Expansions: Women Artists in the Collections 

The art world is dominated by men and always has been. Although the Kennedy Museum of Art has many pieces by female artists, our collection predominantly consists of works created by men. We, and museums around the world, are trying to address that. 

The KMA Picks project turned exhibition titled “Representation of Women in Art: Selections from the Kennedy Museum of Art ” focuses on how women are represented by both male and female artists. For our recent exhibition “Gesture of the Still Image” the museum purchased two photos from female-identifying artists after realizing the majority of the pieces set to be in the show were produced by men. The act of supporting these artists in an attempt to diversify our collection and widen female representation is a large step in the right direction.

The selected pieces within this KMA Picks Project takes a closer look at a selection of women artists already within our collections. Each of these women are creating art with different media but create works that deal with texture and movement in their own ways. Focusing on pieces that expand on traditional art making techniques such as print making, ceramics and oil painting, and expanding on our knowledge of women within the art world is the goal of this exhibition.

Emily Van Meter
Education Outreach Assistant, BFA Studio Art, BA Art History

Anne Clark Culbert (1940-2007)
Apres Nous Le Déluge

Anne Clark Culbert was a sculptor and a writer. She was born in New York and earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of Michigan, then studied art at the graduate level at Ohio University. The majority of her pieces is figurative and thematic, and is often based in her own social commentary on personal experiences within Appalachia and beyond. Her perspective can both be critical and humorous. We have a large collection of Culbert’s work within our collection because she was from the Athens area.

Pat Adams (b. 1928)
Seraph’s Disk
Planographic Print

Pat Adams was raised in California, and obtained her BFA from UC Berkeley in 1949. Her work was largely inspired by her international travel and many summer programs around the United States. In the mid-20th Century, Adams made travels to Italy and France, and then went on to Egypt, Iran, Turkey, and the rest of Europe. These experiences are impacted her art practice significantly. Not only a practicing artist, Adams was also a professor at Yale, Rhode Island School of Design, and many other art institutions.

Nancy Graves (1939-1995)

Nancy Graves was a multimedia artist who specialized in sculpture, painting, printmaking, and drawing. Her art utilized scientific sources, such as maps and diagrams, and reinterprets them into artworks using their complex visual information. Graves was a prominent woman artist in the post-Minimalist and Pop art movements. Graves is the first woman to have ever earned a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1969. Her pieces addressed philosophical, aesthetic, and technological issues that were relevant in the digital age.

Lillie Thomas Taylor (b. 1931)
In the Path of the Four Seasons
Natural (I dyed), vegetal-dyed and aniline-dyed handspun wool 2003

Lillie Taylor is a contemporary Navajo weaver. The tradition of weaving within the Navajo culture is usually passed down from mother to daughter and Taylor learned this from her mother. The practice of weaving was passed down from Taylor’s mother, as the tradition usually goes in familial lineage. Both of her daughters are weavers. The traditionally female practice of weaving is not just an art form passed from generation to generation but also a lifestyle. Oftentimes, these women raise the sheep, harvest the wool, spin it into yarn, and dye it to create these vibrant colors. This weaving is a Teec Nos Pos style weaving, with the defining quality being a border which features a repeating pattern. Traders traditionally did not value the identity of the weavers but Taylor signed this piece “LTT” as a way to signify that it is her work. Navajo families often develop their own particular pattern. The one featured here is called “honored toad”.

Samia Halaby (b.1936)
Planographic Print

Samia Halaby is a Palestinian artist, and is recognized as a pioneer of contemporary abstraction. Her work often focuses on technological and social advancements made during the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. This concept has led her to printmaking, kinetic art, and free-from-the- stretcher painting. Her goal is to represent reality through form.

Ruth Weisberg (b. 1942)
Parting the Waters
Planographic Print

Ruth Weisberg’s art are primarily in the media of painting, drawing, printmaking, and large-scale installation. Weisberg was born in Chicago and earned both her BFA and MFA at the University of Michigan. She was formerly the Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California, and has worked out of Los Angeles since 1969. Weisberg’s pieces typically deals with cycles of life and generational growth. Her work is also affected by her contemplation on personal and non personal memory. Weisberg asserts that drawing is the underpinning of everything she creates.

Colleen Browning (1918-2003)
Girl in White
Oil Painting

Colleen Browning grew up in Ireland and moved to the United States in 1949. She studied at the London Slade School of Art where she trained in traditional painting techniques. She quickly became a leader in the Modern and Postmodern art movement. Browning’s interest in not only color, form, or texture but how they all come together as one to create an image is something that she has often been praised for. Her work marries texture and form in order to create complex compositions that challenge the viewer’s conceptions.

Isabel Bishop (1902-1988)
Figures at a Water Fountain Drawing

Isabel Bishop was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved to New York City in 1918 where she studied illustration and painting. She often focused on the human subject within her pieces, and was a member of the Fourteenth Street School of Social Realist Painters. This group focused on Union Square in New York, and depicted the actions of day to day life within the square. She was both a pioneer in the art world, and was the only female full-time instructor at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture for a number of years.

Elizabeth Murray (1940-2007)
Snake Cup
1983 – 1984

Elizabeth Murray was an abstract postmodern artist who derived much of her style from cubism, minimalism, and surrealism. In her early career, Murray created sculptures that related to her longtime love of cartooning. She then began to use complex shapes that were loosely informed on mathematical ideas. Work created at the same time as this piece tended to embody this type of graffiti style. Starting in the 1960s, her pieces featured darker colors and abstracted characters. As her practice matured, she still featured abstract characters but in combination with bright colors and embraced pop art motifs. Murray can be considered one of the most important abstract artists of her time due to her ability to rejuvenate old art forms into new and creative pieces.