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ArtCity: Why are there so few women in art history? – Woodstock Sentinel Review

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They say that those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it, but who wrote the history we learn in the first place?

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They say that those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it, but who wrote the history we learn in the first place?

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As someone who has been deeply passionate about the arts from a very young age, I’ve often found myself at odds with this question. Over the years, my interest in the arts has led me to take classes throughout high school and university. I’ve also volunteered at the Woodstock Art Gallery, where I currently work as a front desk attendant summer student.

Throughout my exposure to the arts, I’ve learned the discipline, like many others, is built upon the works and contributions of those who came before. Ultimately, within the uniqueness of every piece of art, something innately human is revealed. Yet, the more I read about old masters like Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Raphael, the more I can’t help but wonder – where were all the women artists? When I gathered the courage to ask my former art teacher why the majority of our art history curriculum catered to white men, the answer I was met with was simply this: “It is difficult to learn about female artists in art history because there’s hardly any significant female artists to talk about in the first place.”

So why is there a lack of female artists to begin with?

Many, including myself, might at first assume that women just aren’t as capable as men in terms of artistic ability. In her 1971 essay, Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists, art historian Linda Nochlin writes the mere question “falsifies the nature of the issue at the same time that it insidiously implies its own answer: ‘There have been no great women artists because women are incapable of greatness.’” The fact that these assumptions still linger is a testament to the shortcomings of art history. What is the actual reason behind the distinct gender gap we see in art today, and to what extent has historical bias influenced our current perception of the art world?

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It goes without saying that women’s underrepresentation and lack of recognition in Western art history is complicated. Women were historically excluded and actively discouraged from partaking within the same spheres as men, including the artistic sphere. Women were likewise barred from entering art academies, undergoing formal artistic training, or even acquiring an education in general – the very building blocks to becoming an artist in the first place. The quintessential middle-class, white, male archetype associated with the default “ideal artist” prevailed because aspiring female artists were excluded from these institutions that helped cultivate artistic proficiency.

As Nochlin explains, one example of gender-based institutional discrimination can be seen through women’s access to life drawing during the 19th century. Due to the rising popularity of history painting at the time, life drawing was seen as a mandatory prerequisite to one’s artistic cultivation. Even once women were finally allowed into life drawing classes, they were burdened with the responsibility to have their works remain modest – a restriction that did not apply to men – despite the common belief that “there could be no great painting with clothed figures.” The male administration specifically prohibited nude models from appearing in anything less than “partially draped.” While men could undergo artistic training without restraints, women often faced hostility when fighting for equal footing within those same institutions.

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All in all, to truly learn from history, we must also understand the foundations on which it was written. Though notable names such as Artemisia Gentileschi, Berthe Morisot and Frida Khalo have gained considerable mainstream notoriety, it remains true that the number of male artistic masters still outnumber the women. While we cannot rewrite the past, we can add nuance to how it’s told.

As I’ve learned in my time at the Woodstock Art Gallery, one place we can start is right here at home. The gallery’s 2019 exhibition, Given Her Due: Oxford County Women Artists 1880–1908, showcases the work of talented and sometimes overlooked female artists of this region, including Eva Bradshaw, Betty McArthur, Jaquie Poole, Fryke Oostenbrug, and more. You can explore a 3D virtual tour of this exhibition online at www.woodstockartgallery.ca. The gallery’s permanent collection also highlights the artwork of Florence Carlyle, who broke boundaries as a prominent Canadian painter in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Carlyle – along with other notable female artists in the collection – is featured in the current exhibition My Favourite Artwork, which launched when the Woodstock Art Gallery reopened on Aug. 3.

Vicky Lin is the front desk attendant at the Woodstock Art Gallery. The Woodstock Art Gallery acknowledges the support for this position, which is funded by two federal student employment programs: Young Canada Works and Canada Summer Jobs.

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Indigenous knowledge keepers help Winnipeg Art Gallery in renaming of art collections – CTV News Winnipeg

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WINNIPEG –

Indigenous knowledge keepers are helping Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq rename pieces of art that were given inappropriate titles.

Julia Lafreniere, head of Indigenous initiatives at WAG-Qaumajuq, has been working with researchers and Indigenous knowledge keepers to identify 57 works at the gallery that are in need of a name change.

It is part of the art gallery’s work to decolonize its collection.

“As with many historical art collections at galleries, there are often pieces that have inappropriate titles in today’s context. For example, some pieces will still carry words like ‘Indian,’ or ‘Eskimo,’ or ‘Savage,'” Lafreniere told CTV News.

Julia Lafreniere, head of Indigenous initiatives at WAG-Qaumajuq, has been working with researchers and Indigenous knowledge keepers to identify 57 works at the gallery that are in need of a name change. (Source: Danton Unger/ CTV News Winnipeg)

The gallery identified each nation depicted in these 57 pieces, and asked knowledge keepers from those nations to rename the art. She said Anishinaabe, Cree, Dakota, Inuit and Dene knowledge keepers joined the initiative.

“They all did it in their own way,” Lafreniere said, adding some knowledge keepers held renaming ceremonies, giving the pieces new names in their Indigenous languages.

One collection, formerly titled ‘Drawings of Eskimo Clothing’, is being given a new name in Inuktitut, ‘Ajjinuanga Angnaop Annuranganik.’

One collection, formerly titled ‘Drawings of Eskimo Clothing’ (pictured), is being given a new name in Inuktitut, ‘Ajjnuanga Angnaop Annurangnik’ as a part of WAG-Qaumajuq’s renaming initiative. (Source: Danton Unger/ CTV News Winnipeg)

While the pieces are getting new names, Lafreniere said the knowledge keepers have asked that the old names still be included to be used as an educational tool.

She said the renaming is an important step.

“The titles, oftentimes, are the first way that the artwork is introduced to the public and people engaging with that artwork,” she said.

“Giving them these new titles given by ceremonial leaders from the Indigenous community, it really ingrains Indigenous knowledge into the canon of art history.”

She said WAG-Qaumajuq is the first art gallery to do this kind of renaming initiative, but she hopes other galleries do the same. 

More information about the Artworks Renaming Initiative can be found online.

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Jidar, Rabat's street art festival draws international attention | | AW – The Arab Weekly

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Jidar, Rabat’s street art festival draws international attention | | AW  The Arab Weekly



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Art Beat: Prize-winning author pays Coast a virtual visit – Coast Reporter

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The Sunshine Coast Arts Council’s Reading Series presents author Gil Adamson on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. Adamson will read from her recent novel, Ridgerunner, a finalist for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and winner of the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Set in the Canadian and U.S. West in 1917, the book is a sequel to Adamson’s well-received first novel, Outlander. Publisher House of Anansi described Ridgerunner as “a vivid historical novel that draws from the epic tradition… a literary Western brimming with a cast of unforgettable characters touched with humour and loss, and steeped in the wild of the natural world.” The reading is a Zoom event and it’s free. Register in advance through eventbrite.ca.

A Beautiful Mess

FibreWorks Studio & Gallery in Madeira Park is holding an opening reception on Saturday, Sept. 18 for its new exhibition, A Beautiful Mess: the joyful & random discovery of the artistic process. Creating something real out of the imagination can be a dishevelled and uncertain undertaking, usually carried out in private. Here, FibreWorks is turning that inside-out. “This show aims to create a sense of intimacy between the artist and the public.” The reception runs from 2 to 4 p.m. The show will run until Oct.31.

Live Music

The Roberts Creek Legion has helped keep live music going on the Sunshine Coast through the warmer days over the past 18 months, thanks to its outdoor stage. Those setups have kept patrons in the fresh air and safely separated. Now the club is moving its visiting bands back to its indoor stage – and visitors onto its new dance floor – with a “Grande Re-Opening” on Friday, Sept. 17, featuring the Ween tribute band, Captain Fantasy. Doors at 7 p.m. The legion follows on Saturday, Sept. 18, from 7 to 11 p.m. with a string of acts, including The Locals, Eddy Edrick, Michelle Morand, and an open-stage jam. Proof of vaccination will be required for admission to all shows.

The Locals also play the outdoor venue at Tapworks in Gibsons on Saturday, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. That might depend on the weather, as (at press time) heavy rain was forecast for Saturday.

The Clubhouse Restaurant in Pender Harbour presents Karl Kirkaldy on Friday, Sept. 17, from 5 to 8 p.m. On Sunday, Sept. 19, Half Cut and The Slackers rock the Clubhouse from 2 to 5 p.m.

Joe Stanton is scheduled to entertain on Saturday, Sept. 18 on the patio at the Backeddy Resort and Marina in Egmont. Again, that’s weather-dependent.

Let us know about your event by email at arts@coastreporter.net.

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