Faculty Off the Cuff Photo by Kris Qua._x1200

WCMA and Women

As an art major here at Williams College, I have taken advantage of the many resources available to students. One of the largest is of course the Williams College Museum of Art, whose collection has complemented my class work so well. As a young woman, I have also been inspired by the influential women who have helped mold the museum and its collection into what it is today.

Katherine E. Hurd, an art collector from New York City, donated a large part of her private collection and created the Kathryn E. Hurd Fund for the acquisition of American art in 1982. Similarly, the museum has the largest collection of Maurice and Charles Prendergast art in the world thanks to the generosity of Charles’ widow, Eugénie Van Kemmel Prendergast. The museum also has an impressive collection of art by female artists. From Impressionist Mary Cassat to contemporary artists like Jenny Holzer, Louise Bourgeois, and Kiki Smith. Mary Cassat, one of the very few women artists of the nineteenth century, is best known for painting the women’s realm, as it existed in Europe. Her work conveys tensions between the private (and feminine) sphere and the public (and masculine) sphere. Kiki Smith is interested in subverting sexist representations of the female body as a catalyst for discussions about femininity. Although they are both working within completely different historical constructs, both Cassat and Smith address the female body and its relation to society at large.

Above: Mary Cassat (American, 1844-1926); Reflection, 1889-90; drypoint on Japan paper; Museum purchase, Karl E. Weston Memorial Fund.

Kiki Smith (American, b. 1954); My Blue Lake, 1995; photogravure; Gift of the artist.

One Response to WCMA and Women

  1. Sasha T. says:

    As a male artist who loves the female form and paints it quite often. It is always interesting to see how female artists regard the female form and have painted it through out history.