Wikipedia just got a major arts renovation. At Art + Feminism‘s second annual edit-a-thon at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the names of over 200 female artists were added to the free online encyclopedia.
Wikipedia is shockingly male-centric in terms of the topics it covers and the people who edit the site (according to a 2011 study, less than 10% of its contributors are female), and Art + Feminism is one of many campaigns that seek to improve the site’s coverage of women.
“Our goal has really been to take the conversation outside of the current group of active Wikipedia editors and broaden it, to get the attention of people who don’t usually consider themselves Wikipedia editors,” Art + Feminism organizer and METRO Wikipedian-in-Residence Dorothy Howard says.
Last year’s event added more than 100 female artists from participants in six countries. This year a range of participants — many new to editing Wikipedia — worked in conjunction with 70 different satellite locations in the United States and worldwide (from Los Angeles County Museum of Art to Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum) to add 200 female artists. An impressive 36 new articles were created, and 79 improved upon at the MoMA event, which was open to the public.
This week’s edit-a-thon also helped close a gap in content, adding artists that represent a full gamut of periods, movements and media. “We were trying to include a lot of different representations in terms of artists, art movements, time periods, geographical location, and art making,” says Howard. “It’s pretty wide open.”
Check out a sample of the women artists who have been added to the annals of Wikipedia art history.
Born in 1944 in New York City, Mary Miss is an environmental artist who was part of the “land art” movement in the 1960s. Her work incorporates architectural building materials like wood, concrete and metal. From her new Wikipedia entry: “Miss’s working process involves visiting the site and discovering significant elements of the natural and built environments. She also researches the history of a site, to identify significant events and local associations.”
American feminist painter Joan Semmel (born in 1932) is known for painting nude self-portraits, which she called “the idea of myself as I experience myself, my own view of myself.” From her new Wikipedia entry: “The self portraits such as Me Without Mirrors (1974) include the artist’s body from about the collarbone to the feet and do not include her face. Source photographs for the large-scale paintings were taken by the artist, or in some cases by a friend “as close as possible to the artist’s viewpoint.”
Kali (1918-1998) was a Polish-American fine arts painter who participated in the Polish Resistance Movement during World War II. She brought her own surrealist style to traditional portraiture. From her new Wikipedia page: “The paintings are brightly colored, often shown with the subject sitting in bust length, with elongated faces, flattened bodies, a patterned element such as part of the clothing, the hands of the subject in classical positioning.”
Contemporary multimedia artist Lisa Oppenheim (born 1975) has exhibited at MoMA, the New Museum and the Royal Academy of Arts. She works primarily in film and photography. From her new Wikipedia page: “In utilizing archival sources, she interrogates and re-appropriates the archival function of narrative-making and -omitting, and how narrative and imagery are intertwined but ultimately separate.”
Mexican interdisciplinary artist Maris Bustamante (born 1949) founded Polvo de Gallina Negra (Black Hen Powder) — the first feminist art collective in Mexico — along with Mónica Mayer. She works in theater, television and cinema. From her new Wikipedia page: “Bustamante and Mayer’s work combined radical social criticism and humour, exemplified by the group’s name: ‘Black Hen Powder – to protect us from the patriarchal magic which makes women disappear.'”
Elise Forrest Harleston
Elise Forrest Harleston (1891-1970) operated a photography studio in Charleston, and was the first female African American photographer in South Carolina. From her new Wikipedia page: “Elise became a part of the artistic community that challenged racist stereotypes of African Americans and her works reflected the image of the “New Negro.”
Ruth Ansel (birthdate un-documented) became the co-art director of Harper’s Bazaar in the 1960s. She went on to be the first female art director at both the New York Times and Vanity Fair. From her new Wikipedia page (quote by Carol Kino): “‘Point to an iconic magazine cover of the last 40 years, and chances are it was designed by Ruth Ansel. Since 1961, when she talked her way into the art department at Harper’s Bazaar, Ansel has defined the look of some of America’s visually influential publications.'”
Born in 1927, Lisl Steiner is an Austrian-American photographer known for her photos of cultural and political figures like Fidel Castro, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Richard Nixon. Lisl’s career began in earnest after her work appeared in Life magazine, and she’s been featured in numerous major publications since. From her new Wikipedia page: “In 1960, she moved to New York and began freelancing for Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, Life, and Associated Press. That year, she photographed Fidel Castro during a famous visit to the United Nations. Her subjects from this time include artist Henri Cartier-Bresson, U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and the state funeral of John F. Kennedy.”
Birgit Skiöld (1923 – 1983) was a Swedish printmaker who ran Print Workshop — which collaborated with artists like Jim Dine, David Hockney, and Dieter Roth. Birgit herself helped establish printmaking as an art form, and was a prolific creator of artwork. From her new Wikipedia page. “Skiöld was a pioneer in championing the status of printmaking as art, and experimenting with techniques including embossing, mixed media, Xerox printing and collage. She was also an early exponent of the livre d’artiste, working on occasion with texts by other famous Fitzrovia residents, past and present.”
Born in 1886, Olga Oppenheimer was a German Expressionist and co-founder of Gereonsklub, a school and art venue in Cologne. Only 10 of her works survive. From her new Wikipedia page: “Oppenheimer was the only female German artist who participated in the Armory Show, which opened in New York City in 1913 and traveled to Boston and Chicago. She contributed a series of six woodcuts entitled Van Zanten’s Happy Time, which was displayed in the same gallery as prints by Edward Munch.”