KOLAJ LIVE ONLINE
Artists in the Archives: Women in the Archive
Wednesday, 14 December 2022 at 7PM EST (0000 UTC)
Presented in partnership with the Henry Sheldon Museum’s Stewart-Swift Research Center
In Fall 2022 and Spring 2023, Kolaj Institute is presenting a series of Kolaj LIVE Online events in partnership with the Henry Sheldon Museum’s Stewart-Swift Research Center as part of the exhibition, “Artists in the Archives”. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Stewart-Swift Research Center, the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History invited an international network of collage artists to engage with historic material in the archive and to create a folio of collage prints that reflect on the idea of community in a 21st century world. Learn more about the project HERE.
In the past, the history of women’s lives and experiences was marginalized in favor of a “Great Man” approach to history, but in the last fifty years, greater attention to women’s history has produced a rich understanding of women’s lives in the past. Materials relevant to women’s studies are well-represented in the Stewart-Swift Research Center’s collections. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Stewart-Swift Research Center, the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History invited an international network of collage artists to engage with historic material in the archive and to create a folio of collage prints that reflect on the idea of community in a 21st century world. A number of artists focused on the stories of women from the past. Artists pursued their interest in the lives of women. Using letters of women working at textile mills in the 19th century, At the Loom by Illinois-based artist Alexa Frangos speaks to the experience of being forced to labor away from one’s community. Elaine Luther uses a 19th century advertisement for Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound which promised “a positive cure for all female complaints” to draw attention to the historical role women play as healers in the community. A Portrait of Emma Willard by xtine offers a dreamy meditation on the women’s education activist’s life and philosophy. Since 2004, the proportion of women in the archives profession has increased to 71%, a statistic that suggests women are playing a leading role in the preservation and care of history. Vicki Scheele‘s collage is an homage to the community of people who have maintained the Henry Sheldon Museum and the Stewart-Swift Research Center archives throughout its history. Nancy Bernardo draws upon early 20th century photographs of maids and laborers at The Breadloaf Inn to highlight unknown women and men who are integral to the infrastructure of a community. Bernardo is currently working with a group of collage artists to illustrate Kate Chopin’s 1899 early feminist novel, The Awakening.
Join these artists and American Studies Associate Professor Ellery Foutch in a conversation about the representation of women in the archives and the role artists can play in drawing out stories of women’s lives and experiences in the past. This program is supported by Walter Cerf Community Fund and Stewart-Swift Research Center donors.
The panel will be joined by Bernadette Birzer, Archivist for Collection Management and Digital Initiatives at the Newcomb Institute at Tulane University in New Orleans, where the “The Newcomb Archives collects, preserves, and makes available records that document the legacy of Newcomb College and the history of women and gender in the Gulf South. The Nadine Robbert Vorhoff Collection is a non-circulating special collections library devoted to women’s education, prescriptive literature, culinary history, Newcomb authors, gender and sexuality, third-wave feminist zines, and other topics.”
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
Elaine Luther is an independent studio artist with a sense of humor. Her mission is to make art that’s brave, vulnerable and true, and sometimes funny. She uses collage and assemblage to express ideas, feelings, complaints, and protests, in the form of something that people recognize. These forms have included medals, household shrines, tiny houses, and clothing. Based in Chicago, she has been an Advisory Board member for Woman Made Gallery; an ambassador for the Self-Employment in the Arts Conference and President of the Board of the Chicago Metal Arts Guild.
Utilizing cut paper, photographic ephemera and found objects, Alexa Frangos constructs realities that reflect on psychological states and identity. “I am interested in both the tactile nature and transformative power of the photograph,” she wrote. From Chicago, Illinois, Frangos studied Visual Communications and Photography at Washington University in St. Louis before receiving her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She attended law school and practiced law for many years before returning to a full-time art practice.
Vicki Scheele’s work is analog collage using vintage material, photographs, magazines, altered paper, paper transfers, and painted paper. Her life experiences shape her work and frequently engage with narratives of mortality and identity. Now in her 70s, the artist considers herself mainly self-taught and had been practicing collage for over 15 years. She lives and works in Costa Mesa, California.
xtine’s media artwork is image-based and participatory—projects center on women’s stories and experiences, and responds to the social fabric into which they are woven. She relies on remix as a method for artmaking that includes appropriation, juxtaposition, and computation. Originally from Albany, New York, burrough is a Professor and Area Head of Design + Creative Practice in the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at the University of Texas at Dallas, where burrough directs LabSynthE, a laboratory for synthetic and electronic poetry.
Playing off of the concept of “ephemera”, Nancy Bernardo creates two-dimensional, three-dimensional and animated collages with imagery of women and nature from the first half of the 20th century. Her collage pieces refashion these items in order to preserve an aesthetic depth not originally intended in their construction. Bernardo is a practicing artist and graphic designer who currently teaches at University of Rochester in Rochester, New York.
Ellery Foutch is an Associate Professor in the American Studies Program at Middlebury College (Vermont), where she teaches classes on the art and material culture of the United States. After earning her PhD in the History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania, she held postdoctoral teaching fellowships at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and The Courtauld Institute of Art (London). She completed her MA at the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art and her BA at Wellesley College.
Bernadette Floresca Birzer is an Archivist for Collection Management and Digital Preservation at Newcomb Archives and Vorhoff Collection at Tulane University. Professional interests include digital preservation, decolonizing the archives, inclusive and reparative descriptions, and researching feminist, intersectional creators who focus on themes of horror and the abject. As an archivist for a feminist collection, Bernadette has had the pleasure of incorporating and emphasizing art, creativity, and DIY activism into their professional work. Newcomb Archives (NA) collects, preserves, and makes available records that document the legacy of Newcomb College and the history of women and gender in the Gulf South. The Nadine Robbert Vorhoff Collection is a non-circulating special collections library devoted to women’s education, prescriptive literature, culinary history, Newcomb authors, gender and sexuality, third-wave feminist zines, tarot cards, artist’s books, and other topics. NA is open to all, and affiliation with Tulane University (or any institution) is not required to access its collections. For more information, please visit NA’s website at or reach out via EMAIL.