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Transforming Midwest Culture and Society: Women Artists, 1960s to 1980s

Type: Conferences & Symposia [View all]
Posted by: Bradley University
Deadline: Thu, November 2nd, 2017

The Art Department of Bradley University and Illinois Women Artists Project (IWA) are organizing the fourth biennial Midwest Women Artists Symposium to be held on the Bradley University campus November 2 and 3, 2017. The event is co-sponsored by the University’s Intellectual and Cultural Activities Committee.

The Symposium will examine the impact that Midwestern women artists of the 1960s and ’70s had on their communities and on the evolution of American art. Many of the women used their creative and organizational skills to address one or more of the social and political issues of the day, most notably civil rights, women’s rights, environmental conditions and the war in Vietnam. While aware of artistic currents in New York City and on the West Coast, they often took a different path in selecting the subject matter and/or the media in which to work.

The stories of these women artists have largely been left out of the scholarship on American art, and this symposium aims to correct that deficiency by examining the organizations they formed to exhibit and promote their creative activities; the social issues they addressed in their work and how that transformed their communities; and, how they were received by the press and other professional artists. Female artists who themselves helped shape the cultural life of the Midwest in the 1960s and 1970s will join scholars who have researched that period extensively on three discussion panels; their personal experiences will bring the period vividly to life.

Join historians, artists, writers, students, collectors and instructors for conversations and presentations. The Keynote Speaker will be Lynne Warren, Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Her talk, “Midwest Women Artists, 1960s to 1980s: A Stir of Voices,” will feature several case studies of Chicago-based artists, and contrast their experiences with those of their New York City and California peers, with the view to locating lessons for emerging women artists today. 

Chicago-based surrealist artist Eleanor Spiess-Ferris will present a short talk on her career and work, some of which will be on exhibit in Bradley University’s Heuser Gallery. An exhibition in Hartmann Gallery will feature works by other artists participating in the panel discussions, including Christine Rojek, Jane Gilmor, Barbara Ciujek, Sandra Menefee Taylor, Arlene Turner Crawford, Fern Shaffer, Lindsay Lochman and Jane Stevens.  Professor Rebecca Zorach of Northwestern University will speak on African-American muralists of the period.

The symposium is free, but registration is suggested.  For more information visit or contact Kristan H. McKinsey, Director, IWA at or 309-677-2860.  Scholars, researchers and graduate students are invited to submit 300 word proposals for 20 minute papers on relevant topics no later than June 30, 2017 to

This program has been made possible by a grant from the Eugene & Harriet Swager Fund for Public Art and the Taylor & Corinne French Fund/Fine Arts of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois.

Posted on Wed, May 31st, 2017
Expires on Thu, November 2nd, 2017

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