Saturday, November 24, 2012

Here Goes...

Like so many, I have had a myriad of "careers" in my life. I performed as an actress in musical theatre on the East Coast, produced and wrote a cable newsmagazine series in Washington, D.C., wore hats on the job from production assistant to associate producer in television and film production in Los Angeles. All, for the most part, but, not particularly fullfilling. After finally getting that it was time to become serious about art, I surrendered to my life's work, went back to school (for multiple degrees), and have been making and teaching art for over twenty-five years. It's taken a while to formulate my position on art and what it means to me, but, this is where my conclusions have finally taken root.

First, the question must be posited: What is art and why does it matter?  My "definition" of art recognizes any creative means of communication between the maker and viewer which has been thoughtfully and carefully designed and executed. Every work of art has something to say. Art matters because it adds beauty to our lives. Art causes us to ponder, it makes us feel marvelous or uncomfortable, and it can excite or soothe. It may be good or bad, but there is no right or wrong in art.  

As an art and art history instructor, I am delighted to be able to discern more readily information about art and sculpture. Further study reveals the culture from which the artwork comes, religious beliefs, social mores, wealth, and the level of technology attained in that culture. Every work of art holds a treasure of information and, more importantly, for many past cultures, the artwork constitutes the only clue as to how that population lived and in what they believed.

The focus of my doctoral dissertation is on female artists who lived and worked in the United States during the years 1900 to 1940. The early years of the last century were a time of unprecedented change in society and in the rapidly evolving roles of women. Extensive research devoted to six specific female artists, three from the East and three from the West, uncovered a vast array of additional working artists, sculptors, and photographers, who made significant contributions to the art and culture of the period, but whose names are unknown to most art lovers, artists, and scholars, both in and out of the art world.

Throughout the research process, I came to admire the women who traveled to, walked through, and settled in the West. What a brave and hardy bunch! They brought their ideas and talent-some painted, others told their stories in quilts, other women sculpted and created pots. This blog is intended to present to you, the women who made art (and continue to do so) in the Western United States. The West in the early nineteenth century was the frontier, the edge of America-a wild region that was entirely foreign to the art establishment of the the East, notably, New York. My intention is to inspire and inform you about their lives, the art, and the struggles of these most talented Women out West. 

Marion Wachtel
Marion Wachtel, Long Lake, Sierra Nevada,
ca. 1925, oil on canvas, 20 x 26 in.
© The Irvine Museum

No comments:

Post a Comment