Feminist writer, artist hosts talk at Art Library


Two exhibits concerning people and the human condition by feminist artist and writer Joan Arbeiter premiered Friday at the Art Library on the College Avenue campus.

"I think the Art Library should be a venue for showcasing art, in addition to all of the art books we have here," said Sara Harrington, a librarian. "And so when Joan Arbeiter contacted us, we thought it was a wonderful opportunity to share this pedagogical experience with the campus."

The showing included a work related to Arbeiter's experiences as a young woman, titled "Portrait of the Artist As a Young Girl Fulfilling Society's Limited Expectations," and a portraiture of women artists, titled "Lives and Works: Talks with Women Artists."

The paintings are watercolor on clay board and contain many allusions to the artist within the portraits through use of certain materials, colors, text and backgrounds, Arbeiter said.

The women portrayed are artists who exhibited at the Mary H. Dana Women Artist Series, which was established in 1971 at the Mabel Smith Douglass Library.

Arbeiter said there is a lack of attention paid by the cultural and artistic world to women artists.

"You don't know any of these people, and why not?" Arbeiter said. "They have been working their whole lives."

She said she was unaware of the obstacles women artists face as an undergraduate student at Douglass College.

"I never noticed that I was in a women's college without any women teachers," she said. "I was an art major, and I never saw a work by a woman artist, not even in my textbook. Now this campus right here is a hotbed of feminist art activity. Feminism is the lens through which I perceive things."

Arbeiter said the works in this exhibit arrange the pivotal points of her upbringing.

They include many 1950s advertisements and media clippings, which Arbeiter said have sexist overtones, shown alongside pictures of her growing up.

Harrington said she enjoyed viewing Arbeiter's work.

"I think the works that speak to me most are those that speak to Joan Arbeiter's personal experience," Harrington said. "I particularly like the medium of collage."

Caroline Caviness, an intern at the Art Library, said she thinks Arbeiter is a good example for young artists on campus.

"I think that, as a young person working with a lot of young women artists, they are blazing a trail with their art," Caviness said. "We do feel that showing art is a way to engage the community."


Pablo Albilal

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