From April 12 through 29, the Main Campus Art Gallery in CVPA is hosting an art exhibition comprised of over 60 works of art and other historical artifacts by women in the late nineteenth century.
According to the press release, “The exhibition focuses on a group of women artists who were instrumental in the establishment of one of the first American art clubs, the Providence Art Club, that accepted women as equal members, as active board members and as artistic colleagues.”
The women featured in this exhibition were not only artists, but suffragettes, art instructors, authors, and community leaders, and they traveled across the world to cultural hubs like London and Paris to display their work in salons and galleries.
The exhibition is student-organized and run by just fourteen students, as part of the “capstone experience” where students are charged with executing a professional museum quality exhibition and publication.
They coordinated every element of the display including the accent colors, which they selected based off a red cloth that was lying around the art department, according to Kimberly Thompson, a senior art history major.
“The whole color scheme started with that, we held a painting in front of it and thought it looked great, so we built the whole exhibition around it.”
The students were each assigned a late nineteenth century artist to research and prepare for the exhibition, which proved more difficult than some students realized.
Mariah Tarantino, senior art history major in CVPA, had to go to great lengths to find information on her artist Henrietta Belcher.
“Because these women weren’t written about in the paper, it was really hard to find information on them, I searched through the Library of Congress, newspaper articles, all these different venues and there was so little on her. That’s part of why we’re doing what we’re doing, a lot of these women have kind of been stricken from the record and that’s not fair to them and their contributions.”
Artistic work from obscure unknown artists during the Gilded Age can have more impact that one might think, according to senior graphic design major Jonathan Alumbaugh.
“The Gilded Age and the time we’re in right now, there are a lot of parallels that are both scary and interesting.”
The exhibition will be the 6th year in a row that Dr. Anna Dempsey and Allison J. Cywin organized a professional museum exhibit for upperclassmen students.
Cywin, art professor and director of the Visual Resource Center, commented on the importance of bringing this exhibit to light.
“In this time period, the men and the women were working together, the problem is 20th century history has ignored the women’s component of history, and concentrated on the men’s…These women were very active in their time it’s just the 21st century perspective to only think there were male artists working at the time.”
The Gallery opened on April 12, to a public reception in which the students who put together the exhibit were present to answer questions on the artists they studied, dressed elegantly to compliment the event.
The art was displayed on white and red walls, matching the red from the aforementioned cloth, with glass cases displaying the artifacts including journals, pictures, and even tobacco pipes from the era.
Students flooded into the exhibit shortly after 4 o’clock, some invited, some just passing through, as one student remarked, “I had no idea what was going on in here, I just saw a big fuss and wandered in. All this stuff is really cool, I’m glad I stopped by.”
Public exhibition hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information, the gallery can be reached at (508) 999-8550 or you may contact Dr. Dempsey
or Professor Cywin
Photo Courtesy: Sebastian Moronta Blanco