Women’s View –Two Generations of Women Artists From New York

Abstract expressionism and other works of art by two generations of women will be on display at Haverford College's Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery from January 21 to February 20.

Entitled, "Women's View -Two Generations of Women Artists From New York," the exhibit includes 40 paintings, drawings, water colors and pastels created over the last 30 years by 18 influential women artists from New York.

There will be an opening reception on January 21 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Among the artists represented in the show are five renowned painters who studied art in New York during the 1930s and 1940s: the late Nell Blaine, the late Gretna Campbell, Lois Dodd, Louisa Matthaisdottir and Ruth Miller. Although heavily influenced by the European art of that period, these women developed during the abstract expressionist movement in the United States became well known for their work as artists, teachers and critics.

Nell Blaine, whose work continues to be shown at Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York, created oil paintings and water colors of landscapes as well as still-lives. Gretna Campbell's works, such as "Van Campden's Glen," include many large oil paintings of her first-hand observations of landscapes. Both artists' works contain highly chromatic, rich colors.

Also included in the show are paintings by Lois Dodd which depict various New Jersey landscapes and the contrast between the modern architecture and nature in those settings; cityscapes and a self-portrait with still-life by Louisa Matthiasdottir, and still-lifes in oil by Ruth Miller.

As artists, art critics, and teachers at prominent art schools, including Parsons School of Design and the Studio School of New York, these women inspired a younger generation of female artists, who emerged in the 1960s and 1970s and developed their own unique artistic voices. Among these representing the next generation in this show will be Korean-born Young Hee Choi Martin; Jane Culp, a teacher at The Studio School of New York; Martha Armstrong; Susanna Coffey; and Ying Li, a visiting assistant professor in fine arts at Haverford College, who is also curating the exhibit.

Martin, who came to the United States in 1970 and studied at Yale University, creates imaginary complex figure compositions in her paintings and charcoal drawings. Culp's water colors, oil paintings and drawings are inspired by the mountains and scenic landscape of the American West, and oil landscapes by Martha Armstrong represent a cubist expression of landscape scenes. Coffey, a teacher at the Chicago Art Institute, creates self-portraits from monotype.

Works by representational and abstract artists Ying Li will include an abstract oil painting entitled, "Searching for Peacock," that represents the movement of air and water and an acrylic landscape of Vermont, "Vermont Water Series #2."

While several of these artists' works have appeared together in other shows, this exhibit is one of the first venues to combine the works of two generations of women artists.

"Viewers are invited to reflect on these two generations and on the good fortune of today's art student, who can appreciate that their forbearers were women as well as men," says Ying Li, who was reminded of her own artistic liberation as she put together this exhibit.

Growing up in China, Li studied socialist realist art in college before leaving for the United States to avoid an overbearing Chinese government and its artistic censorship. "You painted for the government and you painted for the party. Everything had a political purpose, and it was not good to show your emotions in the work," says Li. When she arrived in New York in 1983, she knew very little English. However, she learned form and studied with the other women in this exhibit, many of whom were also from foreign countries and different cultures. Gradually, she developed a new representational and abstract style and freed herself from the constraints of socialist realist art.

"This exhibit not only shows that women have painted boldly beautiful works," says Li. "It's also a celebration of our shared experiences as artists and as women."