The Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania in Lemont will present “Pro Femina: Women’s Voices,” an art exhibit and sale featuring 24 women artists portraying women realistically and abstractly in painting, sculpture, photography, collage and cut paper.
Touted as a positive, non-political event representing women of all ages, “Pro Femina” runs through Dec. 10 and kicks off with an opening reception 7-9 p.m. Dec. 4. There’s also an evening of poetry and music during the show on Dec. 6
The exhibit will include visual art, poetry, and music — all in “women’s voices.” The visual art will include a variety of media from artists who also have a full range of expression — oils, watercolor, photography, collage, sculpture, abstract and realistic.
Also featured will be the original cut paper artwork by Harriet M. Rosenberg for the holiday card of the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, for which donations will go toward the center.
Exhibition co-chairs Linda Hale and Marisa Eichman initially had the idea for a show for women artists depicting women. Hale approached chairwoman of the exhibitions committee, Anne Cortese, who then presented the idea to Marie Doll, executive director of the Art Alliance. Doll enthusiastically supported the show and found an available week in the full calendar of events and offered it to them with some financial support for advertising and promotion.
A list of Art Alliance members who have used women in their art previously were then invited to participate in the non-juried show.
“It was never intended to be about the quality of the art as much as the value of the art and its effect on the viewer,” said Hale, a self-taught amateur photographer who lives in Port Matilda. “We organized a potluck of these artists to build on the idea and subsequently, added an evening of poetry and music.”
They also devised a list of organizations to personally invite, and they wanted to let as many people — especially women — know about the show. The list included groups and organizations that support people in the community who may not typically attend art shows.
“All people can be touched by art and benefit from that touch,” Hale said. “We wanted to share this experience with the young and the old, women with special needs, women in support or treatment groups and women in the community who do not typically attend art shows.”
“Pro Femina” was partly inspired by a larger national movement in art called “Women Painting Women.” Six years ago, realist painter Sadie Valeri noticed a show of paintings at Sotheby’s called “Women,” showcasing paintings of women by some of the most famous names in art, such as Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso. But none of works featured in the show were created by women.
“Sadie then started a blog with some other painters and then started having shows called ‘Women Painting Women,’ ” said Eichman, a realist oil painter from State College. “Since then it’s become a national movement with many spin-off shows.”
“Pro Femina” is central Pennsylvania’s version. Although Pro Femina isn’t just about realist painters, the same theme is behind it — women seen through the eyes of women.
“Linda and I were at an art show exactly a year ago, showing each other photos of our work and talking about this movement,” Eichman said. “From this conversation, Linda went out and made it happen.”
Some of the works featured in “Pro Femina” include a charcoal drawing by Elody Gyekis, a gouache by Ruth Kempner, an acrylic painting by Charleen Casbourne and a digital photo-collage by Karen Deutsch.
Also featured in the show will be a watercolor portrait by State College artist Anni Matsick. In “A Nod to Virginia Woolf,” Matsick captures the engaging gaze of her cousin’s daughter, Bucknell’s Dr. Erica Delsandro, who teaches courses in literature and women’s and gender studies. Delsandro has published articles on Virginia Woolf and organized and presented on several panels examining the literature of the 1930s in relationship to modernism and history.
“The energetic strokes suggest the spritely enthusiasm for her subject that is so much a part of her personal charm, as evidenced on WPSU-TV’s ‘After Abbey,’ where she appeared as a consultant last season,” Matsick said. “The chin in hand echoes Woolf’s well-known photograph.”
On Dec. 6, “Pro Femina — An Evening of Poetry and Music,” will feature poets Charlotte Holmes, Margie Gaffrom, Carol Motto, Laura Nejako, Mary Rohrer-Dann, Ivy Smith, Camille-Yvette Welsch and Mary McGuire.
Music will be provided by local singer-songwriter and acoustic guitarist Misha Cleveland, whose style can be described as contemporary folk.
“I’ve always been struck by the raw honesty and passionate intensity of her songs and performances,” Eichman said.
Whether visual, spoken or sung, art is a way of telling stories that goes beyond words and speaks to our deepest hearts and minds.
“I’m very aware of the power of stories to shape our lives — the movies, music, books, our tales and mythologies,” Eichman said. “Women need to tell and share their stories through their own voices.”
Women need to tell and share their stories through their own voices.
Marisa Eichman, exhibition co-chairwoman
Not only do organizers want to make this an event that attracts new viewers to art, but they also hope also to give them an opportunity to respond to it and provoke ongoing conversations about women and their unique role in our community and lives.
“This is an opportunity for women to communicate in art with their vision of a woman or women,” Hale said. “We would also like to expand the show in future years to include other artists to keep the conversations going.”
Eichman believes a better, more honest and whole conversation between women, and between the sexes, would be a powerful force for growing the community, raising stronger children and having a happier community. Ultimately she would like to see a similar show by men, about men.
“I hope this exhibit will be the start of a conversation — all art really is a type of conversation — between and among women, and between and among everybody,” she said. “By sharing and exploring how we see ourselves and each other, we can learn more about our commonalities and the challenges we all face as women, and as human beings.”
IF YOU GO
- What: “Pro Femina: Women’s Voices: Art Exhibit and Sale”
- When: Dec. 4-10; opening reception 7-9 p.m. Dec. 4; “An Evening of Poetry and Music” 6-9 p.m. Dec. 6
- Where: Art Alliance, 818 Pike St., Lemont
- Info: www.artalliancepa.org