At Making Their Mark: Illinois Women Artists, 1940-1960 exhibition October 2015
Kristan McKinsey, Curator at the Riverfront Museum, stands with our keynote speaker Robert Cozzolino, Curator of Modern Art at the the Pennsylvania Academy of Art as they visit the complementing show at the Riverfront Museum curated by Channy Lyons.
Cecil Clark Davis, a Self Portrait (1877-1955)

Drawing on diary entries, letters, and observations, Wendy Bidstrup tells Chicago artist Cecil Clark Davis' life story. The book is uniquely written in first person which brings you directly into the artist's world beginning with her visit to the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and her early lessons at the Art Institute of Chicago. Many of Davis' paintings and photographs illustrate the book as well as sketches by Charles Dana Gibson.

Davis was an amazing woman who lived in a gracious time. As author says of Davis: She was a woman of strong opinions and high standards. She loved sports, games, animals, the theater, music, art and good books. Her wide circle of friends sought her company and council and admired her intellect and wit.

Author Bidstrup collected information about Davis during her 35 year tenure as executive director of the Marion Art Center in Massachusetts. To learn more and to purchase the book, contact the Marion Art Center at marionartcenter.org or 508-748-1266.

From Dark to Light with Humor: The Life and Work of Ellen Roth Deutsch

New book by Jane Stevens, Chicago photographer, curator, and art educator.

The book explores Ellen's thirty-five year artistic journey to develop her own unique vision and voice. Through her artistic process, Ellen explores personal experiences and confronts struggles. Intuitively working through personal themes, she faces pain, suffering and health problems. Her use of imagery, vivid color and line transforms the physical and psychological wounds into fascinating journeys into another world for her audience.

Preview the book at: http://www.blurb.com/b/5720044-from-dark-to-light-with-humor.

More about Jane Stevens at her website: http://www.janestevens.com

Arts Partner of the Year Awarded to Channy Lyons

Channy Lyons has been a highly influential and respected leader of the fine arts community, locally and statewide. Her passion for researching, preserving and acknowledging women artists has been a driving force leading her to spearhead important, impactful arts projects. Over the years, she has taken on the roles of mentor, curator, advocate as well as writer and historian of the arts. Through all of her many contributions, she has demonstrated that she is a deserving recipient of the title "Arts Partner of the Year."

Beautiful Things

"These works are a testament to the enduring legacy of our American women," says curator Edward P. Bentley. Scarcely recognized in their day, the painters are gaining wider recognition today due, in part, to collectors and museums dusting off their archives and finding an appreciative audience. The exhibition features still life paintings from more than 30 artists, including nine who studied and worked in Illinois.

For more information, contact Olivet College Visual Arts Department. http://www.olivetcollege.edu/news/news.php?id=1254

Early Chicago Women Artists
Early Chicago Women Artists:
A Video Exhibit Created by the Illinois Women Artists Project
June 3, 2013 – July 8, 2013
Harold Washington Library Center
Eighth Floor
400 S. State Street

Early Chicago Women Artists highlights the achievements of early women artists who lived and worked in Chicago between 1840 and 1940. They used their creativity to make art, raise their children, establish community organizations, and to teach and run businesses. They have interesting stories to tell about their desire to create something and their willingness to go beyond societal boundaries to do it. Their achievements contributed significantly to the work of today’s artists.

Joyce Owens Solo Exhibition at Contemporary Art Center
A solo exhibition of paintings and sculpture by Chicago artist Joyce Owens runs May 11 through June 28 at the Contemporary Art Center, Preston Jackson Gallery, Peoria, IL. Opening reception May 11, 6:30-8:30. Joyce returns to Peoria this fall to lead a panel at the Midwest Women Artists symposium at Bradley University, November 7-8.
Greenhouse and Weininger at Chicago Library
Art historians Wendy Greenhouse and Susan Weininger gave outstanding slide presentations about "Chicago's Forgotten Women Artists"during Women's History month at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago.
Chicago's Forgotten Women Artists

CHICAGO'S FORGOTTEN WOMEN ARTISTS
A presentation by art historians
Wendy Greenhouse and Susan Weininger

Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 12:15p.m.-1:00p.m.
Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State Street, Chicago
Authors Room, 7th floor

In the late-19th and early 20th centuries, social expectations and training restrictions didn't keep Chicago women from making art, forming arts organizations and learning the business of art. Many were successful in their day, yet all but lost to history.

Rediscovering these artists’ biographies and promoting appreciation of their work is an objective of the Illinois Women Artists Project and the subject of this presentation by art historians Wendy Greenhouse and Susan Weininger.

Frances Strain (1898-1962), "The Conversation" 1929,
Oil on board, 23 3/4 in. x 27 3/4 in. Harlan J. Berk Collection

"To Be a Lady: Forty-Five Women in the Arts"
This exhibition, which brings together works by forty-five artists born over the past century who happen to be women, closes next week. But its catalog and description are well worth a look online at the 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery. Also see James Panero's article about women artists and the exhibit in The New Criterion.
"What's Abstract?"
Art exhibition in the President's Gallery at Chicago State University featuring two Chicago-based artists. January 29 to March 15, 2013 Artists Nancy Charak and Julian Williams are painters who work in a variety of media including watercolors, acrylics and oils. Examining the usual perceptions of realism and abstraction, this exhibition also explores the common threads between the styles. More information contact Joyce Owens Anderson, curator of the galleries program at jander20@csu.edu.
Lakeview Museum Recognized for Skirting Convention: Illinois Women Artists, 1840-1940 Exhibition
The Illinois Association of Museums presented the Superior Achievement Award to Lakeview Museum (Peoria) at their annual convention in Collinsville, Illinois. The Skirting Convention: Illinois Women Artists, 1840-1940 exhibit included sixty-three paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and sculptures prepared by early women artists and five by their daughters and granddaughters. Between October 2011 and September 2012, the exhibition traveled from Peoria to the Quincy Art Center and the Tarble Art Center in Charleston. More about the exhibition...
Artist's Story: Charlotte Leaming
A biography has been added to the IWA website. Read about painter Charlotte Leaming who chased one of her models along Chicago's Lake Avenue in 1901.
The Personal is Political: The Transformative Power of Women's Art
The Koehnline Museum and Oakton College Women's and Gender Studies Program collaborate to bring a juried exhibition of women's art to the museum from October 4-26, 2012. Ever since American feminist writer and activist Kate Millet coined the phrase "the personal is political" in her landmark 1970 work "Sexual Politics," the words have continued to resonate in contemporary feminism. In this election year, the annual collaboration between the Koehnline Museum and Oakton’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program features works by women artists that engage with and respond to the multiple meanings in Millet’s words. For more information contact Oakton Community College Museum in DesPlaines, Illinois.
Book Signing of Ruth Van Sickle Ford biography
Author Nancy Hopp signs copies of her biography of Ruth VanSickle Ford, one of the Midwest's best known watercolorists,in St. Charles, Illinois, at Town House Books, 105 N. 2nd Avenue on June 2. The book culminates more than seven years of research into Ruth Ford's artistic passion and "tough love" teaching style. The narrative is interspersed with 75 color reproductions of the artist's paintings.
American Art Review Magazine features Skirting Convention exhibit

AMERICAN ART REVIEW magazine features our Skirting Convention exhibit in its March-April issue. The story begins with the cover image and continues for ten pages including twenty-four gorgeous images from the exhibit. Don't miss it!

Images from the Skirting Convention Exhibit at Lakeview Museum
One of the many wonderful comments about the exhibit at Lakeview Museum came from Nancy Lawless who took her granddaughter Bethany to see the show. Nancy writes that they "loved the paintings," adding "We had a good time. I wanted Bethany to see what women have always and will always be able to achieve."
Congratulations to Woman Made Gallery

Chicago's Woman Made Gallery (WMG) supports, cultivates and promotes contributions of women in the arts. All of the artwork in the gallery is made exclusively by women. Its vision is to ensure the equal placement of women's art in the world.

This year the gallery celebrates its twentieth anniversary. Nearly 7,000 women have exhibited work at WMG since 1992. The gallery hosts on average eight group exhibitions per year with about 30 artists per show as well as solo exhibitions. This year's group exhibitions begin with Twenty in Their Twenties, The 15th International Open, and Consumer Culture. More about the exhibits at the WMG site.

Look for WMG's innovative marketing campaign this year: posters of twenty diverse women from the community strategically places throughout the city. Each poster will have a QR code which, when scanned, will connect you to a video interview of the featured woman.

Holiday Card
Artist/author Alta Ann Parkins Morris is the grand-niece of early 20th century Illinois painter Grace Ravlin. She is working on a biography that will include her great aunt’s travels in Tunisia and Morocco in the early 1910s, where Grace made a trek by mule with helper, Abdallah. In 1971, Alta Ann walked through the rugged terrain on the Mani peninsula in southernmost Greece, an area of Byzantine churches and once-fortified towers. In a chapel near the village of Areopolis she sketched a seraph--from an oil painting set on an icon stand. Years later that sketch inspired the holiday card shown here.
Luminous Ground: Artists with Histories

Luminous Ground: Artists with Histories, an exceptional exhibit that explores the resilience of age and creativity is on view at the Illinois State Museum Chicago through August 26, 2011. The exhibition highlights the work and careers of eleven elder Chicago artists who are, or were, creatively active into their later decades. Many are nationally and internationally known: some have been quieter presences in the art world.

The exhibition suggests that, if there is a 'Fountain of Youth,' it is creativity. By spotlighting the exceptional work by these underrepresented, mature artists, the exhibit counters the emphasis on the youth culture that pervades the art world.

The exhibit also looks at medical, scientific, and psychological evidence that show there are mental and physical health benefits for those involved in creative processes and at aging and society as reflected in the cultural matrix.

The artists of Luminous Ground: Artists With Histories share three important similarities: 1) the creation of life-long bodies of work of the highest caliber; 2) the influencing of multiple artists across generations, not only by their art, but through teaching and community involvement; 3) commitments of fifty to sixty years or more to the exploration of personal creativity.

Gerda Meyer Bernstein (socially relevant installations;)Vera Klement (painting); Ellen Lanyon (printmaking and painting); and Elizabeth Ruprecht (painting) are included in the exhibit.

The Gallery is located on the second floor of the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W Randolph St, Chicago. The phone number is (312) 814-5322. For more information, see the Illinois State Museum website.

Warm Light, Cool Shadows: The Life and Art of Ruth Van Sickle Ford

A beautiful new book offers an affectionate, in-depth look into one of Illinois' best watercolorists. Born in 1897, and raised near Aurora in northern Illinois, Ruth Ford became a painter of landscapes, street scenes, still-lifes and portraits, and a teacher and business owner.

Known for her bold use of color and free sense of perspective, Ruth Ford exhibited her paintings throughout North America for more than five decades. In 1930 she accepted a teaching position at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Seven years later, in a typically self-confident and courageous move, she became president and director of the school, purchasing it in the throes of the Great Depression. She continued to teach and to paint until her death in 1989.

Growing up in Aurora, author Nancy Hopp lived a few blocks from Ruth Ford. She remembers watching the construction of the artist's famous Round House (modeled after a Tibetan nomad tent). In 1965, Nancy enrolled in Ruth Ford's watercolor class at Aurora University. They met again when Nancy's father was a resident of the same nursing home as Ruth.

Nancy's book culminates seven years of research into the artistic passion, colorful personality, and effective teaching style of Ruth Ford. She tells Ruth Ford's story as part biography, part diary, part lesson and part tribute; and she includes 75 paintings and more than 30 photographs.

An exhibit of Ruth Ford paintings will be hosted by the Aurora Public Art Commission in the Pierce Art and History Center in Aurora from May 20 through August 12, 2011.

To learn more about Ruth and the book, visit the Ruth Ford website and see our website's Artists section.

Make a Resolution

Perform 10 creative deeds during the 31 days of March. A perfectly do-able idea in celebration of Women's History Month. It's what a New Mexico group called Women & Creativity suggests – and we second it for Illinois women.

You might include adventures like knitting a scarf, writing a poem, drawing a picture, joining a workshop, attending a performance or visiting an exhibit. Share your creative deeds – each one or all 10 – right here.

Legacy of Margaret Burroughs

Margaret Taylor Burroughs once told Ebony magazine that she wanted to be remembered for something positive she did for her community. Every individual does, she believed. Well, Burroughs—who passed away last November--left more than most.

In 1961 she and her husband Charles opened the DuSable Museum of African-American History in their living room on Chicago's Southside. Today it is housed in a sizeable building in the Bronzeville neighborhood and holds 15,000 artifacts.

Twenty-one years earlier, she co-founded the Southside Community Art Center to provide gallery space and instruction for visual and performing artists. It continues to be a resource for the arts community today.

Burroughs was also an artist who worked in several mediums. She was best known for her linocut prints of Africans and African-Americans which she began making after working in the 1940s with Mexican muralists, who used their art for social commentary. The Koehnline Museum of Art at Oakton Community College has their Burroughs print collection online. Two are shown here.

Burroughs lectured, taught art at DuSable High School for 23 years, and humanities at Kennedy-King College for ten years. She wrote poetry, children's stories and essays.

And Margaret Burroughs received awards. She was inducted into the Chicago Women's Hall of Fame, received the Paul Robeson Award and the Art Institute of Chicago's Legends and Legacy Award, among others.

For more about Margaret Burroughs, please see our website's Essays and Artists sections.

On & Of Paper

Folded, molded, painted, torn, glued, or otherwise altered, paper has been used for centuries as a versatile, readily available, and relatively affordable material for the artist.

An exhibit of 99 works in the Illinois State Museum collection can be seen at the Museum's Chicago Gallery through March 11. A number of the works were created by women artists who are included in the Illinois Women Artists Project, such as Gertrude Abercrombie, Vera Berdich, Flora Schofield, Ethel Spears, and Julia Thecla.

Every object in the exhibit is either ON paper (prints, drawings, photographs) or OF paper (construction, papier mache, collages, book projects).

The gallery is located at 100 W. Randolph on the second floor of the James R. Thompson Center and is open Monday through Friday from 9a.m. to 5p.m.

Artists in Anna, Illinois

At Christmas time in the late 1800s in Anna, Illinois, Hannah Sanborn (1832-1931) put on an exhibit of her artwork and the work of her students and served coffee and little cakes to her prospective customers.

Hannah's work sold well, especially her still-life flowers painted on dark backgrounds like the one shown here, and her "fancy painting" which in Hannah's case meant her very popular wall plaques of richly shaded pansies on white velvet strips (Ayers 39).

Hannah (1832-1931) was the "purveyor of culture" in Union County. She had graduated from the Gilmanton Academy in New Hampshire in 1854, married, and moved to Anna in Southern Illinois where she taught school for twenty-five years. Her daughter Winifred, also a painter, said her mother "used painting, drawing, and music in all her school work for the benefit and pleasure of her pupils" (Ayers 37).

Hannah also led the ladies book club, and "ran something of a 'salon' which children attended to practice proper elocution and needlework, while their mothers studied drawing and painting" (Ayers 26).

The paintings of Amy Kirkpatrick (1862-1935) gained popularity in Anna in the late 1800s. A diminutive, red-haired woman with a penchant for flamboyant turn-of-the-century hats, Amy, affectionately called Birdie, spent most of her life painting the surrounding landscape with a light, colorful impressionist touch and teaching art at Union Academy.

The Kirkpatrick family were potters who found beds of exceptional clay about four miles from Anna. It was the best throwing clay in the world, some said. The Kirkpatrick brothers--Amy's father and uncle--shaped and fired clay to create utilitarian and fanciful stoneware pieces. Miss Birdie was known to decorate objects made in the family pottery, painting on the tops of fired stoneware urns and serving dishes (Ayers 9).

A visit to Anna Illinois this year's holiday season offers celebrations including Carols at Candlelight at St. Anne's, a quaint 1886 church, and a Holiday Arts Festival at the Anna Arts Center. The Anna Kirkpatrick Pottery Museum is open daily. It's inside Isom's Antiques & Collectibles (618-833-3516).

Sources: Ayers, Esther Mary. Art in Southern Illinois, 1865-1914. Cobden: Union County Historical and Genealogy Society, 2004. Brown, Jane. Around Town with Jane Brown, A Street Guide to Historic Anna, Illinois. Cobden: Union County Historical and Genealogy Society, 2004.

Remembering Eleanor Coen

"Look at the work of Eleanor Coen. You may see a new view of the world you know well. You may see a dream you had forgotten. You may have a glimpse of something you've not yet experienced."1

There is a little film about Eleanor Coen and her husband artist Max Kahn on her website. It is charming, illuminating, celebratory. They were a remarkable couple, partners creating new work in shared studio spaces for well over 50 years. They were "hot tickets" in Chicago art circles especially in the '40s and '50s.

Eleanor Coen, raised in Normal, Illinois, married Max Kahn of Peoria in 1942. She had studied under Max at the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1930s and both had worked for the WPA's Federal Arts Project toward the end of the decade.

In 1941, she was the first woman to be awarded the Art Institute's James Nelson Raymond traveling fellowship. She went to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico to teach and to study with muralists and social realist artists, including Jose Clement Orozco. Max Kahn traveled with her.

Eleanor Coen created color lithographs, using her inventive layering process that was similar to the way she worked a canvas. Many of her images were of children -- round-faced, stylized characters and who showed viewers how the city feels to a child.2 Her paintings and prints won many awards and are included in collections throughout the world.

Eleanor Coen passed away on July 9 at the age of 93.

To learn more about her, see our Artist section and Eleanor Coen's website.

1Eleanor Coen's resume on her website includes several quotations and descriptions of her work.

2Chicago gallery owner Jim Dempsey talks about her artwork in Chicago Home Magazine November-January, 2007.

Traveling this summer?

In Illinois: see our Travel Guide before you go. It lists cities and towns with women artists' work in public spaces that you can see along the way.

Wherever you go, from your own backyard or local forest preserve to the French Riviera: Take a small sketchbook with you. Write in it, and draw whatever interests you. Keep a pencil with your sketchbook…an all-round size, a 2H or HB artist's pencil might work well. And a small square tin of watercolors, just the basic colors, if you want. That's what these artists did.

Anita Willets Burnham (1880-1957) took her children—all four of them—her husband and her sketchbook around the world in 1921. A decade after her return, she put her remembrances into a book with her drawings and her daughter Carol-Lou's, and named it Round the World on a Penny. It's charming, entertaining. You can see some of the drawings/paintings from her book at Child Gallery and you can learn more about her on her artist page and at the Winnetka Historical Society site.

Fritzi Morrison (1909-2007) was a watercolor artist in Quincy who traveled extensively with her geographer husband. She used art as a way to understand and explain the culture of other countries, as well as her own. Forty years later, she assembled her lovely paintings and her writings about her extended stay in Turkey and published Alishar Remembered: disappearing ways of life in a Turkish Anatolian village in 2003. Learn more about her on her artist page.

Not that you have to make a book. When I was a kid and visited my artist grandmother in Florida, we'd sit next to each other looking out at the Atlantic Ocean and at the passersby, and we'd sketch what we saw. We laughed a lot, too. I wish I had saved some of those sketches.

Gladys Nilsson Celebrates 70th Birthday

A retrospective exhibition representing the range of Chicago artist Gladys Nilsson's work will take place from April 9 to May 23 at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago. The exhibition, in celebration of the artist's 70th birthday, is presented by the Illinois Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (ILNMWA).

In the late 1960s, Gladys Nilsson was part of the core group of artists who became known as Imagists. These artists brought national attention to Chicago art for the first time.

Nilsson shares the quirkiness, love of popular culture, and visual and verbal punning with her Chicago contemporaries. Her approach to the humorous, figural images that characterize the Imagists remains distinctive, often focusing on women in a variety of situations.

"Her work is enormously inventive and skillful. She makes a bridge from the earlier Chicago artists to those of the contemporary world," said art historian and ILNMWA board member Susan Weininger.

The Illinois State Committee was formed in 1989 to support the NMWA's mission by honoring Illinois women artists' achievements and to promote greater awareness of their work through education, exhibitions, and the presentation of annual awards to Illinois artists.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts is the only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to recognizing the contributions of women artists. It opened in Washington DC in 1987. Today its permanent collection includes 3,500 works by more than 800 women artists. It offers exhibitions, conducts education programs and maintains a comprehensive library and research facilities.

"The museum’s goal is to reach into the grass roots and in a meaningful way give every woman a chance – or at least encouragement,” said Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, NMWA founder.

Celebrate Women's History Month in March by keeping women's stories alive

Think of a woman in your past who’s been important to you, influenced you, even changed you-- a grandmother, teacher, Girl Scout leader, your mother, a boss. Thinking of someone?

As soon as you can, take a few minutes to write what you remember about her. Write a sentence or two, or a page or two. Write about: when she lived, what work she did, what she looked like, what she valued, and why she was important to you. Include her first and last names and her maiden name. If you do this, you’ll be adding to women’s history.

And if the woman is an artist, arts organizer, or an art teacher, you'll be adding to art history, as well. If she's from Illinois – your town? Your neighborhood? We'd like to hear about her -- especially those women who worked between 1840 and 1960. Please let us know.

Writing Women Back into History is this year's theme for Women's History Month, according to the National Women's History Project, the organization that lobbied Congress to designate a week, and later a month, to women's history. The NWHP is celebrating its 30th year, highlighting six themes from previous years. One of those themes is Women's Art: Women's Vision from 2008 which honored "the originality, beauty, imagination and multiple dimensions of women's lives."

There are any number of things to do about women's history that will make sure that the contributions of women are passed along as recordings and videos, notes and essays, visual collages and portraits.

We have an idea to suggest: Think of a creative older woman you know, or would like to know. Interview her. Research her history online or at the library (ask the reference librarian or genealogist for help because looking up women's history can be tricky). Write about her. Sketch a portrait, do a collage of what reminds you of her.

If she lives in your town, give the write-up to the library. They usually have "vertical files" where they store information (news clips, oral histories, letters, and write-ups like yours). You'll be helping researchers and future generations learn about her and her experiences.

If she was a painter, photographer, printmaker, sculptor, architect, illustrator in Illinois between 1840 and 1960 who exhibited her work at a recognized place, please send us a copy of your writing and/or your artwork. We'll add her to the IWA database making her available to the world.

And by all means, keep women’s stories alive in your family.

Channy Lyons, IWA Project Director
A Family Reflection: Why Women's Art is Close to My Heart

My grandmother was an artist. Her name was Verda and she was born in 1895. She so intrigues me because she was forever hopeful and full of humor and romance, and because she saw details I missed. She could see color in a squirrel’s arched tail in the middle of winter and draw the curl of my father’s thick, black hair long after she’d visited with us. She saw the air between things and that became a shape that she could recreate in any medium. Once seen through her lens, anything could be reproduced as a sketch, painting, carving, cutout, given the materials she had at hand. When my grandmother visited us, it was always a particularly creative time. My mother, who was a sculptor and designer, had materials ready. Looking back now, I realize that what we made was simple, imaginative and fun. I sometimes mailed several sketches of mine to her, and she would write back: “I will have every one of these up on my wall. They thrill me.” How lucky we are to have people in our lives who support us with such enthusiasm – and encourage us to see.

Women artists—past, present and future—need our support. Please give them attention and enthusiasm. Look at their art, read their stories, take their classes. Inspire young girls interested in the arts to continue their art-making and assure them that obstacles can be overcome. Take a class yourself especially if you’re over 60—your experiences will nourish your art.

May your holiday season be filled with joy and good tidings, creativity and imagination.
Channy Lyons, IWA Project Director

Support Illinois Women Artists' WorksThis Season

Read their stories on our website's Artists pages and on their blogs (Joyce Owens’ blog, for one). Attend a museum exhibit of women’s art (Rockford Art Museum displays Hollis Sigler: Expect the Unexpected thru Jan 10; Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mt. Vernon exhibits One World, One Family: Darcy Kiefel Photographs for Heifer International thru Dec 31). Find artists holding holiday art sales in their homes, studios, or galleries (for example: Northern Illinois University's Crafty Woman Art Sale in DeKalb on Nov 17-18; the Woman Made Gallery holiday sale Nov 20-Dec 23 in Chicago; Erin Robert’s art sale in her studio in Peoria; Britten Traugher's photography sale in her recently opened gallery in Moweaqua.) Take your daughter to an art class and encourage her to experiment. Sign up for a portrait class from a woman artist and take your mom or your grandmother with you. Gather friends together to knit, or paint mandalas. Buy your son-in-law art made by a woman, as my mother did when she gave my husband Eleanor Coen’s lithograph of her son holding his cat.

Be merry!

First IWA Symposium

The first IWA Symposium was held on April 18, 2009, at Illinois State University in Normal.

"What an amazing day! I was blown away by every presentation. It was an honor to meet so many gifted academics and artists, and I look forward to seeing where all of our research leads us now!" Britten Traughber, ISU

Smoothly orchestrated by ISU assistant professor Melissa Johnson, the symposium brought together students, professors, historians, and others to talk about women artists. The students delivered their papers, complete with pictures of the artwork and of the artists themselves, and then took questions from the audience. It was a rich and rewarding exchange.

Later in the afternoon, the group toured the ISU University Gallery exhibitions, which included work prepared by several Symposium presenters.

We were fortunate to have Abercrombie expert Susan Weininger from Chicago, attend the symposium. An Abercrombie expert, she has curated exhibits and written extensively about the artist. She selected one of the images and talked to viewers about the painter and her work. Then some of the symposium members continued the conversation about women artists in the ISU University Gallery.

To the speakers, organizer Melissa Johnson said: "I am struck by how this project has energized all of you, and I'm so pleased that you agreed to present your work and share it with everyone. Marilyn Leyland was right in observing that you will carry this project with you long after the actual work is done."

Marilyn Leyland, a historian and president of the Peoria Historical Society, commented: "I found today's session on Illinois women artists particularly stimulating. Not only the students but the teachers learned from the effort which is only beginning, but has already shown great promise."

The second IWA Symposium will be held in the spring of 2010, at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois