Sunday Guest Blog: An Art Problem

O: Let’s do an art project!

This was O’s Saturday morning greeting to me. And when I referred to her as my little Picasso, I stopped short. With a liberal arts degree and a genuine enjoyment of visiting museums, for the life of me, the only female painters I could name were the 20th Century masters, Georgia O’Keeffe and Frieda Kahlo. Did any other women paint in or before the 20th Century? I knew the answer to this was yes, but I was ashamed that I had never thought to explore the question.

Our little Guan Daoshengs

Our little Guan Daoshengs

So, I did the natural thing and Googled, “famous female painters." I was greeted with a page full of paintings by famous female painters dating back to the 13th Century. Even among the more contemporary painters, I knew a scant few of the names.

So I’m starting a mission. And not just one of instant Google gratification, but a mission to visit the library and museums with my girls to find out about female artists (really, just artists, though the need for gender qualification does serve as a sad illustration of my point) and to seek out their exhibitions in galleries.

I like to think of myself as a feminist dad, rearing two strong, hardworking, capable-of-anything daughters, but how can I do this when there are still gaping holes in my own knowledge of the contributions of women, not just in the arts, but in politics and science, to name a few, throughout the centuries?

It is one small mission that I hope will lead to more questions and more answers and more awareness of the often under appreciated contributions of women in our society, a first step towards enriching the lives of my children, by educating myself. 

Anyone have any suggestions for where to start?