Hobart and William Smith Colleges kicked-off the “Double Vision: Woman as Image and Woman as Image-maker” art show with an opening reception on Friday, March 29, at the Davis Gallery at Houghton House. The exhibition honors the 40th anniversary of Women’s Studies at the Colleges and displays a selection of works created by women depicting women from the Colleges’ Collections.
Several art interns from the Colleges helped launch the “Double Vision” exhibit. Designers of the catalog include Christopher Greenwood ’14 and Kelly Liu ’14. The essayists of the catalog are Anne Habecker ’13, Justine Lynch ’14 and Lucy Lyon ’15. In addition, the designers and installers of the exhibition are Rosemary Chandler ’13, Katherine Cornell ’15, Virginia McDermott ’14, Francesca Pittelli ’14 and Sarah St. Amand ’14.
“What makes the exhibit worthy of both comment and a visit is the amount of involvement, commitment and collaboration that went into putting the show together,” says Chandler. “Participating in the show’s presentation provided a unique opportunity to witness these features of the show as diverse departments at HWS came together and tapped into the Colleges’ strong women’s studies program.”
The range of works on display comes from the vision of the women artists and the vision of the women they depicted. Ranging from an early 20th century piece by Mary Cassatt to an early 21st century piece by Kara Walker, the array of works features mothers and children, mythological figures, political criticism, abstract figures, and portraits. Styles include Impressionism, New Realism and many others.
Pittelli says the show represents the value that the Colleges put on the important role that women play in our society. “There is an important case to be made for how women artists have seized the opportunity to use art to portray women over the past century through various social and political changes,” she says.
Visual Arts Curator Kathryn Vaughn dedicated the exhibit and its catalog to the many women and men who have fostered art and feminism for more than 40 years at Hobart and William Smith and especially Endowed Chair and Professor of Art History Elena Ciletti, who will be retiring at the end of the year. “Double Vision” was the title of a student publication in the 1980s, and “Woman as Image and Imagemaker” is the title of an art history course taught by Ciletti.
According to Vaughn, the Collections at Hobart and William Smith Colleges contain many works by women artists, only a few of which are included in this exhibition. She notes the first women’s studies major, Janet Braun Reinitz ’73, also majored in studio art and has gone on to lead a successful career as feminist and artist. The earliest work in the Colleges’ Collection by a woman is the 1896 etching, “You Bleed from Many Wounds, O People,” by Käthe Kollwitz, which was a gift from Ciletti. The latest work in the collection is a 2012 woodcut, “Glacial Moment,” by Karen Kunc , a presentation of the Rochester Print Club.
“We must also remember that often ‘anonymous’ was a woman,'” Vaughn says.
The exhibit will continue until April 19 and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m.