Monday, March 4, 2013

"Anonymous Was a Woman"

by Carol A.

Alice Cameron Cramer Cline
(processed with Kim Klassen texture - Mary from The  Downton Collection)

Do you ever think about who's shoulders you stand upon? Pictured here is my grandmother, Alice Cramer Cline, who went to art school in New York City in the early 1900's. She sends me inspiration from her frame above my desk. I wish she could speak to me Harry Potter style. I'd like to ask her how many women were in her class, what it was like to commute through the city alone, what her family thought of her daring dreams. I work with a client in her 90's, who is a life long contributor and supporter of The Pen and Brush Gallery in Manhattan, a gallery started 119 years ago with the unique mission of supporting women in the arts.

It's not easy to write about women in the arts because for most of history women were not considered capable of creating great art. They could inspire it and model for it, but to create it was socially unacceptable. The title of this post comes from an article from The National Museum of Women in The Arts. . It's premise is that it was more acceptable for artwork to be submitted anonymously than to publicize that it was done by a woman. During the Renaissance, it was generally believed that women were "incapable of genius on moral grounds." And even when women were allowed to participate, their subjects - still lifes, landscapes, mother and child - were considered of less significance than the historical or religious themes of male artists. Women were criticized for their female subjects, yet not allowed to have exposure to anything else. If you are interested in reading more on this topic, here's a link to a fascinating article I recently found.

Some of the young people I know dislike thinking of themselves as feminists. I get it. They want to be perceived without regard to their gender. But at what point does simply living it replace considering the past? Hasn't "living it" been our goal after all? Yet from my life's perspective, it was only a few years ago that women could not own a house, get a loan, or walk into a bar. When Jane Curtin was blazing a path and making a good living on Saturday Night Live, she had to get a credit card in her father's name, because women did not qualify for credit on their own.

I will be visiting The National Museum of Women in The Arts and The Pen and Brush in the near future - just to say thank you.

Cartoon by Lee Lorenz
from The New Yorker, Jan. 21, 1980


heyjudephotography said...

Carol, a wonderful post, wonderfully done. I've pondered a post on women in the arts - but wasn't sure how I'd do it justice in a short post. You nailed it. Thank you for the links. I am definitely going to visit the National Museum of Women in the Arts the next time I'm in DC. Thank you for sharing this today.

Dotti said...

Such an important post, Carol. It's all too easy to forget the women who led the way before us so that we can enjoy being ourselves and doing our things.

Kim Stevens said...

What a great post Carol, and not only have I thought about who's shoulders I stand upon but I wish I could talk to my great + grandmothers. Thank you for sharing this!

terriporter said...

It sounds like you come by your artistic side naturally. I have never heard of the Pen & Brush gallery but it sounds like a fascinating place and well worth the visit. I'm sure we are all so grateful to those women who paved the way for us to be able to express ourselves in our own way. Thanks for sharing this great information!

Carol said...

I actually started this post to talk about and show my father's cameras, but as I started thinking about his heritage from his mother, this came forward. I think she was talking to me - and you'll have to hear about her son another time!

kelly said...

this is an amazing story carol. i think about all the strong women in my own life - my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother. they inspire be to be strong. thank you so much for sharing this! said...

A very inspiring post it really wasn't that long ago that we couldn't vote, go to university and manage our own money.... I give thanks to our amazing sisters....

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