The 15th Annual Petrie Institute of Western American Art Symposium is Wednesday, January 6, 2021. The topic this year is "Great Women and the Arts of the West." Tickets for this online event are $10 for members and $20 for the public. Students are free.
In January 1971, pioneering feminist art historian Linda Nochlin published the eye-opening essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” She argued that the traditional organization of the art world, beginning with an artist’s training, had systematically denied women entry. It wasn’t that there weren’t great, accomplished women artists but that greatness, as understood in the western European canon, depended on definitions promoted by the institutions of art—the academies, the salons, the museums—which, by design, excluded women.
Since Nochlin’s intervention, more art historians, artists, and curators have recovered the history of countless female artists, expanded and deepened our understanding of artistic movements and cultures, and encouraged us to question systemic biases and blind spots.
During the last 50 years, we have become more attuned to the institutional obstacles women in the arts faced and continue to face, and there are still more stories to tell and work to be done.
This year’s symposium hopes to contribute to the ongoing efforts to recognize the role that women have played in the art world. Talks will consider the overlooked importance of female volunteers in museums and the role of Indigenous women artists in the creation of American art, as well as individual case studies of women artists in New Mexico and California.
Associate curator Jennifer R. Henneman also will describe the commitment of the Petrie Institute at the Denver Art Museum to collecting women artists of the West and highlight some of our recent acquisitions by Ethel Magafan, Eda Sterchi, Regina Winifred Mulroney, and others.