Here are publications and websites that might be helpful in teaching about Illinois women artists. Consider augmenting your class commentary and activities with the work and stories of artists closer to home. Sure, you need to talk about Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, show Monet’s Giverny paintings, and Picasso’s Guernica. But what about also describing the artwork of an Illinois artist, someone who lived in your city or your area. Tell her story, show her work. Imagine how engaging it could be for a student to recognize the house the artist lived in, the fields she pictured in her images, the school she attended.
You can also have students make their own artwork in the style of an Illinois woman artist. Creating their own studies will help students understand the techniques and aesthetics of historical art styles, methods, and subjects.
We can help you locate Illinois women artists. Send us an email telling us your Illinois town, and we’ll locate the artist who is nearest to you. Then you can go to the ARTISTS DIRECTORY section of our website to learn what we’ve found out about her. You may want to do a little digging yourself to learn more about her and her time period; please be sure to share what you find with us!
One volume of William Gerdts’ Art Across America: Two Centuries of Regional Painting, 1720-1920 is devoted to art of the South and Midwest. It considers the work of several women artists of Illinois and tells the history of art in the state.
Greenhouse, Wendy and Susan Weininger. Chicago Painting 1895 to 1945: The Bridges Collection (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2005) features 78 paintings by Illinois artists collected by Powell and Barbara Bridges and now part of the permanent collection of the Illinois State Museum.
Kennedy, Elizabeth, ed. Chicago Modern, 1893-1945: Pursuit of the New (Chicago: Terra Foundation for American Art, 2004) is a survey of early modernism by Chicago artists with works in the Terra Foundation of American Art’s collection.
Prince, Sue Ann, ed. The Old Guard and the Avant-Garde: Modernism in Chicago, 1910-1940 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990) brings together the history and the critical reaction to the new developments in art and design, places them in the context of conservative yet innovative Chicago at the turn of the 20th century, and explores the tensions between tradition and innovation.
You’ll find information and resources about Illinois art, history and writing at the sites listed below. Check the LINKS page also. Be sure to look for facts, historical descriptions, and ideas at your local historical society, art center and library. Libraries have often been repositories for local artists’ works. Visit the artist’s home and places she frequented if they are still standing.
Illinois Art History
- this section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue, “Topics in American Art” contains a group of essays and a list of arts organizations concerned with Illinois representational art history
- hundreds of Illinois men and women participated in the New Deal art projects (WPA and FAP) during the 1930s and 1940s and left a legacy of work that documents this period of Illinois art history. The Illinois State Museum’s Fine Arts Collection includes many of their works. The website includes background information, definitions, activities and additional resources
- Western Illinois University’s Federal Art Project Collection was formed in the 1930s when university officials commissioned works through the Public Works of Art Project, and later through the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration (FAP/WPA)
- this essay provides some background, perspectives, and sources on New Deal art; it focuses specifically on mural art, but many of the questions, sources and information could be applied to other forms of artistic expression; the essay suggests three ways to approach the study of New Deal art in Chicago: content analysis (art history), policy (political history) and Chicago-area artists (biography).
- this essay by Patricia Raynor discusses the New Deal murals in post offices
Museum and private collections with works by Illinois women artists (abbreviated list)
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Art Museums in Illinois provides links and listings of art museums, non-profit art organizations and art centers in Illinois; this guide is focused primarily on museums that present the visual fine arts, both contemporary and traditional
- National Museum of Women in the Arts Smithsonian American Art Museum
- Smithsonian Institution Research Information System provides access to information on more than 400,000 artworks in public and private collections worldwide