PAFA Celebrates Women’s History Month With Special Events Honoring Female Artists

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PAFA Celebrates Women’s History Month With Special Events Honoring Female Artists


PHILADELPHIA (February 20, 2013) – The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) honors Women’s History Month (March 1-31) by highlighting the artistic work and contributions of female artists past and present with numerous events and programs open to the public.

Since PAFA’s First Annual Exhibition in 1811, women artists have played a central role in PAFA’s history—long before other American and European art schools accepted female students into their programs. By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, PAFA distinguished itself as a leader in arts education for women. Today, 60% of the students enrolled in PAFA’s Fine Arts School are women, many of whom, upon graduation, establish themselves as leading figures in the art world. Notable PAFA alumnae include Mary Cassatt (1844- 1926); Cecilia Beaux (1855-1942); Violet Oakley (1874- 1961); Edna Andrade (1917- 2008); Elizabeth Osborne (b. 1936); and Njideka Akunyili (b. 1983), among many others.

“Women artists have been integral to PAFA’s exhibitions and educational mission since our founding. Most recently, Linda Lee Alter’s stunning gift of art by women has given PAFA an exciting opportunity to honor our legacy of collecting, training, and exhibiting women artists. Not only have we had a chance to exhibit long-unseen works by women artists, but we are particularly thrilled that PAFA is generating new scholarship on women artists via our extended Women’s History Month programming, beginning this week with a Women in American Art Symposium,” says Dr. Anna O. Marley, Curator of Historical American Art.

Below is a list of related exhibitions, programs and events held at PAFA in celebration of Women’s History Month. Programming ranges from February 23 through April 4.


The Female Gaze: Women Artists Making Their World
Through April 7

On view for the first time, this exhibition presents over 200 works by modern and contemporary female artists featuring a multiplicity of aesthetic viewpoints, working methods, and political perspectives. The works are drawn from the Linda Lee Alter Collection of Art by Women of almost 500 works donated to PAFA in 2010. The exhibition includes major works by artists made new to PAFA’s collection through Alter’s generous gift, such as Louise Bourgeois, Joan Brown, Viola Frey, Ana Mendieta, Christina Ramberg, Kiki Smith, and Beatrice Wood (among others), as well as excellent works by artists already in the collection, including Gertrude Abercrombie, Edna Andrade, Sue Coe, Janet Fish, Sarah McEneaney, Alice Neel, Louise Nevelson, Gladys Nilsson, Elizabeth Osborne, Betye Saar, Nancy Spero, and many others.


Modern Women at PAFA: From Cassatt to O’Keeffe
Through September 1

In conjunction with The Female Gaze: Women Artists Making Their World, PAFA presents a companion installation featuring works by over 20 modern artists from Mary Cassatt to Georgia O’Keefe who paved the way for future generations of professional women artists. Since PAFA’s first annual exhibition in 1811, when Anna Claypoole Peale, Margaretta Angelica Peale, and Sarah Miriam Peale exhibited their work, women artists have been integral to PAFA’s exhibition program and educational mission.


Graduate Symposium: Women in American Art
February 23, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

This graduate symposium offers an opportunity for area graduate students to present new research on a particular artist or group of artists in American Art. Featuring original papers presented by graduate-level students at the University of Delaware, University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Princeton University, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Temple University, the program will conclude with a roundtable discussion by illustrious scholars of American Art. A full schedule of events is available online.


Politics, Gender, Identity and Beyond: Women’s History Month Art History Lecture Series
4 Saturdays: March 2, 9, 16, and 23 (Snow Date: March 30), 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

This course explores the remarkable ways women artists have experimented with new uses for traditional materials and techniques and how, in the process, they have made tremendously important contributions to ongoing discussions about politics, gender, nationality, the concept of Beauty, and the very definition of Fine Art. Focusing on a diverse selection of artists including Audrey Flack, Faith Ringgold, Louise Nevelson, Alison Saar, Sarah McEneaney and Elizabeth Catlett, this course highlights the work of many women artists who helped to define American visual culture in the 20th and 21st centuries. Instructor: Dr. Nancy G. Heller, Professor at the University of the Arts and author of Women Artists: An Illustrated History.

Tickets: Single-course: $20 ($15 PAFA Members); 4-part series: $70 ($50 PAFA Members); All tickets include Museum admission.

  • March 2: Women Painters from Photo-Realist to Faux-Naif
  • March 9: Radical Approaches to Sculpture
  • March 16: Experiments in Graphics: Prints and Drawings from North America
  • March 23: Re-Appropriating “Feminine” Materials and Techniques

“Art at Lunch” FOCUS Panel: Artist Diane Burko, Dr. Judith Stein & Curator Robert Cozzolino
March 6, 12-1 p.m.

The Feminist Art Movement had a huge impact on the art world beginning in the early 1970s. In Philadelphia in 1974, a two-month long festival called FOCUS turned the city into a massive collaborative programming space dedicated to women artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians and their impact on culture. Initially led by artist Diane Burko, the festival eventually grew into a massive group organized event that continues to reverberate in the city. Senior Curator and Curator of Modern Art Dr. Robert Cozzolino will discuss FOCUS with Diane Burko and Dr. Judith Stein, two of the members of the FOCUS committee.


Trunk Show
March 10, 1-5 p.m.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, PAFA’s museum store, PORTFOLIO, is hosting a Trunk Show featuring a selection of magnificent wearable art created by talented female artisans. Local silversmith, Amy Ragsdale, and textile artist/fiber designer, Denise Shardlow, will be here to showcase their one-of-a-kind creations.


PAFA After Dark: Word Play
March 21, 6-9 p.m.

For Women's History Month, we're bringing artists and wordsmiths together to celebrate the rich history of women in the arts. Play speed scrabble over cocktails, listen to the musical stylings of Suzette Ortiz and her band, and lend your words to our over-sized concrete poem interactive. Joined by poets from the Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project, we’ll have poetry readings throughout the night as well as the Timeline’s signature event—the women poets roll call.

Tickets: $10 in advance; $15 at the door; Free to PAFA Members.


Artist Talk: Sue Coe
April 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

PAFA is proud to have many of Sue Coe’s provocative, politically oriented artworks in our collection. Join us for an illustrated evening talk and learn about why this artist and activist makes the work she does.

Tickets: $15 general admission; Free for PAFA Members.


Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is America's first school of fine arts and museum.  A recipient of the 2005 National Medal of Arts presented by the President of the United States, PAFA is a recognized leader in fine arts education. Nearly every major American artist has taught, studied, or exhibited at the Academy. The institution's world-class collection of American art continues to grow and provides what only a few other art institutions in the world offer: the rare combination of an outstanding museum and an extraordinary faculty known for its commitment to students and for the stature and quality of its artistic work.