Bridwell Art Library employee Trish Blair introduces two female cartoonists for suffrage, and shares how their vision helped most women gain the right to vote.
For women coming of age at the turn of the 20th century there were not many roles outside the home for them to aspire to have. But War and other factors led to a surge in women participating in life outside the home; between 1880 and 1910, the number of women employed in the United States increased from 2.6 million to 7.8 million. Yet still most women could not vote in elections. Women began to rise up, and participate in organized protests, becoming known as suffragists. Merriam-Webster defines suffragist as “a person who advocates suffrage (the right to vote).” Suffragists believed in peaceful, constitutional campaign methods; after they failed to make significant progress, a new generation of activists emerged. These women became known as the suffragettes, and they were willing to take direct, militant action for the cause.
One way that women did make a mark in that time-period was in art. Two women made a name for themselves as cartoonists for suffrage, Nina Allender (1872?-1957) and Annie “Lou” Rogers (1879-1952). Women at this time did not have many role models as women had not yet become cartoonists, publicists, or public figures. These women were in a new generation, a transitional generation who with their middle-class, white, protestant upbringing were poised to change their circumstances and the country at large.
Annie “Lou” Rogers, one of the most prolific suffrage artists, was from a long-established American family in Maine. Her love of drawing took her to the Massachusetts Normal Art School, where she left after failing her first year exams. She “hated the plinths and the dead white casts and the stiff designs for wallpaper.” Rogers prided herself as a self-taught artist. In 1908 when publications rejected her, she began using the pseudonym Lou Rogers. Soon she became one of the country’s leading cartoonists with her work appearing in The Judge, Ladies Home Journal, and the New York Tribune. She also published books, and hosted a radio show in the 1930’s. And little did she know that working at The Judge would change how the world sees women, albeit many years later. While at The Judge, Rogers worked alongside Harry George Peter, who would occasionally create pieces when Rogers was overbooked. Peter was the original artist behind William Moulton Marston’s Wonder Woman. Both Marston and Peter were inspired by the suffrage movement in the creation of the character, and while it cannot be determined whether Peter was influenced directly by Rogers work, it still showed the hallmarks of suffrage artwork.
Nina Allender was born in Kansas after her family moved westward from Pennsylvania in the early years of western settlement. Years later, her family would return east to Washington DC. Allender attended the Corcoran School of Art, and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, one of the first art schools to provide professional opportunities for women. She joined the suffrage movement in 1913 when she met Alice Paul. She produced cartoons that showed a new spirit and interpretation of suffrage. She began working at The Suffragist, a publication of the National Women’s Party. She worked to change the image of suffragettes to stylish young women patiently waiting for their rights—an opposite portrayal by anti-suffrage cartoons that caricatured activists as frumpy and nagging. The Allender Girl was in stark contrast to other depictions of women at that time such as the Gibson Girl, the most popular women’s image of the time by cartoonist Charles Dana Gibson. As a more popular version of the New Woman (i.e. the Suffragette), the Gibson Girl both undermined and sanctioned women’s desires for progressive sociopolitical change.
Over the holiday break in 2019, the Bridwell Art Library painted one of its walls with chalkboard paint to give art students a space to decompress, explore their creativity, and have fun.
When Bridwell opened in January for the spring 2020 semester, employees put out chalk, wrote Welcome Back, and waited to see what happened. While the going was slow at first, eventually new images, words and drawings appeared on the wall and it seemed students were enjoying a new creative venue. Then a global pandemic hit and changed life as everyone knew it.
Another shattering event shook the Louisville community in the killing of Breonna Taylor. Local protests demanding justice prompted much discussion about the injustices that BIPOC (Black and Indigenous folks and People of Color) face living in the United States of America.
“We began to think about how the Art Library could become a part of the solution,” said employee Trish Blair.
With that in mind, Art Library staff went to “injustice square” and other places around downtown to take pictures of the art that people in the Louisville community were making on sidewalks, pieces of plywood, and on the sides of buildings.
“Once President Bendapudi announced the anti-racist agenda for the University of Louisville, the answer was clear: we must strive to become an anti-racist Art Library. We became inspired to use our chalkboard wall to address racism and any other injustices our community may face,” Blair said
The campaign, Chalk Artist-In-Residence for Social Justice, was born. Bridwell Art Library will present a rotating student’s artistic creation that explores social justice themes. The Library will provide the space and the chalk, and students will provide their voices and creativity.
“We are excited to provide a platform for artists to share their thoughts, visions, statements, and creativity to combat these inequalities. We are passionate about social justice and want to be the best library we can be. Libraries are for everyone,” said Courtney Baron, Art Library director.
All students who are interested in sharing their creativity and exploring social justice themes are encouraged to apply to become one of the chalk artists. Visit this link to access the Chalkboard Artist-in-Residence application: https://tinyurl.com/y6j58z5j. Apply by September 28, 2020 to be considered for the residency during the month of October.
Bridwell Art Library staff member Kathy Moore reflects on the legacy of renowned fiber artist Alma Lesch and fondly recalls taking her class during her sophomore year at UofL.
Alma Lesch’s connection to UofL is long and storied; during her first stint as a teacher, she joined the Louisville School of Art in 1961, and after that was absorbed by UofL, she became an Adjunct Faculty in the Hite Fine Arts Department (where she founded the Textiles program) until retiring in 1982. Alma’s second and more famous career took off while she was in her 40s, when she developed fabric collage portraits that were adorned with personal objects, which earned her accolades of Master Craftsman by the American Crafts Council (1974), and The Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in Arts (1987).
1973 “Southern Gothic,” 27.5″ x 39″, fabric collage portrait; shown in first World Craft Exhibition, Toronto, Canada 1974, currently on display at Bridwell Art Library, UofL.
Alma Lesch workshop “Vegetable Dyeing,” 2nd Southeast Region Workshop, Memphis Academy of Arts, June 9-11, 1967.
My small connection to Alma was in 1976, when I was a sophomore here at UofL. Although my major was Biology, my work-study job was at the Bridwell Art Library, which worked out well since I loved historic costumes and crafts. When I saw a class on Natural Dyes I jumped at it. Held in the 1900 brick building now known as the Honors Overseers House, and taught by Alma, I didn’t know she was already famous, both for her textile arts but as the author of the book we used in class: ‘Vegetable Dyeing: 151 Color Recipes’ (1970). Huge pots full of different plants, mosses, barks and insects boiled on table-top gas burners, while we hand-twisted hanks of yarns into skeins that took on the whole range of colors in the rainbow. Indigo (blue), cochineal bugs (scarlet), onion skins (orange) and pokeberries (pink) all were tried with varying results. It was magic! Alma was patient with our mistakes, but her total focus on the craft and no-nonsense work ethic imbued in all of us a respect for the old timey traditions that were relevant once again, and that sticks with me still.
“Vegetable Dyeing; 151 color recipes for dyeing yarns and fabrics with natural materials” by Alma Lesch. New York, Watson-Guptill Publications , ISBN: 9780823056002, Art Library Book Stacks TP 919 .L47.
Announcing the 2020 Virtual Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon hosted by the University of Louisville Libraries! Please join us as we participate in an international effort to close the gap on Wikipedia articles about underrepresented artists, with a special focus on local and regional women. You will create accounts on Wikipedia, learn how to edit articles, and use library resources to add citations and information to existing articles on your artists.
For more information, visit the 2020 Virtual Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon guide.
Why edit Wikipedia articles on women artists?
Wikimedia’s gender trouble is well-documented. While the reasons for the gender gap are up for debate, the practical effect of this disparity, however, is not. Content is skewed by the lack of female participation. This represents an alarming absence in an increasingly important repository of shared knowledge.
Who can participate?
UofL faculty, staff, and students of all gender identities and expressions are welcome and encouraged to participate.
How do we participate?
Join the first event on Thursday, May 14, 2-4 pm via Microsoft Teams. Join the second event on Thursday, May 21, 2-4 pm via Microsoft Teams. Please share these links with anyone who may be interested in participating in the virtual events. You can come and go as you choose.
What can we expect from a virtual event?
You will research and edit at your own pace. Your camera and microphone should be turned off unless you are speaking.
Is experience editing Wikipedia required?
No! For the editing-averse, we will provide training on Wikipedia basics and assistance throughout the edit-a-thon. If you don’t already have one, register for a Wikipedia account in advance.
Which Wikipedia articles are we editing?
Please bring your ideas for entries that need updating or creation. Work on a topic of your own or choose from the list of suggested articles. Select an artist you can research using online sources.
How do we get information about women artists?
This sounds like a lot of work!
You aren’t expected to write an essay on your chosen artist in a two-hour time period! Here are some ideas for quick and easy edits:
- Add citations and references
- Add images of the artist or example artworks
- Link to other articles on Wikipedia
- Edit text for clarity or copy edits
- Add bibliographical information for an artist
- Add a list of works for artists
- Look at other Wikipedia pages to see what sections they have that you can easily add for your artist
Do you have a question we haven’t answered here? Email email@example.com for more information!
Bridwell Art Library student employees Michelle Cao, Michael Chou, and Maree Grosser graduated from the University of Louisville this spring.
Michelle Cao graduated with a BA in public health. Here’s what Michelle has to say about her experience working at the Art Library:
“Moving to Louisville to attend UofL was a hard but best decision I have ever made. I have changed dramatically over the past 4 years and I believe for the better. From the friends I have made, to the jobs I have, the classes I have taken and much more, has positively shaped the person I am today and gave me the confidence to study abroad. It forced me to break out of my shell and really get to know myself and what I wanted to accomplish in life. By working at the art library, it taught and left me with experiences that made me feel like an art major just for a few hours a week but gave me a chance to explore my creativity and unlock new ones.”
Michael Chou graduated with a BFA in graphic design from the Hite Art Institute. After graduation, he will work for Zimmer Design, a full-service branding + creative studio, in Louisville. Here’s what Michael has to say about his experience working at the Art Library:
“The art library is my go-to place for art and design inspiration. And to work here means more exposure to interesting books to stir up my imagination, working with fun coworkers, and an opportunity to promote the wonderful environment unique to the UofL campus. I will really miss coming to the art library between classes to check out books or study.”
Here are a few samples of his works:
- “A Typographic Resource of Adobe & Google Fonts” is a 750+ paged type specimen book and resource designed from scratch—kind of like a catalog for fonts—to help designers locate free and quality fonts.
- “Lunar Zodiacs” is an illustrative design concept for the Chinese Lunar Zodiacs, featuring color combinations inspired by Chinese imperial textiles.
- “L&N Federal Credit Union: Rebrand” is a rebranding design project where Michael aimed to create a stronger visual identity for the organization while maintaining its significant legacy.
Maree Grosser graduated with a BFA in photography from the Hite Art Institute. Here’s what Maree has to say about her experience working at the Art Library:
“I have loved working at the Art Library for the last two and a half years! Working here has not only educated me further in art, but it has also taught me patience, strong work ethic, and the importance of a good printer. My favorite things to do while working are shifting books, looking through are incredible rare books section, and eating the delicious baked goods that Trish and Kathy bring in. I am grateful for getting to work with so many incredible people and will miss them the most when I graduate this semester. After I graduate, I am hoping to further my fine art career and education. My goal is to get my masters and help others extend their education in all things art. I am so thankful for getting my degree at UofL. This school has helped me find lifelong friends, and it has helped me find my passion for art.”
Here are a few samples of her works:
- Left: “To Remember You (Rosemary)” from the BFA Show.
- Top right: Maree pictured with her work at the BFA Show.
- Bottom right: Still life.
Michelle, Michael, and Maree – congratulations on your graduation from UofL and thank you for your hard work and dedication to the Art Library!
Here are more ways to celebrate the Class of 2020:
BFA Thesis Exhibition
This semester the spring 2020 BFA Thesis Exhibition is presented virtually. Visit the exhibition page to read the artist statements and view their work.
Graphic Design Portfolio Day
Every spring the Graphic Design BFA program hosts a Graphic Design Portfolio Day to showcase their final design portfolios and meet with local and regional professionals. This year the Portfolio Day was presented virtually. Visit the portfolio page to see the students’ work.
Interior Design Portfolio Day
Every spring our graduating BFA Interior Design students present their portfolios in a day-long event to celebrate with family and friends and to present their work to regional professionals. This year the Portfolio Day was presented online. Visit the portfolio page to see the students’ work.
In honor of Women’s History Month, “Louisville’s Fiber Legend: The Life and Work of Alma Lesch,” is on display at the University of Louisville’s Bridwell Art Library. The exhibit consists of artifacts from the Alma Lesch manuscript collection. The papers in this collection include correspondence with galleries, museums and schools concerning exhibitions and workshops; articles in newspapers and magazines about Alma Lesch; exhibition catalogs which include Lesch’s work; supporting materials for workshops Lesch conducted; publications and newsletters from Shakertown; articles, newspaper clippings and ephemera on various art-related topics; lists of students and other documents from her tenure at UofL.
Alma Wallace Lesch (1917-1999) lived her whole life in Kentucky, and although her career as a working artist started in her 40s, she attained a width and breadth of textile arts that few can attain.
Earning a B.S./Education from Murray State (1941), and a Masters of Education from the University of Louisville (1962), Alma had her first career as a 3rd grade teacher, then taught at Louisville School of Art (1961-1978) and became an Adjunct Faculty at University of Louisville (1975-1982); while at UofL she founded the Textiles Program. She also taught at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and Arrowmont School of Crafts. By 1974, she was named a Master Craftsman by the American Crafts Council, was awarded The Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in Arts in 1987.
Although Alma didn’t start her professional artistic career until the 1960s, her first quilt was started at age 5 and completed at age 12, while learning embroidery and sewing from her mother and grandmother.
Most noted for her innovative fabric portraits made by sewing vintage clothing while adding embellishments that helped describe the person, Alma also worked with quilts, embroidered art, macramé, jewelry made from beads or buttons, collaged textile sculptures, woodcuts, basketry, and glass mosaics.
Alma is also a leading authority on natural dyes, writing several books.
Her works are found in several museums including the Speed Art Museum, Owensboro Museum of Fine Art, Evansville Museum of Arts and Science, the American Crafts Museum of New York, the Arrowmont School in Gatlinburg, and the Flint (Mich.) Institute of Art, as well as the Bridwell Art Library/UofL.
The Louisville Courtier Journal called her the “Undisputed Grande Dame of KY textiles and a pioneer in the National Crafts Movement.” A historical marker is found in her honor in Shepherdsville, KY.
Wondering how to access art and architecture books while the Art Library is closed?
The University of Louisville has a trial subscription to the A&AePortal database which provides access to important art and art history scholarly books from some of the world’s finest publishers and museums such as Art Institute of Chicago, Princeton, and Yale University Press. This resource provides access to several titles owned by the Bridwell Art Library in an electronic format.
RedShelf is offering free electronic textbooks to students whose institutions are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The e-books can be borrowed until May 25. The following texts are a sample of what’s available:
Stokstad’s Art: A Brief History
Gardner’s Art Through the Ages
Practices of Looking
Culture of Design
Art History: The Basics
Ways of Seeing
VitalSource is also offering free electronic textbooks to students at the University of Louisville. Use your UofL email to sign up. The e-books can be borrowed until May 25. The following texts are a sample of what’s available:
Stokstad’s Art: A Brief History
Art of Mesopotamia
Greek Art and Archaeology
History of Modern Art
Janson’s History of Art
Roman Art & Archaeology
The Art of Writing About Art
What is “Islamic Art”?
Check out the Art Library Remote Resources and Services guide for information about remote access to library resources and services for art faculty and students. If you have any questions about accessing resources while off-campus, contact the Art Library at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We regret to announce our Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon event has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our top priority is the health and safety of our faculty, staff, students, and community. We will keep you informed once the event has been rescheduled.
The Bridwell Art Library is celebrating Banned Books Week with an artistic spin! Stop by the library to see our book display featuring challenged works of art, pick up coloring sheets and buttons, and share your experiences with censored artwork.
By Trish Blair
This is the story of a feminist dinner party and the brouhaha that surrounded it being seen, and the quest for its permanent home.
In the 1970s, the art world was dominated by old or dead men. Not seeing herself or other women in that myopic view, Judy Chicago set out to change that. Created from 1974-1979 she and her band of 400 volunteers created a massive cooperative art installation consisting of a 48-foot equilateral triangular table with 39 place settings of famous women. Eventually the piece would recognize 999 more women with the addition of a tile floor inscribed with those names in gold.
The first show opened and was a huge success at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art with over 90,000 people seeing it in its three-month run. However, subsequent viewings of the show were not in a museum again until 2002. This was due mostly to the reviews of the shows being described as “failed art”, “crass, and solemn and single-minded.” The vulvar imagery on the plates along with the ceramics and embroidery techniques involved were thought of as craft-work, vulgar, and radical.
In 1988 after a decade of touring The Dinner Party needed a permanent home. Judy Chicago, in 1990, attempted to donate it to the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) to anchor a proposed museum in a then empty library. From there the Washington D.C. political media machine began writing stories that claimed that The Dinner Party “had been banned from several art galleries around the country because it depicts women’s genitalia on plates” and that the “Board of Trustees will spend nearly $1.6 million to acquire and exhibit a piece of controversial art.” This brought the ire of Republican Congressmen who deemed it pornographic and cut 1.6 million dollars from the UDC budget. The entire cost of the renovation needed to house the piece. Judy couldn’t take the fighting so she pulled the gift offer.
Spring forward to 2002 and a wealthy museum donor bought, and gifted the entire piece to the Brooklyn Museum for permanent display. In 2007 the Dinner Party was opened to the public and has remained there ever since.
Another great thing that came from The Dinner Party was the response from women world-wide who wanted to do something to join the empowerment they felt after viewing it. Judy and her creative partner Miriam Shapiro decide that women could make triangular shaped quilt panels. The panels, which utilize a wide variety of materials and techniques, were made by different women or groups honoring and addressing individually selected women, women’s organizations, or women’s issues, to expand the number of women honored by Chicago’s The Dinner Party. In the end, 539 panels were made and eventually gifted to the University of Louisville’s Hite Institute from Judy Chicago.
For more details about the Dinner Party see:
The dinner party : a symbol of our heritage – Art Library Reserves NK4605 .C45
Beyond the flower : the autobiography of a feminist artist – Art Library Reserves N 6537 .C48 A2 1996
Embroidering our heritage : the dinner party needlework – Art Library Reserves NK9106 .C47