New View of the Female Artist

January 31, 2008
Arresting image: Artist Alita Walsh is taken into custody for not moving her car at the first Women's Equality Day march in New York, August 1970. Image from Sally Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture


Arresting image: Artist Alita Walsh is taken into custody for not moving her car at the first Women's Equality Day march in New York, August 1970. Image from Sally Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture
Bettye Lane

Exploring the concept of the female artist was the focus of a symposium sponsored by the Sally Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture this past fall.

Titled "Neither Model Nor Muse," the center's third biennial symposium celebrated women as creators and producers of art rather than as sources of inspiration, as they are often seen throughout history. It also recognized that the term "female artist" encompasses a diverse group of people, as well as works. "The perception is that women artists are all white, straight, middle-class women," says Laura Micham, the center's director and the event's primary organizer. "We wanted to problematize that."

The symposium drew some 200 people for workshops, performances, and lectures covering topics ranging from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century domestic arts to women in hip-hop. One workshop featured Cuntry Kings, a drag performance troupe, while another, just down the hall, considered the art of book binding.