American women artists, especially those working before 1945, had to negotiate societal expectations that largely restricted women to the domestic sphere with their drive to be recognized as professionals. These artists often faced difficult choices, sacrificing in their personal lives or professional options. Regardless, most fell into obscurity with their death, no matter the successes they achieved while living.
I am joining a handful of other art historians who want to bring these careers back into the dialogue about American art. The “Finding Her Way” series focuses on one painting by each of seven artists, who collectively paint a picture of American attitudes and gradually changing mores. My hope is to draw renewed attention to these talented artists and heighten awareness about the challenges that women artists continue to face.
Special thanks to Art Times Journal for supporting this vision and publishing the series of essays.
Lilly Martin Spencer and War Spirit at Home, 1866
Isabel Bishop’s New Vision: Social Mobility Beyond the Separate Spheres
Art Times Journal, Winter 2015