Wikipedians Unite at UofL Libraries

2017 is the second year that UofL’s Margaret M. Bridwell Art Library hosted community members to learn about how to edit Wikipedia.  Over a dozen people attended this event to combat gender disparity in the art world.

Artist Elizabeth Catlett wrote “No other field is closed to those who are not white and male as is the visual arts. After I decided to be an artist, the first thing I had to believe was that I, a black woman, could penetrate the art scene, and that, further, I could do so without sacrificing one iota of my blackness or my femaleness or my humanity.”1

Not only is the field of contemporary art difficult for women and non-binary people to break into, but the highly-masculine culture of Wikipedia is also a barrier to gender equality.  For example, articles about topics typically associated with females (Polly Pocket) are typically shorter and link to fewer references, while those associated with males (Nerf) are longer, and include more references.

In a 2011 survey, Wikimedia found that less than 13% of its contributors were female.

Art+Feminism is a global, grassroots campaign to end gender disparity within Wikipedia, not only in terms of the number or articles about women in the visual arts, but more importantly the number of female editors.  Attendees gathered to attend a training about how to edit Wikipedia articles before beginning to make edits of their own.  In Louisville, attendees included UofL students, professors, and local St. Francis School high school students.  New editors corrected facts, added citations to existing article, and ultimately created two new articles.

Articles improved include those about African-American artists Senga Nengudi and Elizabeth Catlett.  Both are sculptors, and known for their work on themes of race, gender, and class.

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  1. Farris, Phoebe. Women Artists of Color: A Bio-critical Sourcebook to 20th Century Artists in the Americas. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1999.


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