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Winners of ISU National Women’s Art Exhibit announced

Posted March 27, 2007

Winners at the National Women’s Art Exhibit at Idaho State University have been announced.

The exhibit themed “Celebrating Women: Their Strength and Vision” ran through March 31 and was held in the Transition Gallery and Mind’s Eye galleries in the Pond Student Union Building, and the Seasonal Gallery in the Idaho Museum of Natural History.

Four juried awards were given at the event, including Best of Show to Carla Jensen for her collage “Seibstbildnis,” the Artemesia Gentleschi Award to Lynne Parker for her metal work “Palm Planet,” the Mary Cassatt Award to Grace Owens for her watercolor “Wedding Day 1927,” and the Georgia O’Keefe Award to Sandy Bakken for her weaving “Passion.” Winning exhibit entries can be viewed online at www.isu.edu/womenstu/NWAEwinners.html.

In addition, Claudia McCoy, the curator of the exhibit who is also a practicing artist and assistant director of women’s studies at ISU, delivered the first Claude J. Whitehead Memorial Award in honor of her father – the first feminist she ever new – to the piece that best exemplified the show’s theme. That award went to “Ode to the Industrial Revolution: Freedom,” a silk painting by Alana Bills, who also won the People’s Choice Award given out a week into the show.

Two events last week celebrated the opening of the Women’s Studies Program’s seventh annual art exhibit. An opening night event and a private reception also raised enough funds for two scholarships for women in the arts who are attending ISU. McCoy said at the private reception on Saturday, “I have dreamed about this day for seven years and it is finally here. I am so honored to be among a group of such talented women, and the men who support them.”

The juried exhibit showcases innovative, interesting, and sometimes challenging art by women from all over the United States from Louisiana and New Jersey to right here in Pocatello. The women artists range from amateur to student to professional and the work ranges in media from oil and watercolor painting to metal work, clay, weaving, assemblages, and even a sculpture of women’s hair and bobby pins!

This year’s exhibit is particularly special because it highlights the work of Native American artists through an exhibit funded in part by a generous grant from the Idaho Commission on the Arts. The Seasonal Gallery features examples of fine arts craft in beadwork, featherwork, and other traditions that are important to the local tribal communities. From traditional bonnets to decorated buckskin clothes to beaded cell phone covers, the exhibit underscores the centrality of these fine arts craft traditions to Shoshone and Bannock history and contemporary life.The exhibit brings to a wider audience some traditions of great artistic merit that are vital to Native American culture in the region.

Drusilla Gould, Shoshone language instructor at ISU, helped to coordinate the exhibit and she worked with many artists and families from the local tribal community who were willing to share their work and their traditions for the event. The opening night’s reception featured a short talk by Ms. Gould on the cultural heritage of some of those arts traditions. A few local Native American artists were also in attendance to demonstrate and talk about their art work.

The opening night’s reception on March 19 was the largest gallery opening in ISU history with as many as four hundred people in attendance. McCoy spoke at the event about the tremendous richness and variety in the show, which underscores the creativity that women artists can achieve when they are properly supported.

On Saturday, March 24, ISU President Arthur C. Vailas and his wife Laura I. Vailas, PhD, hosted a private reception that coincided with the end of a silent auction that benefits women’s studies scholarships and programs in the College of Arts and Sciences. The silent auction featured donated art work from many prominent local artists, including Lori Piccolo, Helen Livingston, Gail Dial, Juliette Fighe, and so many others, as well as a signed print of Gwyneth Paltrow and Blythe Danner by world famous photographer Annie Leibowitz. Longtime ISU supporters were on hand for a special viewing of the exhibit and to band together in the common effort to support Women’s Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences as they foster women students in the arts, and all the disciplines.

This exhibit is about women's hearts, their souls, the things they love and hate, and most importantly their everyday experiences. Historically, women artists have been excluded from the canon of art history and it is only in recent decades that women artists have successfully struggled to be taken seriously. The National Women’s Art Show at Idaho State University provides a forum to celebrate the achievements and creativity of women artists working today, and will feature work by local and national artists.

The total number of entries for the show was 156. That was juried down to a show of 85 pieces.  From those 85, there were five awards given. Entries came from New York, Louisiana, Florida, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Montana, Colorado, California, Utah, Oregon, and Idaho.

For more information on Women’s Studies or the annual exhibit, contact Claudia McCoy at (208) 234-5002 or Brian Norman and Laura Woodworth-Ney, co-directors of women’s studies, at 234-2606 or 234-4384.