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Table of contents
10 Deborah roberts 12 hilma af klint
14 Elizabeth catlett
16 Hannah hoch
18 eva hesse
20 SHEiLA HICKS
22 HARRIET POWERS
24 RUTH Asawa
26 betty woodman
28 Howardena Pindell
30 teresa burga 34 Conclusion
32 alma thomas and 36 sources resource
Table of contents
Introduction For decades women artists have tried to bring attention to their work. Beginning in the summer of 1985, groups like Guerrilla Girls, who famously wore guerrilla masks, protested the white male dominated art world (Stein 93). In posters, Guerrilla Girls talked about the so-called “advantages” of being a women artist such as, “Knowing your career might pick up after you’re eighty,” and “Not having to be in shows with men,” or “Having the opportunity to choose between career and motherhood.”(Fig.1) More than thirty years later, women artists are struggling against the same issues. Society has not made it easy for womxn artists to be seen, appreciated, and represented. There are many factors that have made it difficult for women artists to be shown. According to Emily Jensen,
“White male artists represented 75.7 percent of the works at 18 major museums across the United States”
(Jensen,“Three Decades of Behaving Badly With the Guerrilla Girls.”). Current museum curators are using an outdated “canon,” a term which refers to conventional ideas of who should be considered “great artists.”(National Portrait Gallery,Glossary) In 1971, art historian Linda Nochlin discussed the canon’s biases in her groundbreaking essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?,”
“I wanted to show the history and strength of all kinds of black women. Working women, country women, urban women, great women in the history of the United States.” -Elizabeth Catlett page 7
which challenged curators and historians to consider the contributions of women. Expanding the canon would help to create more diversity and inclusivity in the art world. Because the canon is focused on male art, it has made it nearly impossible for women to fit the narrative of what is a great artist. Art historians and art educators can help solve the problem of underrepresented women artists by changing and
updating the canon, creating more diverse and inclusive textbooks for scholars and students of art history, and educating teachers and students about the importance of women artists.
“It was not very easy for a woman to impose herself as a modern artist in Germany… Most of our male colleagues continued for a long time to look upon us as charming and gifted amateurs, denying us implicitly any real professional status.”-Hannah Höch page 9
Deborah roberts Collage artist and painter 1962-present
Deborah Roberts was born in 1962 in Texas and is an artist who combines painting and collage. Roberts began her studies at the University of North Texas graduating with a BFA in 1985. After a 30 year gap she returned to school to earn her MFA from Syracuse University in 2014. Living and working out of Austin, Texas, she merges painting and collage drawing from pop culture images.
Roberts’s work deals with perceptions of beauty and race, and changing views and ideas about the female figure. Roberts often uses imagery of children, drawing from her experience as a young black girl in the 1960s and 1970s. Through these images she makes powerful statements on black identity.
Activity Collage+Painting Self Portrait Materials: Glue White paper Magazines and newspaper Scissors Washable paints Brushes Steps: 1)Fill water cups and make sure the students have all of the materials. 2)Give the students paper and instruct them to create their own self portrait. 3)Instruct the students to cut anything they want from newspaper and magazines. 4)Have the students if they want add paint too. 5)Lastly have the class pin the work up in front of the class,Ask the students to point out elements they liked.
Hilma af Klint painter 1862-1944
Hilma af Klint was a Swedish painter born in 1862. She was ahead of her time creating her abstract paintings decades before that style of art was popularized.When she graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1887 her early work was mostly figurative and landscape paintings. However her paintings took a shift after the death of her sister in 1880. That’s when Klint became involved in spiritualism. It’s important to note that spiritualism was linked to the suffragette movement, the struggle of women to gain the right to vote.In the 1890s Klint started practicing séances with “The Five,” a group of female artists who believed in spiritualism.
In 1904 the higher powers (spirits) requested her to start a great commission and in 1906 she would start on a series of paintings for the temple. In 1908 alone she painted 111 pieces for the theoretical temple part of a total of 193 compositions. Out of these paintings stand out, the “ten largest” are ten foot tall canvases that depict the lifecycle of a human, and each took four days to complete. Klint created her own own vernacular language in her paintings that consisted of letters,shapes and words, the meanings of which she kept in a lexicon notebook. Her paintings used elements of automatic drawing and abstract botanical shapes to create a surrealist canvas. Klint rarely showed her work and kept it out of public view, instructing not to have her work shown until twenty years after her death. Klint would not receive recognition for her work until most notably in 2018 at the Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Activity Large Collaborative Water Color Materials: Large white paper Watercolor paints Brushes Cups Steps: 1)Fill water cups and make sure the students have all of the materials. 2)Instruct the students to collaborate and use the same large sheet of paper. 3)Emphasize ideas of abstraction and encourage the students to work together to fill the page(no white space) 4)Lastly have the class pin the work up in front of the class. Ask the students to point out elements they like.
hilma af klint
elizabeth Catlett printmaker and Sculptor 1915-2012
Catlett was an activist, printmaker, and sculptor whose work primarily focused on social justice issues. Growing up in segregated DC,she was raised by her mother and grandmother .As a granddaughter of freed slaves stories of her grandparents’ enslavement influenced her work. Catlett won a scholarship to attend Carnegie Technical Institute but was then unadmitted on the basis of her race. This led Catlett to attend Howard University, graduating with a degree in art in 1935. She later went on to earn her MFA in 1940 at the University of Iowa studinging under Grant Wood.
After completing her MFA she worked as an art teacher until 1945 when she received the Rosenwald Fellowship which allowed her to travel toMexico City. Moving to Mexico was a turning point in Thomas’s career and she would live and teach there until her death in 2012. Catlett was the head of the sculpture department at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.
Activity Printmaking Relief Materials: Cardboard Roller Liquid glue Paint Paper Pencil Steps: 1)Make sure the students have all of the materials. 2)Instruct the students to draw shapes on the square of cardboard.(Let the students know the design will be flipped when it’s printed) 3)Have the students cut the shapes out of a separate pieces of cardboard and have then glue it to square. 4)Wait until glue is fully dried. 5)Have the students apply paint to their rollers. 6)Have the students roll over the design. 7)Have the students press the cardboard onto a sheet of paper imprinting the design. 8)Lastly have the students share their work in front of the class. Ask them how this project made them feel.
Hannah Höch Collage artist 1889-1978
Hannah Höch was born in 1889 in Germany and was the only female member of the Dada art movement. Living in Germany during the First and Second World Wars made her work inherently antiwar and against the establishment. She used the technique of photomontage, a form of collage to critique on sexism in Germany. Höch was a pioneer in photomontage, where she would use photographs and words clipped from newspaper and magazine clippings to produce an entirely new composition.
She often used images of the female body and distorted them to question beauty standards (example). One of her most famous works is “Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany” (1919), a photomontage of post war Germany. This work, like many of her works, had subtle feminist undertones. For example, she included in the right corner a map of the countries that had given women the right to vote. When Nazis gained power in Germany in 1933 they outlawed her work considering it “degenerate.” During the Third Reich, Höch stayed in Germany despite the danger. She kept her fellow artists’ work in safekeeping, preventing it from being destroyed.
Freestyle Collaborative Collage Materials: Magazines Scissor Glue Paper
1)Make sure the students have all of the materials. 2)Instruct the students to cut anything they want from newspaper and magazines. 3)Have the students glue what they have cut out onto the group paper 4)Emphasize the use of creativity. 5)Lastly have the class pin the work up in front of the class. Ask the students to point out elements they liked.
eva Hesse sculptor 1936-1970
Eva Hesse (1936-1970) was born in Germany. Anti-semiticism under the Nazi government in Germany made living there increasly dangerous. Hesse came to America as a Jewish refugee in 1939. She would go on to create sculptures with revolutionary non conventional materials. Graduating from Yale School of Art in 1959 Hesse initially aspired to be a textile designer.Then she would go on to create sculptures out of materials such as mesh fiberglass and industrial latex.
Hesse’s sculptures combined machine and minal ascetic with materials evoking the body. Her career however was cut short when she died of a brain tumor at the age of 35 in 1970.
Glue String Art Materials: Cardboard Glue Yarn Scissors Paint Brushes Water
Steps: 1)Make sure the students have all of the materials. 2)Handout a mixture of water and glue in a cup to every other student. (sharing is caring) 3)Hand out lots of pre cut string/yarn. 4)Have the students cut out any shape from cardboard. 5)Instruct the students to dip the string/yarn in the glue and place it on the cardboard.(project may take a bit to dry) 6)Paint (optional) 7)Lastly have the students share their work in front of the class. Ask them how this project made them feel.
Sheila Hicks Fiber Artist 1934-present
Sheila Hicks was born in 1934 in Nebraska. She creates large fiber sculptures that often contain elements of weaving. In her early years she attended the Yale School of Art with Eva Hesse. Her love for textiles flourished in 1957 when she received a scholarship to travel to Chile to study Andean textiles. Fiber arts are often labeled as a “women’s craft,” but Hicks uses fibers and textiles to redefine sculpture and installation art. Hicks’s works range from making “minimes” tiny weavings to large scale sculptures this variety allows her to play with scale. After living in Mexico for several years, she moved to Paris in 1964 where she continues to make vibrant works. Her works are large in scale and use vivid colors that fill the space creating installation art.
Activity Weaving Materials: Cardboard Yarn Scissors Needle 1)Make sure the students have all of the materials. 2)Handout pre cut cardboard circles.(with smaller cuts on the sides)(see image ) 3)Have students wrap string around the circle.(see image ) 4)Instruct the students to thread the needle and weave through the string. (see image) 5)Lastly have the students share their work in front of the class. Ask them how this project made them feel.
harriet powers Quilter 1837-1910
Harriet Powers was born into slavery in 1837 in Georgia. After the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, Powers was free at the age of 28. It was against the law for slaves to learn to read and write in Georgia so Powers told stories without words. She used quilts to tell stories with narrative applique influenced by West African designs. Powers would not show her quilts to the public until 1886 when she displayed her Bible Quilt at the cotton fair in Athens, Georgia. Only two of her quilts survive today: The Bible Quilt and The Pictorial Quilt.
The Bible Quilt was sold for five dollars to Jennie Smith, a local art teacher. When Powers sold her quilt she left an explanation of the quilts’ meaning with Smith. It wasn’t until decades after her death that Powers received recognition for her work. Her quilts are now part of the permanent collection of both the Smithsonian Institution and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Activity Quilt Story Materials: Colored Paper Coloring Materials Glue Scissors Steps: 1)Make sure the students have all of the materials.(Preper and hand out one for every student.) 2)Have the students decide on a story they would like to then have each student take a section of that story. 3)Instruct the students to illustrate the section of the chose with any materials. 4)Lastly have the class pin the squares up in order. Ask point out elements they liked.
cut squares of paillustrate and story that they the students to
ruth asawa Sculptor 1926-2013
Ruth Asawa was born in 1926 in California. She spent her childhood on a farm, but during her teen years was forced to live at Santa Anita, an internment camp for people of Japanese descent during World War Two. During her time at Santa Anita she drew for five hours a day under the supervision of ex-Disney illustrators who were also interned. The internment camp separated her family and Asawa wouldn’t see her father for six years. When the war was over she was able to attend attended Black Mountain College in North Carolina from 1946 to 1949.
After college she moved to San Francisco with her husband and continued making art in her home studio while raising six children. In 1947 she took a trip to Mexico where she was greatly inspired by local basket weaving. She began in the 1950s to create woven mesh hanging sculptures influenced by basket weaving. Asawa while being an accomplished artist also was a groundbreaking art educator and advocate for art education. In 1968 she co-founded Alvarado School Art Workshop for children. Asawa’s art programs are now a model for many in the United States. She was so influential in art education that the San Francisco School of the Arts, a public alternative high school, renamed itself after her in 2010.
Activity Balloon Sculpture Materials: String Glue Scissors Balloon 1)Make sure the students have all of the materials. 2)Have the students blow up a balloon to their desired size. 3)Hand out cups with liquid glue. 4)Instruct the students dip the string in the cup. 5)Then have the students cover the balloon with glue string. 6)Wait for it to dry. 7) Then pop the balloon 8) Students can paint and decorate it as well. 9)Lastly have the students share their work in front of the class.Ask them how this project made them feel.
betty woodman Potter 1930-2018
Betty Woodman was born in Connecticut in 1930. She combined painting with 3-D ceramics to create colorful installations. Starting at age sixteen, she trained as a functional potter at the School for American Craftsmen in Alfred, New York, from 1948 to 1950. Her work was heavily influenced by her travels to Italy in 1952 where she drew inspiration from everything from majolica pottery to Italian Renaissance landscapes. Throughout her work she draws from art historical backgrounds of pot designs from ancient Greek, Etruscan, European, and Asian cultures.
While much of Woodman’s early career was spent on functional pottery she would shift her focus to more installation work. She merged painting and pottery to create work that used functional pottery to create a quite painterly landscape.This unique merging of styles helped her to become the first living female artist to be honoured with a retrospective at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2006.
Homemade Clay Materials: Flour Paint Brushes Salt Water
1)Make sure the students have all of the materials. 2)Mix 1 1/2 cups of salt and 4 cups of flour in a bowl. 3)Add 1 1/2 cups of water gradually. 4)Mix until it can be molded and doesn’t fall apart. 5)Have students make vessels from the clay. 6)Wait two days for clay to dry. 7)Have students paint the vessel. 8)Lastly have the students share their work in front of the class. Ask them how this project made them feel.
Howardena Pindell painter 1943-present
Howardena Pindell was born in Philadelphia in 1943 and was a trailblazer of abstraction. Pindell began her studies in painting at Boston University where she received her BFA in 1965 and then earned her MFA in 1967 from Yale University. Shortly after graduating Pindell worked at the Museum of Modern Art in the Department of Prints and Illustrated Books (1967–1979). During this period Pindell worked on textured abstraction in her paintings, inspired by African textiles on a trip to Africa in 1973. Pindell implemented techniques such as punched out dots and included materials such as glitter and talcum powder to create extremely dynamic paintings. In 1979 she was in a car crash where she suffered from memory loss. The crash altered her work and career and from this point forward her work focused on autobiographical content. That same year she began teaching at the State University of New York, Stony Brook where she is currently a full time professor. Throughout Pindell’s career she has experienced racism and sexism causing most of her work to go unrecognized. Her video work “Free, White, and 21” discusses instances of racism she has experienced throughout her life.
Activity Cut Circles Materials: Hole Punch Glue Paper 1)Make sure the students have all of the materials. 2) Then instruct the students to hole punch the sheets of paper. (leaving one page untouched) 3)Have the students glue the dots onto the untouched sheet. 4)Lastly have the students share their work in front of the class. Ask them how this project made them feel.
Teresa Burga sculptor 1935-2021
Teresa Burga was born in Peru in 1935 and played an instrumental role in the Pop Art movement. She began her studies at Pontifical Catholic University in Lima. After graduating in 1965 she joined the group Arte Nuevo from 1966 to 1968. Arte Nuevo was a collective that brought new movements like Pop Art to the Peruvian art scene in the late 1960s. During Burga’s time with the group she created works like “Cubes” in 1968.
Cubes is comprised of multiple plywood blocks covered in vibrant colors and shapes that evoke images of female bodies. In 1968 Burga traveled to Chicago to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s MFA program on a Fulbright scholarship. Burga used Pop Art and installation to critique notions of femininity and domestic labor, creating a bright and colorful language. Burga died in Peru of COVID-19 in 2021.
Activity Pop art Boxes Materials: Cardboard box Glue Colored paper Scissors
1)Make sure the students have all of the materials. 2)Cut out shapes(triangles,circles,etc) out of different colored paper. 3)Have students glue the shapes onto their own individual box. 4)Instruct the students stack up all the all of the boxes to create a sculpture. 5)Lastly have the students share their work in front of the class. Ask them how this project made them feel.
Alma Thomas Painter 1891-1978
Alma Thomas was a pioneer of abstraction who was born in 1891 in Georgia, where she spent most of her childhood. Her family valued education and wanted Thomas and her sisters to be well educated. However, Georgia was segregated and black students couldn’t attend school after junior high. In order for Thomas and her sisters to receive a high school degree, her parents moved the family to Washington, DC. Attending high school opened many doors for Thomas, and she would go on to attend Howard University in 1921. At the time women could only major in home economics, however Alma was interested in sculpture, portraiture, and fine arts. Thomas would become the first graduate with a degree in fine arts from Howard in 1924. She would go on to become a junior high school math teacher from 1924 until 1960 because of her lifelong love of math and science. During her time as a math teacher she still was active in art, and at her school she created an art league that met on Saturday mornings. She also worked on founding the Barnett-Aden Gallery which was the first interracial gallery in DC. Throughout her life she used art as a place of refuge. When she retired, she enrolled in the American University in DC as a senior citizen studying art. Thomas became a full-time artist in her 70s. Her age didn’t stop her from becoming a successful artist, even though she suffered from arthritis. She attached elastic to her canvas to steady her hand.
Thomas created a large abstract painting filled with a rainbow of color.She used themes of earth, space, orbit, and flowers which appeared throughout her work. These themes created a sense of joy, limitlessness, and freedom. In a time of great political upheaval, painting was her form of escapism, which made her work not inherently political. However she was an activist in other ways, using her talents to break down barriers. In 1972 she became the first Black woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney in New York City. Until her death in 1978 she continued to paint compositions that layered texture, color, shape, and rhythm to create energy.
Activity Option No.1:Ripped Paper Painting Materials: Glue Colored paper White paper Scissors Steps: 1)Make sure the students have all of the materials. 2)Instruct the students to tear the colored paper of their choice into any shape and size they wish.(*If students are frustrated hand out safety scissors) 3)Have the students glue the torn paper on the white paper. 5)Emphasize the use of pattern and encourage the students to create their own patterns while glueing. 4)Lastly have the students share their work in front of the class.Ask them how this project made them feel.
Option No.2:Painting Materials: Paint White paper(any will do) Water cups Brushes Steps: 1)Fill water cups and make sure the students have all of the materials. 2)Instruct the students to create their own unique brush stroke like Alma’s strokes.(let the students pick out their own paint colors) 3)Emahasize the use of pattern and encourage the students to create their own patterns while painting. 4)Lastly have the students share their work in front of the class. Ask them how this project made them feel.
“I want them to look at the hidden history instead of the history we were taught”. -Howardena pindell
conclusion The canon in art history complicitly ignores women, and the canon being the basis for most art history textbooks leads to underrepresentation of women in these texts. Art educators use these textbooks as a framework for their curriculum which in turn means students aren’t learning about women artists. The art education system needs to reassess the canon in a way that includes women as well as other marginalised artists and bring them to the forefront of art history. In order to make this change there need to be more textbooks with women authorship and a K-12 art education curriculum that includes women artists in an engaging way. Changing the way art history has been written and taught could have positive effects on how women are viewed in the art world as well as inspire younger generations to become great women artists.
Sources+resources Deborah Roberts Hessel, Katy. “Deborah Roberts.” The Great Women Artists Podcast, episode 27, 2020, www.thegreatwomenartists.com/katy-hessel-podcast Deborah Roberts, www.deborahrobertsart.com/.
Hilma af klint Ignotofsky,Rachel,Women in art: 50 fearless creatives who inspired the world.Wren & Rook,2020. Cahill,James,et al. ,Great Women Artists.Phaidon Press Inc,2019. Hessel, Katy. “Tracey Bashkoff on Hilma af Klint.” The Great Women Artists Podcast, episode 41, 2020, www. thegreatwomenartists.com/katy-hessel-podcast Klint, Hilma af, et al. Hilma Af Klint: Notes and Methods. Christine Burgin, 2018. About Hilma Af Klint, www.hilmaafklint.se/en/about-hilmaaf-klint/.
elizabeth Catlett Ignotofsky,Rachel,Women in art: 50 fearless creatives who inspired the world.Wren & Rook,2020. Cahill,James,et al. ,Great Women Artists.Phaidon Press Inc,2019. Hessel, Katy. “Melanie Herzog on Elizabeth Catlett.” The Great Women Artists Podcast, episode 40, 2020, www. thegreatwomenartists.com/katy-hessel-podcast Herzog, Melanie. Elizabeth Catlett: an American Artist in Mexico. University of Washington Press, 2005.
hannah hoch Ignotofsky,Rachel,Women in art: 50 fearless creatives who inspired the world.Wren & Rook,2020. Cahill,James,et al. ,Great Women Artists.Phaidon Press Inc,2019.
eva hesse Ignotofsky,Rachel,Women in art: 50 fearless creatives who inspired the world.Wren & Rook,2020. Cahill,James,et al. ,Great Women Artists.Phaidon Press Inc,2019. Hessel, Katy. “Briony Fer on Eva Hesse.” The Great Women Artists Podcast, episode 30, 2020, www.thegreatwomenartists.com/katy-hessel-podcast
shelia hicks Ignotofsky,Rachel,Women in art: 50 fearless creatives who inspired the world.Wren & Rook,2020. Cahill,James,et al. ,Great Women Artists.Phaidon Press Inc,2019.
harriet powers Ignotofsky,Rachel,Women in art: 50 fearless creatives who inspired the world.Wren & Rook,2020. Cahill,James,et al. ,Great Women Artists.Phaidon Press Inc,2019.
ruth asawa Ignotofsky,Rachel,Women in art: 50 fearless creatives who inspired the world.Wren & Rook,2020. Cahill,James,et al. ,Great Women Artists.Phaidon Press Inc,2019. D’Aquino, Andrea. A Life Made by Hand: the Story of Ruth Asawa. Princeton Architectural Press, 2019.
betty Woodman “Betty Woodman.” Smithsonian American Art Museum, americanart.si.edu/artist/betty-woodman-6016. Cahill,James,et al. ,Great Women Artists.Phaidon Press Inc,2019.
Sources + resources
howardena Pindell Hessel, Katy. “Howardena Pindell” The Great Women Artists Podcast, episode 54, 2021, www.thegreatwomenartists.com/ katy-hessel-podcast Howardena Pindell, www.howardenapindell.org/. “Who Is Howardena Pindell? | THE SHED.” YouTube, YouTube, 1 Oct. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEyza1yBGig. Cahill,James,et al. ,Great Women Artists.Phaidon Press Inc,2019.
Teresa burga “Teresa Burga (1935–2021).” Teresa Burga (1935–2021) Artforum International, 17 Feb. 2021, www.artforum.com/ news/teresa-burga-1935-2021-85081. Tate. “Teresa Burga.” Tate, www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/ tate-modern/exhibition/ey-exhibition-world-goes-pop/artist-biography/teresa-burga.
Alma thomas Ignotofsky,Rachel,Women in art: 50 fearless creatives who inspired the world.Wren & Rook,2020. Cahill,James,et al. ,Great Women Artists.Phaidon Press Inc,2019. Hessel, Katy. “Bridget R Cooks on Alma Thomas.” The Great Women Artists Podcast, episode 37, 2020, www.thegreatwomenartists.com/katy-hessel-podcast
In my work I combine graphic design with femnist theory ,utilizing curriculum, illustration and art history to create an alternative canon....
Published on Apr 26, 2021
In my work I combine graphic design with femnist theory ,utilizing curriculum, illustration and art history to create an alternative canon....