Mary Cassatt, Mother Looking Down, Embracing Her Children, 1905-1908, Pastel. Purchased with funds donated by the Enid & Crosby Kemper Foundation.
An estimated 13% of the artists in most American museum collections are women. This number lags behind the reality that the majority of students earning BFA and MFA degrees today are women. In 1935, 41% of the artists receiving federal funding were women. Even in 1893, 19% of the artists in the Palace of Fine Arts at the Chicago Columbian Exposition were women. With a collection made up of almost 20% women artists, the Albrecht-Kemper Museum is excited to share this diverse body of work in (Women) Artists from the Collection, 1800-2022. Co-curated with Megan Wyeth and Soodie Beasley, we hope to introduce viewers to artists that may have been overlooked or let them visit with their favorites.
The 94 women represented in this exhibition are from a wide spectrum of artistic backgrounds, styles and points of view. The oldest piece known to be made by a woman is a sterling silver tea tray created by English silversmith Ann Bateman in 1800. Also featured are Rosa Bonheur and Henriette Wyeth, who were raised in artistic families with training easily accessible, while other artists like Jo Sickbert and Elizabeth Layton developed successful careers as self-taught artists. Even casual museumgoers are probably familiar with names like Mary Cassatt and Louise Nevelson, while Mary Nimmo Moran, a lauded printmaker in the late 19th century, has become a footnote in the career of her better-known husband, Thomas Moran.
Visitors to this exhibition are encouraged to consider the ways in which the artists’ identities manifest in their artwork. Women and their experiences are not monolithic. The struggles and joys of every artist are unique; social class, immigration status, religion, education, marital status and motherhood, just to name a few, all affect the creative output. While their gender may have played a role in opportunities available, publicity, and art market impact, each artist has explored the world in their own way.
(Women) Artists from the Collection, 1800-2022 is on view through Sept. 17 at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in St. Joseph. For current information about special events and programming related to this exhibition, visit www.albrecht-kemper.org.
Financial assistance provided by the St. Joseph, Missouri Visitors Bureau.