Sacred sisterly secrets : a longitudinal study of twelve regional women artists
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This thesis explored the lives, thoughts, and experiences, as well as the perceptions and practices, of twelve regional women artists using their own words responses to questionnaires from 1971 and 1996. The participants in this study exhibited together in Women ’71, and twenty-five years later in Women ’71 Revisited (1996). They answered eight questions concerning their lives as artists in conjunction with the first (1971) exhibition. I posed the same eight questions to them as part of the 1996 exhibition. The objectives of this study were to render the contribution of women artists more visible and examine the role that gender has played in their lives as artists. To do this, their responses to both the questionnaires were compared and contrasted both with each other as well as with relevant, published literature. This study was limited to those areas identified as priorities by the women in their responses to the questionnaires. Therefore, gender discrimination in the art world, personal and professional compromises made by the women who participated in this study, and any real or perceived fundamental difference in artwork created by women and men became the topics discussed here. This study found that the women who participated in it believe that the art world is discriminatory against women in one way or another and most have had to make compromises in their personal life to accommodate the creation of artwork. Also, most of these women believe that everyone has attributes in their personality that can be identified as both male and female and some of those attributes will emerge in their artwork. The single sex focus of the 1971 and 1996 exhibitions is not meant to suggest that a category of "women’s art" exists. However, this thesis and the exhibitions were intended to help level the playing field of the art world and inspire increased interest in art by women.