Villanova, Pa. – For the longest time, artist Judith Schwab had it in the back of her mind to do a feminist art exhibit about “20th century women and the obstacles they had to overcome.” As the 1990s approached their close, her sense of urgency grew. “The millennium's coming; if not now, when?” she asked herself.
Then came the research and the realization that a solo exhibit would take too long to accomplish. So Schwab asked seven “tremendously creative and inspiring artists” she knew to collaborate with her. Ten years in the making, the tour de force traveling art exhibit conceived by Schwab to honor celebrated and unsung women and the struggle toward gender equality, hit the road.
That road leads next to Villanova. Schwab's collaborative, multi-media exhibit, “Women Collared for Work: Anecdotal Art”, opens Jan. 10 in the Villanova University Art Gallery. A free public reception to meet the artists will take place on Friday, Jan. 14, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the Art Gallery, which is located in the Connelly Center on the Villanova campus. Comprising assemblages, photographs stitched on painted canvas, soft sculpture, cast paper with wood, calligraphic ink images, woven reed sculptures, and acrylic medium on hat boxes, the show continues to Feb. 17.
“This forceful exhibit is a needed jolt for our young people, especially those who will be moving to the forefront in our nation's journey,” notes Rev. Richard G. Cannuli,O.S.A., director of Villanova's Art Gallery and Theatre Department. “It helps us to see both how far gender equality has progressed in society, at home, and in the work place, and of the unfinished work that remains.”
It was men's workplace collars that first gave Schwab the idea to research the 'collared' theme: “White collar, blue collar, no collar; to me, they convey hierarchy. For women, the collar becomes a metaphor for women's issues; an object of adornment, a means of identification as in uniform or a symbol of control.”
Participating “Women Collared for Work” artists are:
Allman's calligraphic paintings honor the unsung Japanese-American women who without trial were forcibly taken from their homes by the U.S. Government during World War II and interred in guarded military compounds. A painter, sculptor and printmaker for more than 55 years, Allman is a distinguished alumni of The Moore College of Art and Design and is listed in Who's Who in American Art and Who's Who in America. Her work is held in museums and private collections worldwide.
A leader in international art exchanges for peace and environmental stewardship, Davidson brings to the exhibit life-sized figurative weavings in reed of early 20th century suffragettes jailed for their non-violent campaign to gain the right to vote for American women. Her life-sized Native American figure speaks to Native children forcibly removed from family and culture to attend distant government boarding schools, and to one child who successfully escaped and returned home.
Mixed media monoprint collages by artist/professor Maria Keane pay tribute to the professional women illustrators of the Howard Pyle School, such as Olive Rush, Elenore Abbott, and Anna Whelan Betts and Ethel Franklin Betts, whose work lit up the Golden Age of American Illustration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and expanded career opportunities for women in art. Keane has been adjunct professor of fine arts at Wilmington (Del.) University since 1986.
Working with cast paper over wood, Rosemary Lane presents three-dimensional human-form relief pieces honoring artists who inspired her and a new generation of artists in the 1980s. Her role models include leading American feminist artist Judy Chicago and abstract expressionist Louise Nevelson, a pioneer of environmental sculpture. A retired University of Delaware art professor, Lane's work has been exhibited in over 150 national invitational and juried shows.
Schwab offers 1940s' images hearkening to “Rosie the Riveter”, wartime food rationing, and the bib collar, and 1950s' art, fashion (e.g., the Peter Pan collar), and the deepening civil rights struggle. She has been a leader in international art exchange for the promotion of peace. In 2009 Schwab was awarded a Broward Cultural Council Award from the Broward County Board of County Commissioners, Florida, and a Delaware Division of the Arts Emerging Artist Fellowship in 1986-'87, and an Established Artist Fellowship 1993-'94.
Wilma B. Siegel, MD
The costumed soft sculptures created by Siegel represent “Flower Children Grown Up”, women who have made significant contributions to their communities. An award-winning artist, Siegel's psychological portraits of AIDS victims and survivors, the changing faces of AIDS, breast cancer survivors, the homeless, and the elderly have gained national recognition. A distinguished oncologist, she was a pioneer in the hospice movement, opening one of the first hospices to accept AIDS patients.
Stein presents a rich visual appreciation of the accomplishments of Frances Perkins, America's first woman Cabinet member. Each of Stein's period items and drawings stands as a symbol of Perkins and the ground-breaking labor laws and other social advances she championed as Franklin D. Roosevelt's Secretary of Labor. A sculptor, Stein's work is archived in the National Museum of Women in the Arts and exhibited in the Corcoran Gallery and the Art Museum of the Americas.
Incorporating photographs, metal, and wood stitched to an acrylic background, the five mixed media paintings by Stelling pay tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt and Georgia O'Keeffe, including some pithy quotes by them. Stelling has won fellowships and grants from the University of Delaware, the Delaware Division of the Arts and the MacDowell Colony, the oldest artists' colony in the United States. She is founder of SYNE, a group of artists who have exhibited in Europe and Scandinavia.
The Villanova University Art Gallery is open weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm. For weekend and extended hours, and other information, telephone the Art Gallery at (610) 519-4612. Selected works for the Women Collared for Work exhibit may be previewed on the gallery’s website at www.artgallery.villanova.edu.