The March 12 presentation at the North Branch of the Clinton-Macomb Public Library in Macomb Township detailed stories behind works of women artists featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The March 12 presentation at the North Branch of the Clinton-Macomb Public Library in Macomb Township detailed stories behind works of women artists featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Photo by Sarah Purlee


Clinton-Macomb Public Library offers art presentation for Women’s History Month

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published March 20, 2019

 Connie Corrigan, an interpretive program volunteer at the DIA, gives the presentation.

Connie Corrigan, an interpretive program volunteer at the DIA, gives the presentation.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

Advertisement

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — March is Women’s History Month, a celebration that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.

On March 12, the North Branch of the Clinton-Macomb Public Library in Macomb Township partnered with the Detroit Institute of Arts for “Through Her Eyes: Women Artists in the DIA’s Collection.”

“Through Her Eyes” is part of the “Behind the Seen” program, created in 2013 as a revised version of the museum’s original Speakers Bureau program, which began about 40 years ago.

The event included a presentation by Connie Corrigan, an interpretive program volunteer at the DIA, who spoke of stories behind two dozen works of women’s art featured at the DIA, ranging from the year 1625 to present day.

“Viewing these collections heightens awareness of the creative contributions of women across cultures and time,” an online description of the program states. “It also provides a lens through which to explore issues of gender, relationships between generations, politics, and culture.”

Some of the pieces featured in the presentation were “Flowers in a Glass Vase,” a 1704 painting by Rachel Ruysch; “Minnehaha,” an 1868 sculpture by Edmonia Lewis; and “In the Garden,” a painting from the early 1900s by Mary Cassatt.

Corrigan also showed the oldest painting by a woman at the DIA — a piece from about 1624 titled “Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes,” by Italian Artemisia Gentileschi.

“She was a painter because of her father who was an artist,” she said.

This piece is showcased in the second level of the DIA, in the European: Medieval and Renaissance gallery.

Corrigan said Ruysch’s father was a noted scientist who taught her how to record and observe details, which proved useful in her work. Ruysch’s painting is on the third level in the Dutch Golden Age gallery.

“Women over the years have faced many gender biases in the mainstream fine arts world,” Corrigan said. “They were seldom allowed to get formal training.”

“For Women’s History Month, we wanted to focus on the contributions of women artists and lesser-known works at the DIA,” CMPL North Branch librarian Phil Skeltis said. “We’re not too far from the DIA, but some people don’t have a chance to go down to Detroit to see it.”

He added that the library is always excited about connecting the community to information and culture.

“The DIA is a world-class museum,” he said. “We are very fortunate to have something so great not too far away from us. I think this is a way to get people excited about things that are pretty terrific.”

DIA Regional Public Relations Manager Megan Hawthorne said it is important for the DIA to have this program because, like Skeltis said, not all residents of the region are able to visit the museum in person.

“It is important for us to allow everyone in metro Detroit to experience the history and culture that can be found here,” she said.

Hawthorne added that the presentation brings insight and engagement about the DIA’s collection from the museum to the community.

“This is a subject we thought the public would want to learn about,” Corrigan said. “It’s terribly important to share the DIA with the public; to show it’s not some remote museum.”

Advertisement