Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Today's Women Making History

Making History – Women Artists Today

March is National Women’s History Month, the 8th marked 105 years of the International Women’s Day.
Being an artist, having many friends and associates that are female and artists I was inspired to write about some of those women who are making history today.  We may be someone’s inspiration and yet I want to honor some of those women in our history that have inspired us to become artists. 

Thinking back, on some of the women artists that I studied, admired, and still inspired me to keep creating.
Here are a few that made history and help inspire upcoming artists to make a history of their own.
Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899) Known for her animal painting’s, awarded the Legion of Honor for her works.
Kathe Kollwitz (1867-1945) She, was a powerful printmaker, painter & sculpture. Kollwitz created art during both World Wars.
Friederum Friedericks (1944) Artists Books: incorporating glass, metal, wood and paper into her creations.
Anni Albers (1899-1994) She, was married to Josef Albers, which is how I discovered her work. She was a textile designer, taking weaving in art school as this was the only field offered to women students.

                                    Kathe Kollwitz   Rosa Bonheur   Friederum Friederichs Anni Albers
These inspirational women of yesterday allow me to share some of the current women working in the fields of printmaking, mixed medium, painting, glass, digital photography and fiber. I spoke to a few artists from NOMA gallery, Frederick, MD. I ask them to share a paragraph or two about themselves and their work.

Starting with fiber artist Karin Birch, glass artist Cleo Dunsmore Buchanan, printmaker/installation artist Andrea McCluckey, digital imagery/sculpture Lisa Louise Sheirer and Linda Harrison-Parsons, nature works on paper.

Karin Birch
Before I started school, my, mother taught me how to hand sew clothes for my doll. That moment is crystal clear. From a very early age I was attracted to making and drawing. A few years later I started figure skating, spending hours and hours a day immersed in speed, flying through the air, and drawing perfect circle patterns on the ice using the blades on my feet. Later I went to art school, the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia, concentrating on painting, sculpture and, oddly, paper-making. Also along the way I studied, in various places, ceramics and silver-smithing. I was a traveler and I picked up what I needed as I went. Growing up, my family traveled the U.S. a lot, moving most years, experiencing driving through and camping in vast landscapes and flying over amazing space, particularly in Alaska where I was born. Later in my life I took up backpacking, learning to read topographic maps and following them on foot through wilderness. These very meaningful experiences of space, landscape, movement, making and creating are the underpinnings of how I think in my work.

At age 15, I decided I would be an artist. I am still trying to figure out what that means after some 4 decades of working. After leaving art school, I found myself in my studio with a two-year-old, who was not content to play quietly in the corner while I spent uninterrupted hours painting wall-size paintings, following in the great male canon of art history. It became impossible in fact, and in desperation I took up hand sewing a baby dress which I embroidered with a landscape scene of my new Appalachian mountain surroundings. This act was an epiphany, opening up the direction I have taken ever since, creating my own medium combining stitching and painting, pulling together aspects of 2D and 3D, and Art and Craft. Combining these two mediums, stitching adds the articulation of drawing to the power of painting. This direction gave me an incredible, albeit time consuming, range to work in while building an abstract visual language that is expressive and deeply meaningful.

I am currently working on a solo show entitled “Weather” for NOMA Gallery opening this May.
Parallel in Tandom
Intersecting Bliss

Cleo Dunsmore Buchanan
Cleo studied fine art at Carnegie Mellon. She grew up creating creatures in clay in her mother’s ceramic studio. Cleo created and drove her own art car, wrote eight novels, and has designed jewelry and beads since 1991. In 2003, Cleo bought a hot head and some glass rods, and that was that. She happily tossed aside all other interests in order to devote herself to the glass studio. Cleo has taught at the International Glass Bead Society Gathering in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and at Something Phishy Studio in Massachusetts.  Her wildlife beads have appeared in books and in periodicals like Bead and Button Magazine, BeadStyle, SodaLime Times, The Bead Release, Bead Design Studio, and Lammaga. 


Andrea McCluskey
I have been influenced by so many female artists; Eva Hesse, Ana Mendieta, Nancy Spero, Bridget Riley, the Guerilla Girls, Marina Abramovic, Louise Bourgeois,  Kiki Smith, Agnes Martin, Susan Rothenberg, Kara Walker and many more, but I don’t consider myself a female artist. I am standing on their shoulders looking out at the world. Sometimes my work confronts activities that are largely considered to be female. “Sunnyland” is comprised of a washboard with fibers caught from the rinse cycle of a washing machine. I work in series to create bodies of work that may seem unconnected because the work is strung together by ideas rather than technique or materials. Sunnyland was done when my daughter was born and I was struggling with the added workload of cloth diapers. The Marabout Series: Enough Flowers, The Law of Silence, Two Courages, and the others are relatively small works. I downsized so I could complete work in the limited studio time I had when my daughter was small. I liked that the work could be arranged to fit many gallery configurations. They were reactions to the political climate. Katrina Series is one house whirling through the muddy waters of a different politic. The Fluency series is part installation that puts the viewer into a very tight space, a closet surrounded by mirrors watching a video of a woman reading a text on the sacredness of the environment in pig latin while surrounded by the lushness of the local watershed. Language is important to me. Mark making is my language. I enjoy moving the words around, the marks around to have them take up different spaces in the composition. The compositions are repeated, the marks change.

            Sunneyland                        Katrina III                      The Law of Silence              Fluency-moonlight 1

Lisa Sheirer
 A native of far Western Maryland, Lisa Sheirer is an Associate Professor and Program Manager of Computer Graphics & Photography at Frederick Community College, Frederick, Maryland. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Printmaking from West Virginia University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture from The University of Notre Dame. Ms. Sheirer is known primarily as a digital printmaker - photographer - ceramic sculptor.  Her public art projects include a ceramic mural at Baltimore Washington International Airport commissioned by the MD Department of Transportation and a glass mural installed in the new Western MD Health System lobby. The reddish image is: "Entropic Mandala Series - God's Arc of Safety" 38" x 38" The treeish image with turquoise skulls is: "Entropic Mandala Series - For Keith"
Lisa pushes her work beyond the natural, exploring the energy, lines, and shadow. The play of sun on water is nature’s pixilation. Lisa dissects the scene, creating line which represents energy.
Entropic Mandala Series - For Keith
Entropic Mandale Series-God's Arc of Safety

Linda Harrison-Parsons
A wildlife and nature artist, working to document what is seen today as it may be gone tomorrow. Creating recycled handmade papers working in pastels and oil paints. Observing nature, animals, trees and the land putting these images down on paper is my way of honoring the connection of all life. I travel to observe animals in their natural habitat. I have had the opportunity to go to Africa twice and hope to return again. Being able to teach paper-making to artists and high school students in Zambia was a memory I will hold near. Although I have a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts, studying, learning new things and creating every day is part of my history making.
Teaching paper making at Mukuni Village, Zambia

Blue Rocks, Eagle Feather


These women: past and present work as Artists, creating for today, in hopes of inspiring for tomorrow. To see more of these artists of today you can visit NOMA gallery, 437 N. Market St., Frederick, MD. The web NOMA web site will link you to the individual artist’s sites. or email us at
Information on historical references and artworks came from,,, and

Written by Linda Harrison-Parsons, with permission from Karin Birch, Cleon Dunsmore Buchanan, Andrea McCluskey and Lisa Louise Sheirer to reproduce their words and images.

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