Painting She-roes

There I was with a glass of wine in one hand and a paint brush in the other. As I created a real painting on the canvas, I marveled as I thought this was a talent I did not possess. Women (and men) around the country are discovering their inner artists at "studios" where painting and wine go together. Women haven't always used wine to lubricate their painting abilities. Women painters have been around for centuries and have made major cultural contributions. Match the artist with her accomplishment:

____ 1. The first African-American woman to have a solo exhibit at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City.
____ 2. Remembered for her paintings of mothers and children, some of which have been featured on U.S. postage stamps.
____ 3. She began paintings in her late 70s and became an international superstar with her "American Primitive" depictions of rural America.
____ 4. She painted many of the plants and animals that surround the birds in Audubon's Birds of America.
____ 5. Known for her vivid flower paintings and depictions of the New Mexico landscape, her work has been featured on U.S. postage stamps.

A. Maria Martin Bachman
B. Alma Thomas
C. Mary Cassatt
D. Georgia O'Keeffe
E. Grandma Moses

It might surprise you to know that many of the plant and animals that surround the birds in John James Audubon's Birds of America were painted by a woman - Maria Martin Bachman. For twenty years (1831-1851), Bachman anonymously painted the backgrounds needed for Audubon's bird drawings. When her brother-in-law (and future husband) collaborated in 1839 with Audubon on a book about the animals in North America, The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, she also anonymously painted those backgrounds. Today, we know which drawings are hers and we also know that her work appeared in an American work on herpetology (the study of amphibians and reptiles) and some of her drawings are in the Charleston Museum.

Mary Cassatt spent much of her adult life in France and became reknown for her paintings of mothers and children. Born in Pennsylvania in 1844, Cassatt's youth involved travel, learning languages, and being educated abroad. Although her family did not approve of her becoming a professional artist, she was not deterred. In 1868, one of her paintings was accepted for a juried art show. After a brief sojourn back to U.S., Cassatt returned to Europe in 1871 and, in 1877, was invited to join the Impressionist salon. Residng in France for the rest of her life, Cassatt focused on women and children after 1900 and, from 1914 on, became a suffrage supporter. She and her paintings have been featured on U.S. postage stamps and she has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

The first fine arts graduate of Howard University (1921), Alma Thomas had wanted to be an architect or builder. Instead, she taught art in the public schools as her professional career and pursued her own painting in her off-work hours. After she retired from teaching, she was able to develop her distinctive painting style. Her abstract paintings debuted at Howard University in 1966, when she was 75 years old. A significant role model for African-American women as well as older women, Thomas was the first African-American woman to have a solo exhibit at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City. In addition, her art was shown at the White House on three different occasions.

Modern artist Georgia O'Keeffe is remembered for her vivid flower paintings, her landscape art, and her depictions of New Mexico. After her first exhibit was mounted in New York City in 1916, she became recognized for her paintings of New York skyscrapers and flowers. Her 1929 trip to New Mexico would influence her art and her life and she would move there permanently in 1949. Many of her paintings reflected the New Mexico desert terrain and adobe architecture. Today, she is honored at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her paintings have been featured on U.S. postage stamps and O'Keeffe has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Like Alma Thomas, Grandma Moses (Anna Mary Robertson) is a significant role model for older women. Taking up painting in her 70s after arthritis made embroidery too difficult for her, Grandma Moses was discovered in 1938 by a New York collector who happened upon her paintings displayed in the drugstore window of Hoosick Falls, New York. Her public debut occurred in 1940 at the Galerie St. Etienne in New York City, followed by a Thanksgiving display at Gimbels Department Store. Grandma Moses, with her depictions of rural America, called "American Primitive", became a superstar. Her life was told in a documentary and one of her paintings was published on a U.S. postage stamp.

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. All of these painters are among the more than 850 women profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. We cherish their cultural contributions.

(Answers 1-B, 2-C, 3-E, 4-A, 5-D )