Sponsored by the Providence Art Club

March 25, 2017

The Making Her Mark Symposium , at the Historic First Baptist Church Providence, RI was organized by Anna Dempsey, PhD. (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Chair of the Art History Department). Prof. Dempsey was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to conduct research at the Winterthur Museum for her book project, Working Women Artists and the Construction of American Modernism, 1880-1930.

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Key Symposium Links

History of the Providence Art Club

Virtual tour of the Providence Art Club

Other links of interest

Symposium Sponsors

The historic side of Providence

Symposium Speakers and Topics

President’s Welcome: David C. DePetrillo, Providence Art Club
Introduction of moderator: Catherine Little Bert, Co-Curator Making Her Mark

Symposium moderator: Anna Dempsey, Ph.D., Chair of the Art History Department, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Kirsten Swinth, Ph.D.
Painting Professionals: How Women Artists Remade the American Art World at the Turn of the Century.
Short description: This talk explored how the thousands of women seeking careers as artists after the Civil War transformed the art world. Art schools, markets, criticism, and galleries all bore the imprint of this dramatic transformation in the field, despite the fact that many of these women artists have not been part of the art historical record.

Nancy Austin, Ph.D.  
Leadership and Women Founders: Rhode Island School of Design, 1877 & the Providence Art Club 1880.
Short description:  In her talk, Dr. Austin highlighted the leadership roles played by women in Providence’s 19th century professional art associations—institutions which continue to form the backbone of the city’s current cultural landscape.  Dr. Austin focused on women artists’ significant contributions to the founding of RISD and the Providence Art Club.  Her talk was based on research she published in Infinite Radius: Founding Rhode Island School of Design, 2008.

Laura Franz, MDes.  
From Eleanor Talbot to Eliza Gardiner: Art and Design as Women’s Work, 1880 – 1920
Short Description: Professor Laura Franz explored the motivations and methods behind the “non-elite” art and designs created by New England women artists between 1880-1920.  In particular, she focused on the book illustrations of Eleanor Talbot, one of the founding members of the Providence Art Club.  Prof. Franz also discussed the life and work of Eliza Gardiner, a printmaker and Sophia Pitman’s assistant at Moses Brown school.

Collecting Historic Women Artists Panel Discussion:  
Moderated by Nancy Whipple Grinnell, Co-Curator Making Her Mark: the Women of the Providence Art Club, 1880
Kenneth Woodcock: Collector of Hale Family art
John Hagan: Art Advisor and Dealer
Daniel Mechnig: Collector of Rhode Island art
Sheila Robbins:  Collector of 19th c. American art          

Laura Prieto, Ph.D.
The Art of Protest: Women Artists and the Suffrage Movement.
Short Description: This talk focused on American women artists and political activism at the turn of the 20th century, specifically how women artists created a place for themselves in the public sphere through the suffrage movement. Women painters, sculptors, and illustrators united over a century ago to create art for fund-raising and public protest, to march in suffrage parades, and to document their own activism. Their work in and beyond Providence marks an important turning point in both women's history and art history.

Amanda C. Burdan, Ph.D.  
Paris to Providence: Tracking Rosa Peckham.
Short description: “Paris to Providence” traced the life of Rosa Peckham Danielson, a Paris Salon exhibitor and Providence Art Club founder, as she negotiated her path through an art world that simultaneously encouraged women to study art and discouraged them from pursuing it professionally. Peckham’s experiences, both successes and failures, reveal the seriousness with which she and other women pursued the fine arts in the late 19th century—thus laying the groundwork for women artists’ breaking with gendered cultural conventions.

Memory Holloway, Ph.D.
Helen Watson Phelps: Out of the Shadows and into the Light.
Short Description: The subject of Prof. Holloway’s talk was Helen Watson Phelp’s education at the Académie Julian and her involvement in the professional Paris art world. In particular, she focused on the intersection of fine arts and design, specifically the relationship between painting, French decorative arts and Paris fashion at the end of the 19th century. Dr. Holloway’s paper illuminated the transatlantic connections between American and European art during this period.