Women As Makers

Women’s contributions to society are often undervalued. Women represented more than sixty percent of students in art programs in 2006 and fifty-one percent of professional visual artists.[i] However, galleries, museums, universities, canonical art history texts, and other institutions continue to under-represent and under-compensate women. Drawing from the Gallery of Art’s permanent collection and the UNI Museum collection, this show makes visible the many ways in which women shape and benefit society through their art and labor. On display are works made by women and showing women as makers. From needlework to printmaking, ceramics to photography, women created and continue to create objects and define spaces that enrich cultural life. Many of the works here were created by little-known women artists. Some of them show women contributing to social and domestic life; other pieces draw attention to the vexed representation of women in society.

“Women as Makers” corresponds with a collaborative writing and editing initiative at UNI’s Rod Library to include more women artists on Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia. Led by Fine and Performing Arts librarian Angela Pratesi, students in the class “Creating Wikipedia for the Arts” will host an edit-a-thon on March 24, 2018. Students in my 19th Century Art History class are researching women artists and their art and will contribute directly to this online public resource. The editorial project writ large was first initiated by a group of artists and art historians who noted that fewer than ten percent of Wikipedia contributors identify as women and that women artists and their work continue to be unknown and undocumented. For more on feminist edit-a-thons, see: http://www.artandfeminism.org/ 


Dr. Elizabeth Sutton

Please visit UNI Gallery of Art for more information about the exhibition. https://www.uni.edu/art/gallery.html

[i] Maura Reilly, “Taking the Measure of Sexism: Facts, Figures, and Fixes,” Art News June (2015)


Copies of this article are available in the gallery. See also the National Museum of Women in the Arts https://nmwa.org/advocate/get-facts