The private world of women in the 19th century was hedged in by consolidation of the family and division of work in both the public and domestic spheres. Women were closed up in the family world as guardians of moral, civic and religious values. The social conditions of the 20th century undoubtedly changed their presence in the fields of work, offering greater alternatives for development. Feminist movements demanded diverse and changing positions over the course of the past century, broadening the private worlds of women. However, the conditions relating to domesticity continue to be an unresolved stage on which enjoyment and debate between women and men are played out.
The private world of women in the 19th century was hedged in by consolidation of the family and division of work in both the public and domestic spheres. Women were closed up in the family world as guardians of moral, civic and religious values. The social conditions of the 20th century undoubtedly changed their presence in the fields of work, offering greater alternatives for development. Feminist movements demanded diverse and changing positions over the course of the past century, broadening the private worlds of women. However, the conditions relating to domesticity continue to be an unresolved stage on which enjoyment and debate between women and men are played out.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Henrietta Muir Edwards studied art in Montreal, New York and Europe, and became a respected painter. This oyster soup tureen set, part of a 14-piece service, was commissioned by the Canadian government for the Canadian Art Exposition at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Edwards was a campaigner for social reform, and her work led to profound changes for the status of women. She was one of five Alberta women, "the Famous Five," who in 1929 won from the Privy Council the ruling that women are persons. "[Regarding the Persons Case] we sought to establish the personal individuality of women. It has been an up-hill fight." -- Henrietta Muir Edwards, 1929
Henrietta Muir Edwards studied art in Montreal, New York and Europe, and became a respected painter. This oyster soup tureen set, part of a 14-piece service, was commissioned by the Canadian government for the Canadian Art Exposition at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Edwards was a campaigner for social reform, and her work led to profound changes for the status of women. She was one of five Alberta women, "the Famous Five," who in 1929 won from the Privy Council the ruling that women are persons. "[Regarding the Persons Case] we sought to establish the personal individuality of women. It has been an up-hill fight." -- Henrietta Muir Edwards, 1929

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Untitled

(Montreal, Quebec, 1849—Fort Macleod, Alberta, 1931). Soup tureen and four bowls, hand-painted porcelain, by Henriette Muir Edwards in 1893.

Henrietta Muir Edwards
Photograph: Glenbow Museum
1893
hand-painted porcelain
© Glenbow Museum


Hazel Foster's quilt is hand-pieced in a Lone Star pattern, tied with crochet yarn, and embroidered with Asian-inspired motifs. Inscriptions record landmark events in Hazel's life – such as her father's and mother's dates of death (1918, 1931). Apart from nurse's training in Calgary from 1909-1912, Foster remained at home for much of her life – helping her mother and caring for her two brothers, while working for a Carstairs physician. After her mother died in 1931, she gave up nursing to assume her mother's household duties full-time. In 1945, Foster moved to Calgary to be the house keeper for priests at St. Joseph's Rectory, where she remained until her retirement five years later.
Hazel Foster's quilt is hand-pieced in a Lone Star pattern, tied with crochet yarn, and embroidered with Asian-inspired motifs. Inscriptions record landmark events in Hazel's life – such as her father's and mother's dates of death (1918, 1931). Apart from nurse's training in Calgary from 1909-1912, Foster remained at home for much of her life – helping her mother and caring for her two brothers, while working for a Carstairs physician. After her mother died in 1931, she gave up nursing to assume her mother's household duties full-time. In 1945, Foster moved to Calgary to be the house keeper for priests at St. Joseph's Rectory, where she remained until her retirement five years later.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Hazel Foster

Hazel Foster (1884—1974). Cotton and wool batt by Hazel Foster.

Hazel Foster (1884—1974)
Glenbow Museum Collection
c. 1931
cotton and wool batt
192.00 x 167.00 cm
© Glenbow Museum


La chaise de paille, reflecting both home and artist’s studio, blurs the line separating still life and interior. This work was done in one of Jeanne Rhéaume’s most prolific phases, just prior to a developing interest in tapestry. The Montreal artist, a member of the Contemporary Art Society, was greatly influenced by Alfred Pellan and signed the Prisme d’Yeux manifesto rejecting the rules of academicism. Renowned for her landscapes, she also painted still life. La chaise de paille is distinguished by a deliberate lack of depth, bold lines and bright colours.
La chaise de paille, reflecting both home and artist’s studio, blurs the line separating still life and interior. This work was done in one of Jeanne Rhéaume’s most prolific phases, just prior to a developing interest in tapestry. The Montreal artist, a member of the Contemporary Art Society, was greatly influenced by Alfred Pellan and signed the Prisme d’Yeux manifesto rejecting the rules of academicism. Renowned for her landscapes, she also painted still life. La chaise de paille is distinguished by a deliberate lack of depth, bold lines and bright colours.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Photograph: Ginette Clément

Jeanne Rhéaume (Montreal, Quebec, 1915—Montreal, Quebec, 2000). Watercolour and gouache on paper by Jeanne Rhéaume.

Jeanne Rhéaume
Photograph: Ginette Clément
1959
watercolour and gouache on paper
98.4 x 68.7 cm
© Musée d'art de Joliette Collection


Kenojuak Ashevak was born in Ikirashaq, Northwest Territories. Her early life was marked with hardship, including her own prolonged illness and hospitalization, and the sudden death of her three children. However, Kenojuak’s move to Cape Dorset in the late 1950s opened the door to an important adventure. She was one of the first women to be involved in the new arts projects, and since then has been one of the most active contributors to the Cape Dorset collective. The bird form is a popular image, and one that Kenojuak particularly favours; despite connections to traditional Inuit narrative and mythology, she just tries to "make something beautiful, that’s all."
Kenojuak Ashevak was born in Ikirashaq, Northwest Territories. Her early life was marked with hardship, including her own prolonged illness and hospitalization, and the sudden death of her three children. However, Kenojuak’s move to Cape Dorset in the late 1950s opened the door to an important adventure. She was one of the first women to be involved in the new arts projects, and since then has been one of the most active contributors to the Cape Dorset collective. The bird form is a popular image, and one that Kenojuak particularly favours; despite connections to traditional Inuit narrative and mythology, she just tries to "make something beautiful, that’s all."

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

stonecut on paper

Kenojuak Ashevak (1927 - ) Stonecut on Paper by Kenojuak Ashevak.

Kenojuak Ashevak
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
1960
stonecut on paper
61.10 x 65.70 cm
© McMichael Canadian Art Collection


Video

The Enchanted Owl

Transcript :
In the past we’ve carved in stone, and drawn on ivory. But this is a new idea. A piece of paper from the outside world, as thin as the shell of a snowbird’s egg.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Glenbow Museum, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Musée d'art de Joliette, Louisiana State Museum

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


"Drawing provided a release from everything in the world."
– Jessie Oonark.

A renowned Inuit artist, Oonark is known for her ability to continually produce new imagery in her work. Married at the young age of 11 or 12, Oonark later gave birth to 13 children, all of whom she supported on her own when her husband died in his forties. In the 1950s, she saw school children drawing, and thought that "she could do better." Encouraged by a biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service, she began drawing, and later learned printmaking techniques. Her art has decorated the offices of the Prime Minister of Canada, and at 64 years old she visited New York to inaugurate a stamp she designed for the United Nations.
"Drawing provided a release from everything in the world."
– Jessie Oonark.

A renowned Inuit artist, Oonark is known for her ability to continually produce new imagery in her work. Married at the young age of 11 or 12, Oonark later gave birth to 13 children, all of whom she supported on her own when her husband died in his forties. In the 1950s, she saw school children drawing, and thought that "she could do better." Encouraged by a biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service, she began drawing, and later learned printmaking techniques. Her art has decorated the offices of the Prime Minister of Canada, and at 64 years old she visited New York to inaugurate a stamp she designed for the United Nations.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Jessie Oonark

Jessie Oonark (1906-1985). Stonecut on paper by Jessie Oonark.

Jessie Oonark
Photo: Glenbow Museum
1973
stonecut on paper
41.50 x 43.70 cm
© Glenbow Museum Collection


Christiane Pflug’s work, in its ordered realism, is reflective of her tragic life plagued by anxiety. Pflug would sit by the window of her Toronto apartment and paint scenes of the outside world. Interior at Night depicts a young girl looking out a window at a street. The distance between the viewer and the back of the girl, the contrast between the lit interior and the dark exterior, and the balanced composition of this tidy existence conveys a menacing uncertainty. The clinical mood of the work further contributes to the viewer’s distressing experience. Pflug’s forté resides in her ability to transform tranquil scenes of ordinary life into an intensely personal and psychologically complex reality.
Christiane Pflug’s work, in its ordered realism, is reflective of her tragic life plagued by anxiety. Pflug would sit by the window of her Toronto apartment and paint scenes of the outside world. Interior at Night depicts a young girl looking out a window at a street. The distance between the viewer and the back of the girl, the contrast between the lit interior and the dark exterior, and the balanced composition of this tidy existence conveys a menacing uncertainty. The clinical mood of the work further contributes to the viewer’s distressing experience. Pflug’s forté resides in her ability to transform tranquil scenes of ordinary life into an intensely personal and psychologically complex reality.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Christiane Pflug

Christiane Pflug (Germany, 1936—Canada, 1972)

Christiane Pflug
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
1965
oil; resin or oil medium on canvas
140.10 x 127.30 cm
© McMichael Canadian Art Collection


Helen Kalvak has made a lasting contribution to Inuit art in Canada. Born on Victoria Island in the Central Arctic, she was witness to the transition of Inuit people’s way of life from that of nomadic hunting culture to a cash economy. A respected angatkok, or shaman, she was trained in Inuit spiritual traditions by her shaman father. She began drawing at the age of 50 and is known for her accomplished drafting abilities. Starting in the 1960s, Kalvak gained a reputation for her prints and wall hangings, many of which depicted childhood memories, and dreams. Like other Inuit women artists, Kalvak was able to generate income for herself through commercial sales of her work.
Helen Kalvak has made a lasting contribution to Inuit art in Canada. Born on Victoria Island in the Central Arctic, she was witness to the transition of Inuit people’s way of life from that of nomadic hunting culture to a cash economy. A respected angatkok, or shaman, she was trained in Inuit spiritual traditions by her shaman father. She began drawing at the age of 50 and is known for her accomplished drafting abilities. Starting in the 1960s, Kalvak gained a reputation for her prints and wall hangings, many of which depicted childhood memories, and dreams. Like other Inuit women artists, Kalvak was able to generate income for herself through commercial sales of her work.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Helen Kalvak

Helen Kalvak (Île Victoria (Nunavut), 1901—Holman (Territoires du Nord-Ouest), 1984). Stonecut on paper by Helen Kalvak.

Helen Kalvak
Photograph: Glenbow Museum
1967
stonecut on paper
32.50 x 40.50 cm
© Glenbow Museum Collection


Irene F. Whittome is an important artist whose career spans several decades in Canadian art. In Canada, she has exhibited in solo shows, including the Musée d’art contemporain, Montreal, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Her work has been seen internationally in solo exhibitions in such countries as France and Germany. Over the years, she has received numerous awards, including the Prix Borduas in 1997. Narcisse incorporates an image of the eye of a figure in the Petrus Christus painting Portrait of a Young Girl, in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin Collection. Whittome often appropriates images and reworks them. This is an important image as it is one of the very first silkscreens she produced.
Irene F. Whittome is an important artist whose career spans several decades in Canadian art. In Canada, she has exhibited in solo shows, including the Musée d’art contemporain, Montreal, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Her work has been seen internationally in solo exhibitions in such countries as France and Germany. Over the years, she has received numerous awards, including the Prix Borduas in 1997. Narcisse incorporates an image of the eye of a figure in the Petrus Christus painting Portrait of a Young Girl, in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin Collection. Whittome often appropriates images and reworks them. This is an important image as it is one of the very first silkscreens she produced.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Irene F. Whittome

Irene F. Whittome (Vancouver, British Columbia, 1942—Montreal, Quebec)

Irene F. Whittome
Photograph: Glenbow Museum
c. 1969
silkscreen on paper
67.7 x 61.3 cm
© SODART 2002 Glenbow Museum Collection. Anonymous donation


In keeping with her time, Pegi Nicol MacLeod developed a personal and innovative style that reflects her interest in modern themes. Her work, full of expression and spontaneity, is characterized by the intensity of colour, metamorphosed forms, rapid movement, and lyrical lines. MacLeod’s urban scenes evoke a sense of vitality and immediacy that is inherent in the modern world. Young Girl at the Window represents the daily activities of communal living of the tenants of an apartment building. The distorted viewpoint, the blending of background with foreground, the lack of focal point, and the compositional chaos animate the work, revealing the artist’s distinct sensibility towards the world around her.
In keeping with her time, Pegi Nicol MacLeod developed a personal and innovative style that reflects her interest in modern themes. Her work, full of expression and spontaneity, is characterized by the intensity of colour, metamorphosed forms, rapid movement, and lyrical lines. MacLeod’s urban scenes evoke a sense of vitality and immediacy that is inherent in the modern world. Young Girl at the Window represents the daily activities of communal living of the tenants of an apartment building. The distorted viewpoint, the blending of background with foreground, the lack of focal point, and the compositional chaos animate the work, revealing the artist’s distinct sensibility towards the world around her.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Pegi Nicol MacLeod

Pegi Nicol MacLeod (Canada, 1904—USA, 1949). Oil painting on canvas by Pegi Nicol MacLeod.

Pegi Nicol MacLeod
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
n.d.
oil on canvas
80.70 x 68.50 cm
© McMichael Canadian Art Collection


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Be conscious of the emotional impact that is caused and shaped by a work of art
  • Question sources of images that are personally relevant or significant to them in contemporary culture
  • Recognize that the formation of a work of art is influenced by the artist’s choice of medium, the time and the culture
  • Analyze works of art with the issue of gender in mind
  • Be aware of the role of women as they relate to their culture
  • Recognize the issues surrounding the history and making of art by women
  • Explain the emergence and meaning of feminism in art and art history
  • Interpret meaning in women’s art and in women’s lives through art

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