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.
During last fall’s 50th Anniversary celebration for 1968-69 UofL graduates, Dr. Donald Shoemaker and Cathy Shoemaker visited the Belknap campus for the first time in almost as many years.
“It was amazing, completely different,” said Don. “We couldn’t believe how things have changed.”
Don admits that over the years he had been immersed in his medical practice as an anesthesiologist at Baptist Health in Louisville and hadn’t kept up with the growing campus. “I went to med school in 1968 and hadn’t seen it since and the whole time the campus was growing. My goodness. The way it expanded was amazing.”
UofL Archivist and Historian Tom Owen led the couple on a lengthy tour of the campus, fielding questions about buildings and settings both familiar and unfamiliar. Owen is well-known for leading Belknap History Walking Tours throughout the year where he plays raconteur and tour guide for groups of faculty, staff, students and Louisville residents.
“He took us out to the new music school, where it was all older houses when I was in school,” said Donald, referring to the building built in 1980 which now contains the School of Music, Comstock Hall and Music Library. “There are three old buildings nearby and I used to take Poli-Sci, English and other classes there.” Facing north, “there was a stone wall, a parking lot and a pizza place” that once lined the now long-gone Shipp Street.
“On the south side of the campus I remember the Purina silos that they tore down. They moved the observatory and other buildings, just pushed them back.”
Cathy, who earned a master’s degree in social work, said that back in the day, “Kent School was in a large yellow brick house near the old Confederate statue. I took a statistics course in the garage.”
The couple were also impressed with the Foucault pendulum clock installed on the ground floor of Grawemeyer Hall in 1978. “The ground level, where you now see the pendulum, was the finance office where we would drop off our tuition checks.”
Don remembers the main library in Schneider Hall – now the site of Fine Arts and the Bridwell Art Library – to study between classes and before fraternity events. He remembers the long fountain on the building’s east side was occasionally visited by soap bubbles as pranking students poured in laundry detergent.
“As a science major, I had all my classes in one building, the natural sciences building by Eastern Parkway. Now all the sciences have their own buildings. I’d just wait in the Natural Sciences library before classes.
“I’d be walking my legs off now, but probably I’d be in better shape.”
Since graduating from UofL, the couple has been busy with careers and raising a family of three daughters. Their eldest daughter also has strong UofL ties: Amy Shoemaker is the Associate Athletic Director for Administration and Deputy University Counsel. Lisa Borden, their middle daughter is a UofL medical school graduate and pediatrician in Middletown, and youngest Kristin Shoemaker is a commercial airline pilot, living in Charlotte North Carolina.
Cathy and Don were born and raised in Louisville and graduated in 1964 from local high schools, Cathy from Presentation Academy and Don from Seneca High School. Don’s fellow Seneca High School alum was Wes Unseld, the former UofL Cardinal basketball star who played for the Baltimore Bullets and was named NBA Most Valuable Player among other accolades. Unseld passed away on June 2, 2020.
“He helped our team win the Kentucky HS championship in our junior and senior years. We both went on to UofL; I went into med school and he went to Baltimore and had an NBA hall of fame basketball career.”
“He was a good, good guy. It was just a shock that he passed away. I saw him six years ago at the 50th HS reunion. We weren’t close personal friends, but we all rooted for him and I was proud of his talent.”
Cathy earned a master of science in social work from the Kent school. “First I went to Spaulding University and then I was a student at Kent School but I owed the state two years of work because they paid for my tuition,” she said. “I worked in Frankfort, teaching social workers how to lead therapy groups for families with dependent children.” She then worked as a clinical social worker for River Region (later Centerstone), and then after starting her family, she worked part-time for Seven County Services.
After Don earned a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Sciences, he entered the UofL Medical School and completed his residency at UofL Hospital. He served in the Air Force for two years in Omaha, Nebraska and then moved back to Louisville.
Cathy tells the story of how the couple met in 1970 at the old Louisville General Hospital – in the Psych ward, she says, laughing – while both were on rotation there. Cathy was working on her social work degree and Don was a medical student on rotation.
After they married, Cathy began working for the state of Kentucky, traveling all over the state to conduct trainings. At the same time, Don’s residency meant he worked overnight every third day.
“We used to joke that our marriage will last much longer than anyone else’s because we just hadn’t seen each other as much,” said Cathy.
In his long career – he retired in 2013 – Don has seen many changes in healthcare and in the world of anesthesia.
“Back in 1977, it was mostly MDs providing anesthesia, but now we need CRNAs, nurse anesthetists to staff all the areas where anesthesia is needed. Back in 1977, we had six ORs. Now there are close to 30, and they need anesthesia services in the endoscopy suites and delivery rooms, radiology, etc. Even in outpatient centers.”
“But during this COVID 19 crisis, I think people have changed the way they view anesthesiologists,” he continued. “They are heroes. They have to put people on ventilators, intubate them and keep them alive, keep their airways open as they battle the virus.”
Change has not only struck the healthcare profession, but also higher education and in particular, the University over the past 14 years of daughter Amy’s tenure. But though UofL had experienced some challenging times, Cathy and Don both expressed their enthusiasm for President Neeli Bendapudi and Athletic Director Vince Tyra.
“We have been very impressed with Neeli as a leader,” said Cathy. “She has been a stabilizing force and done a great job of turning things around.”
“We can’t say enough about her leadership. She’s personable, smart, and so energetic.”
Bringing Gender Equity to Wikipedia: Bridwell Art Library Hosts 2020 Louisville Wiki Edit-a-Thon RemotelyPosted: July 9, 2020
Fighting a longstanding gender imbalance on Wikipedia, UofL’s Bridwell Art Library recently hosted the Louisville Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, an event it has staged several times since 2014 to add and improve articles on lesser known female artists.
This year’s event welcomed UofL students, faculty and staff of all gender expressions to edit the site’s articles in a collaborative online setting. Articles on mostly local women artists were improved and edited, including Julie Chen, Ann Stewart Anderson, Adele Brandeis, Marcia Shallcross Hite, Nancy Rexroth, Enid Yandell, and Martha Holmes. Other improvements focused on the local company Hadley Pottery and popular Mexican artist Frida Kahlo
Originally scheduled to be held at the Speed Museum, this year’s event was moved to a remote setting due to COVID-19, and the Art Library plans to host next year’s event at the museum to increase visibility and boost attendance. A small group comprised of UofL staff and faculty met on Teams for two days during two-hour sessions.
“Hosting an event whose aim is to inspire comradery and passion in a remote setting was challenging, but worth it,” said Art Library Director Courtney Baron.
“We can already see the impact our local event has on improving the coverage of women artists on Wikipedia. Perhaps this year the most valuable accomplishment was the transition from an in-person to a virtual event. We were able to accomplish a lot remotely.”
Prior to the Edit-a-thon, Baron and her colleagues, Collections Coordinator Trish Blair and Circulation and Reserves Manager Kathy Moore, created a research guide, with a list of articles that need to be improved.
“There is still a lot of work to do to mend the gender gap on Wikipedia, especially in regards to arts content and editorial representation,” Baron continued. “More women need to be contributing to Wikipedia because their participation has a huge impact on the content.”
While conducting research to create the guide, Baron said “we discovered so many Kentucky women artists who are not featured at all on Wikipedia. This means they are largely unknown outside of our region.”
“Our next step is to create stub articles for these artists that can be expanded at future edit-a-thon events.”
One of the world’s most-visited websites, Wikipedia is maintained and edited by mostly male volunteers, resulting in well-known gender bias. In 2014, the feminist nonprofit Art+Feminism founded a worldwide Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon to encourage women to write new articles and edit existing pages on underrepresented artists.
The Art Library’s past Edit-a-thons have been well attended, open to UofL students, faculty, staff and members of the public of all gender identities and expressions. Participants have created personal accounts on Wikipedia and learned how to edit articles, using library resources to add citations and information to Wikipedia articles on local and regional artists.
“During this year’s event, 12 articles were edited with a total of 70 edits; over 4,200 words and 31 references were added, and two images were uploaded to Wikimedia Commons,” said Baron. “However small, these changes have had a significant impact. In just a few weeks, the articles have been viewed over 159,000 times by Wikipedia readers around the world.”
“We plan to host our 2021 event at the Speed Art Museum and will focus on Kentucky women artists with a focus on community outreach. We hope the location at the Speed means we can reach a broader audience than we would have if we held the event on campus. This is one of the many efforts we are making to increase our collaboration and strengthen our partnership with the Speed Art Museum. The close proximity to the museum – a 5 min walk – in which we can see and interact with works from the Kentucky women artists we are researching and writing about on Wikipedia, is so valuable.”
Exploring digital content from the University of Louisville just got easier. The new portal provides an easy way to access faculty scholarship, theses and dissertations, UofL and student-produced publications, as well as archival photographs and newspapers, digitized interviews, and more.
The portal includes search boxes that make it simple to dive right in and explore. Visit it at https://library.louisville.edu/digital-content.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.