2013 Symposium


NOVEMBER 7 & 8, 2013

Join us for this interdisciplinary conference to explore the art, experiences and legacies of women artists working in the Midwest between 1840 and 1940.

The Midwestern United States consists of the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The symposium is organized by the Bradley University Art History Program and the Illinois Women Artists Project with support from the Inland Visual Studies Center and the Peoria Riverfront Museum.The symposium is made possible in part by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Illinois general Assembly.

Symposium expenses are being covered by our sponsors and donors. Lunch, travel and overnight expenses will be the responsibility of the symposium participant.

THE SYMPOSIUM IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Registration is recommended.

To register,please click here.

Symposium Highlights

The symposium opens the afternoon of Thursday November 7 with tours of the Citywide Celebration of Women Artists exhibitions. At 5:00pm Wanda Corn, PhD, will give the Keynote Address at the Caterpillar Global Communications Center on the Bradley campus. At 6:00pm a reception and tour of the exhibition of paintings by Eleanor Coen led by the artist's daughter Katie Kahn at the University's Heuser Art Center Gallery. An exhibition of Matters of Women will be on display at Hartmann Gallery.
On Friday November 8, panel discussions and presentations will be held at Westlake Hall on the Bradley campus.

Keynote Speaker

We are very pleased to welcome Wanda Corn as our keynote speaker. Dr. Corn is a nationally recognized historian of American art and the Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor Emerita in Art History,Stanford University, where she served as Chair of the Department of Art and Art History. Dr. Corn is the author of The Great American Thing, Modern Art and National Identity, 1915-1935, Seeing Gertrude Stein: five stories, and most recently Women Building History: Public Art at the 1893 Columbian Exposition, which will be the subject of her talk.

Keynote Address:Women Building History:Mary Cassatt and Her Sister Artists at the 1893 Columbian Exposition
The large-scale public works decorating the Woman’s Building, a large exposition hall, were among the most unusual artistic features at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Customarily,large-scale murals and sculptures were the domain of men, so it was newsworthy when the female managers of the Woman’s Building commissioned women artists to decorate their building.They invited Mary Cassatt and Mary MacMonnies to create monumental paintings for the building’s grand hall; Alice Rideout to craft large-scaled sculptures for the exterior of the building, and other women to make wall murals and stained glass windows. Dr.Corn will explore how women used their unique opportunity to imagine a visual history of women, revising the male view of history seen elsewhere at the fair.

Panel: Telling Women Artists' Stories

A discussion of researching, writing and displaying the artwork, artifacts, and experiences of women's history will be led by Joni Kinsey, PhD, Professor of Art History at the University of Iowa, curator of the Eve Drewelowe Collection, author of several books including Plain Pictures: Images of the American Prairie and Thomas Moran's West: Chromolithography, High Art, and Popular Taste.

The panelists are:

Joanna Gardner-Huggett , PhD, Associate Professor of Art History at DePaul University, and author, specializing in research on the intersection between feminist art and activism.

Julie L'Enfant, PhD, art historian, formerly chair of Liberal Arts and professor of art history, College of Visual Arts, St. Paul. She is the author of Pioneer Modernists: Minnesota's First Generation of Women Artists.

Jim Zimmer, Director of Art and History at Illinois State Museum, Springfield, Illinois, curator of The Urge to Embellish among other exhibitions.

Panel: Art Practice, Lessons and Legacies

Connecting early women artists and art mediums with today's artists, the panel will discuss lessons learned, forgotten and reinvigorated over the past century. The panel leader is Heather Brammeier, artist, associate professor of painting, Bradley University.

The panelists are:

Carol Dearborn, painter and art workshop leader with a special interest in creativity and Shamanism. She is the third generation of women painters in her family.

Joan Ericksen, artist and co-founder and development director, Sun Foundation in Washburn, Illinois.

Lynn Hellmuth, sculptor, exhibition designer and curator in Madison, Wisconsin.

Beate Minkovski, co-founder and executive director of the Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, Illinois.

Joyce Owens,artist, curator of the galleries program at Chicago State University, and art professor in drawing/painting in Chicago, Illinois.


Lonnie Pierson Dunbier is co-founder of AskArt.com and currently a research associate. Her publications include "The Artists Bluebook, 34,000 North American Artists" and most recently "Arizona's Pioneering Women Artists, Impressions of the Grand Canyon State" to accompany the exhibition. In her presentation, Dunbier describes the experiences and influences of twenty-nine Illinois women artists who transitioned between places of established culture, such as Chicago, to the Southwest, an area preoccupied with cotton, copper, cactus and cowboys.

Title: Illinois and Arizona: Connected by Women Artists Before 1945

Mary Caroline Simpson, PhD, is assistant professor at Eastern Illinois University. Simpson will discuss the controversy over the increased visibility and power of women in Chicago's art community, focusing on artist Eleanor Coen, whose painting was one of only 50 selected among 2,000 works at the 1957 Navy Pier art show for exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. A newspaper announced her award with the headline, "Housewife Wins $1,500 Art Prize." Coen stood in the center of the controversial discussions and the actions that reshaped the environment into a new cultural arena.

Title: Representing the Growing City: Women, Art, and Urban Revitalization in 1950's Chicago

Sharon Kennedy is curator of cultural and civic engagement at the University of Nebraska's Sheldon Museum of Art. Her presentation highlights the contributions and influence of three women artist-educators to the University of Nebraska and the Lincoln community at the turn of the century. Offering a picture of the history of cultural arts in Nebraska in the early 20th century, Kennedy considers why these women left art hubs such as Chicago and New York to develop the university's first art program, and how they maintained positions of power for more than a quarter century.

Title: Creating Culture in the Midwest: Women Artists 1884-1916

Joby Patterson, PhD, will examine the life and works of Norma Bassett Hall, a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago who moved to El Dorado, Kansas with her husband, taught herself to make color wood block prints, developed her own style using Japanese water-based techniques, and created images that responded to the heartland landscape. Patterson, former adjunct professor at the University of Oregon, is the author of Bertha E. Jaques and the Chicago Society of Etchers. She is preparing a book on Norma Bassett Hall to accompany an exhibition of Hall's works which she is curating.

Title: Remembering the Past: Norma Bassett Hall and the Arts & Crafts Tradition

Lara Kuykendall PhD, is assistant professor of art history at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. In her presentation, she explores Constance Coleman Richardson's early career in Indianapolis and Detroit. Her paintings reflect her interest in the beauty of the American terrain as it is affected by weather and atmosphere. Kuykendall will focus on the anomalous character of her painting called "Streetlight" in the context of the artist's development and the wider scope of American Scene painting of the 1930s.

Title: Constance Coleman Richardson and the American Scene

The afternoon session will be moderated by Kristan McKinsey, director of collections/senior curator for the Peoria Riverfront Museum.