Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the Corey Anne Celebration of Women in the Arts. This special event, hosted annually by Florence Thomas Art School is exactly that – a celebration of women in the arts.
It was truly stimulating to hear the five featured artists talk about their work and the paths to becoming the creative women that they are today.
From the time that Julia Considine led everyone in a deep-breathing exercise to put everyone in the moment (inhale – think of what you want, and exhale – think of what you want to be rid of) to the wrap-up with all singing an upbeat song, it was an uplifting and inspiring morning, for sure!
Just a few examples: A ceramic artist who stated that she was retired and re-fired! How wonderful to close one career and be energized all over again with a new venture; a photographer whose work reflects that sometimes the world is not all beauty and her wish to have others see things as she sees them, and finally the artist whose travels took her from pottery to painting and reinforced her desire to pursue a life filled with art. Not to mention the keynote speaker who reminded us that women in the arts is still a work in progress and then encouraged us to look at the sky where there is no glass ceiling.
A glorious celebration, indeed of women in the arts. All of this got me wondering about some of the earlier times of female artists, so I decided to do some snooping.
Did I say earlier times? How about Helena of Egypt (4th century BC). She was a painter who learned her craft from her father. Or Herrad of Landsberg, who was a 12th century nun. She is credited with the Hortus Deliciarum, a collection of the studies of science known at that time. This was an illustrated work and it is thought that she did many of the illustrations, as well as the majority of the editing.
On through the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods, and then into the 18th and 19th century and beyond, my searching around indicated that as time progressed, more and more women artists were recognized as formal training became more widely available. Before that, in the ancient historical era, women artists were not even mentioned by name but only referenced vaguely through the writings of men. We have come a long way, indeed.
So back to Keynote Speaker, Edith Crutcher, who gave a marvelous presentation. When she mentioned that women in the arts is still a work in progress, I now realize that female artists of today stand on many shoulders and are still paving the way for future generations – just like Florence Thomas did.
There is a wealth of information on women artists out there. Do yourself a favor and explore this fascinating subject.
Florence Blog Post written by Becky Stragand
Becky Stragand is a writer and retired educator who enjoys books, interior design, and tending to her cats. She lives in West Jefferson with her husband and felines.