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.
- Farris, Phoebe. Women Artists of Color: A Bio-critical Sourcebook to 20th Century Artists in the Americas. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1999.
By Trish Blair
In a 2010 survey Wikipedia found that less than 13% of its contributors identify as female. While the reasons for the gender issues are debatable, the results represent marginalization in the form of a combined history. To combat this issue Art + Feminism Wikipedia edit-a-thon events were created. Every year, since 2014, there have been over 280 events across six continents to combat this problem by creating and updating thousands of Wikipedia articles about women in art.
Last March the Bridwell Art Library participated for the first time, in collaboration with the Hite Institute of Art to create a page for the International Honor Quilt which UofL is the permanent repository. This massive community based art project was on display in the spring of 2016 at the Hite Gallery and fit nicely into our first editing project. We had 13 people working diligently to collaboratively research and create a new Wikipedia page. It was hard work but we all felt a sense of accomplishment when our page was uploaded.
This year the Bridwell Art Library is proud to announce that our Art + Feminism Edit-a-Thon will be held Thursday March 23 from 4pm-7pm inside the library at Schneider Hall. We would like to invite anyone to join us who in interested in learning how to edit Wikipedia regardless of age, gender or human experience. If you are drawn to art or feminism come help us to research, create and celebrate great women artists.
To sign up please go to:
All you will need to bring is yourself, a laptop or tablet, and the desire to be a part of this incredible worldwide event.
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The Margaret M. Bridwell Art Library played a pivotal role in Elizabeth Douthitt Byrne’s life. Before she became its second director in 1970 – one of only four women to lead the 53-year-old library – she immersed herself in art, history, and librarianship, met her future husband in the slide library, and embarked upon an auspicious career.
This summer, Byrne (BA Art 1968) and her husband, Chuck (BS Design 1972), visited Art Library and toured the facilities, which have vastly changed. Not only has the library (named for its first director) been relocated, renovated and rebranded in the intervening years, but the collection has grown exponentially. When she left four decades ago, the library only contained 24,000 items; it now has more than 90,000.
Her connection to UofL began in the 1960s when she enrolled as an art student and served as a Hite scholar from 1964-1968. During this time she worked as a student assistant in the Library, and after earning her MLS from Indiana University, she was hired as the director of Bridwell Art Library.
In an email, Byrne reflected on her history in the art department and with Margaret Bridwell, the Art Library’s first director:
Both Chuck and I were students in the Art Department many years ago when it was in the old administration building, and it was THE place for everyone in the Department—art, design and art history students, as well as faculty—to meet and hang out. Even after the Library moved to the basement of the then ‘new’ University Library (editor’s note: now Schneider Hall), it continued to be the gathering place for everyone, and Margaret Bridwell made it a welcoming and wonderful place.
I resigned in July 1971 when Chuck and I married and I moved to Detroit, where he was working, to join him. Chuck worked as a graphic designer and taught design for many years. I was an art/architecture/design librarian for 42 years. Our experiences with Mrs. Bridwell, the Art Department and the Art Library shaped our careers.
Byrne’s career included librarian positions at Detroit Public Library, the University of Cincinnati, and the San Diego Public Library. She concluded her distinguished career as the head of the University of California at Berkeley Environmental Design Library, a role she held for 30 years until her retirement in 2011.
During Byrne’s short tenure at the Bridwell Art Library, she made a significant impact. In the late 1960s, much of the Art Library’s collections had been developed through personal gifts from faculty or alumni. According to her annual report to the University Libraries’ head in 1970, Elizabeth initiated an intentional book purchasing plan in support of the expanding art department curriculum. In particular, she purchased books on American art, architectural history, and photography. The library is still known for its strengths in these areas today.
As the couple completed their recent tour of the Bridwell Library, they stumbled into an old friend and colleague, Dr. Dario Covi, retired Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts with UofL’s College of Arts and Sciences, who had stopped in for his daily visit (in his 90s, he still maintains office hours on campus). The couple had corresponded with Dr. Covi over the past 50 years but they hadn’t seen each other since they left Louisville. Long-time friends and colleagues were reunited in a pivotal locale that has held a special place in their hearts – the Margaret M. Bridwell Art Library.
Talented UofL graphic design student creates sense of place for Bridwell Art Library.
Bridwell Art Library has discovered an inventive way to display its books: a colorful, edgy new bookshelf design showing patrons what they’ll find in the stacks – art and more art.
The shelving graphics, called endcaps, highlight call numbers for Bridwell’s collection, displayed over multilayered, fragmented images from within the library’s art books. Not only is the design of high quality, rivaling that of any professional graphic firm’s work, it was surprisingly local, the product of talented UofL graphic design sophomore Jenna White.
Bridwell Director Sarah Carter was first introduced to White in Fall 2015, when UofL Graphic Design faculty member and Power Creative designer-in-residence Leslie Friesen approached Carter with the idea of allowing Friesen’s graphic design class to use the library as a blank canvas of sorts, for environmental graphics within the space. Carter would be under no obligation to implement a design, but if one emerged, the library had the option to see the project to completion. The class gave students real-world experience, but also allowed them to explore the limits of their creativity without feeling too constrained by the client-artist relationship.
Eager to upgrade the library’s interior, and loathe to turn down an opportunity to work with student designers, Carter agreed.
“I was happy to offer our space as their laboratory,” said Carter. “I knew we really needed something to display the call numbers at the end of the stacks shelves, something functional but with aesthetic parameters. So I agreed.”
The students first met with Carter to hash out details and learn about the library’s collection, color palette, furniture, lighting and environment. They then immersed themselves in the library’s interior space for several weeks, poring over stacks of art books, taking notes and pictures and “learning about us,” said Carter. After a design charrette where Carter offered a critique of students’ work, they refined their designs.
“It was really gratifying to see, as a client, how they listened and met my needs,” Carter said. “The trickiest part of the design was that the call numbers were variable, ranging from short to long, depending on how the books are catalogued, so the design had to be flexible for future updates and additions to the collection. Many of the students had innovative ideas, but they were not flexible or modifiable.”
Two designs emerged quickly as possibilities, though “one was a clear winner after the modification,” said Carter. “It was a very active design that accomplished the functional goals we had, enhanced wayfinding, but was aesthetically pleasing and visually exciting ̶ and most of all, it was flexible.”
“I felt so honored to have my design selected,” said White, a UPS-sponsored sophomore and graphic design intern with the Alumni Association. “It was just a class project; we had no idea it would be implemented, but when it was, it was such a great opportunity.”
“I feel so lucky, even though it was a lot of work,” she continued. “The class project took a semester, and then I worked with Sarah for the entire summer, pulling images from the books on the shelves. I spent a lot of time in the library and really got to know the place very well. The creative process was a bit faster than that. I knew how important it was to get it right for the librarians, because they have to look at these things all day. They had to like it.”
“This is the first time something of my own has been put out into the world. And I just thought, this is going to work,” White said. “I worked with this group of images and made a collage, played with filters and saturation until I found something that I thought looked great and showed it to Sarah and we worked on it.”
Finding the balance between aesthetically appealing graphic design and practicality was the main challenge, she said. “I was good at coming up with the creative side of things, but I had to work with Sarah quite a bit to make sure it fulfilled all the needs she had, like wayfinding. That was all new to me and more of a challenge.”
Carter says the process of working with a designer as a client helped her understand the patrons she serves much better. “It was really important to me, because I need to learn what they need so I can help them do their research,” she said.
“My favorite part about this whole process was working with Jenna and learning about the design process from a client perspective,” Carter continued. “As an art librarian, I am always trying to understand the way designers think so that I can help them in their research. It was extremely illuminating to hear her questions and watch her work to achieve the library’s goals. This process has helped me do my job better.
“I really wanted to invigorate the space and the endcaps really have done that. They help visitors conceptualize what we have on the shelves, and who we are.
“Our books are so much about visual information, but you can’t tell without opening them sometimes. They are like geodes, plain on the outside but sparkling inside. The primary content of our library is visual material.”
“I worked very hard to give Sarah exactly what she wanted,” Jenna said. “I really liked it, the way it evolved.”
Carter does, too: “It has become our identity,” she said.
White entered UofL as an art major and was involved in studio art, eager to grow as a painter. “But after I took my first graphic design course, I thought, ‘this is it.’ I just felt pure enjoyment and I was so successful, and then all these opportunities came my way.”
Carter was so impressed with White that she hired her as a student assistant for the library after the project was completed. White is also a graphic design intern with the Alumni Association. But beyond those two commitments and her full class load, White works the night shift at UPS from 6 p.m.-8 a.m. three days a week.
Even though she stays busy, she has welcomed new requests for design work. “I try to say yes as often as possible,” she said.
“I love UofL,” she continued. “It’s a wonderful place. I feel like I’m leaving a mark.”
Photography by Trish Blair.
By Trish Blair.
Back in the days before handheld technology, art history students used to create their own flashcards using a photocopier and glue stick. Now ARTstor has created a mobile app that does all that work for you!
ARTstor is a more convenient way to quiz yourself on images as you study for finals. Their mobile app has been released for the public on Android. For Apple users, there is no app to download; just go to http://mobile.artstor.org from your mobile device. Watch a short video about ARTstor Mobile here.
ARTstor is a digital library of over over 2,000,000 fully searchable images. Images can be searched by keyword, date range, geography and classification. Students can also create image groups for varying projects and interests. Want a folder of all 111 images from Keith Haring? You can have it. Need to study Italian cathedrals? Create a list based upon the date range and location in Italy.
The prime feature of the mobile app is Flashcard View. This allows students to view images without text – until you touch the image, thus revealing the information to double-check your knowledge. Now students can be sitting on a bus, eating lunch or enjoying a sunny day at the park and still study using their mobile phones.
Registration is required to use ARTstor. The good news is that UofL students get access to ARTstor thanks to the University Libraries. Set up an account with a non-mobile device, download the app, and get to searching. This can be done at any machine on campus or at home with a connection via the proxy server.
A global phenomenon, Art+Feminism, arrived in Louisville on Saturday, March 19th when Bridwell Art Library and the Hite Art Institute co-hosted a satellite Wikipedia event. Over the course of an afternoon, nine Wikipedians collaborated to write a new article about the International Honor Quilt (IHQ), an important community-based art project inspired by Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party artwork. Although the quilt has been acknowledged as a precursor to the well-known NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, no Wikipedia article had been created for the IHQ.
Co-organizers Trish Blair and Sarah Carter ran the event to teach community members how to create Wikipedia accounts, understand the anatomy of a wiki page, establish notability, and learn to code using wiki mark-up. One experienced Wikipedian drove in from Lexington to attend the event and provide her support. A grad student, community artist, UofL alumna, and regional quilter made up the rest of the work group.
Writing the article involved locating published sources documenting the quilt. This is where the Art Library’s collection of books and periodicals came into play. Wikipedians were able to locate books and articles in the library that mention the quilt’s origin and importance within Judy Chicago’s career. By the end of the day, the International Honor Quilt article was live on Wikipedia.
The Art+Feminism movement is in its third year, having held its inaugural edit-a-thon at the Museum of Modern Art in 2014. According to an article published last year, the movement’s goal is to simultaneously “close the gender gap in both content and participation in Wikipedia.” Louisville joined over 125 locations across Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, North and South America in holding a satellite event.