In celebration of Women’s History Month this coming March, Arts Monongahela is honoring women in West Virginia’s history with an exhibition and event series. I am honored to be a part of this along with curators Danielle Petrak and Eliza Newland; we are inviting art and event proposals now from individuals, organizations, and collaborations!

As a relatively new West Virginian, there is a lot I don’t know about my new place of residence, especially when it comes to West Virginia history, and even more so with regard to the women of West Virginia history.

I have taken in some here and there—the West Virginia University Libraries held a stellar program of speakers, readings, panels and an exhibit last spring for the 125th anniversary of the graduation of the first woman from WVU, as well as a Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon for women in art earlier this year. Through my graduate studies at WVU in art history, I learned that the art department was founded by a woman! And through my close proximity and visits to the WVU Art Museum and West Virginia and Regional History Center, I learned of many esteemed and successful artists who were women like Blanche Lazzell, Virginia B. Evans and Grace Martin Taylor, among others. Working with WVU’s Watts Museum on two exhibits showcasing West Virginia glass, I learned about the many women who contributed to the state’s glass industry and worker’s rights.



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Outside of the University, I have learned some about West Virginia and Monongalia history through the Morgantown History Museum, and programing at the Monongalia Arts Center.

But still, beyond all of that, I know there are and were women that may slip past those sites and platforms. Or, maybe I just didn’t catch them. Women continue to be surprisingly under and mis-represented in exhibitions, texts and gallery representation nationwide –but I want to know them, I want to know more!

Back in 2011, I started a blog called Les Femmes Folles after an exhibit curated by my mentor Wanda Ewing (1970-2013), an Omaha-based artist who familiarized me with artists I had never heard of even though we lived the same community.  The blog has featured over 800 women around the world, and I have collaboratively curated eight Les Femmes Folles exhibitions of women in art on various themes and published seven (with two forthcoming in 2017) books of art and writing by women. All of this, plus my studies in art history at WVU, has only solidified my mission of helping to shed more light on women in art.

Artist Leslie Norris working in the Art Mon Gallery

So—now—this March, with Arts Monongahela and curators Danielle Petrak and Eliza Newland—we are calling for visual art as well as events, presentations, panels, performances, and readings of all kinds, celebrating a women—both famous and unknown, from the past and present—in West Virginia. Need inspiration? Check this list of famous West Virginians on Wikipedia.   -Or, maybe your organization was founded by a woman, or a woman had a strong impact on the craft or product you or your organization promotes or handles. We encourage collaborations and organization proposals. We aim for this to be community-focused and inclusive and to encourage visitors to experience all that Morgantown has to offer.  You do not need to be a woman to submit!

While we are excited about celebrating Women’s History Month with the Morgantown community, I encourage you to celebrate and seek out women every day! In fact, visit Arts Monongahela now to see an exhibit of Leslie Norris’ prints and zines, up thru January 3 (as seen in photo giving demonstration above!). On December 31, musician Jenny Wilson is hosting a New Year’s Eve party at the gallery; Wilson is currently exhibiting at the Monongalia Arts Center thru Dec. 23.

For more information on the call for proposals, see artsmon.org or email me sallydeskins@yahoo.com.

Recent Exhibition at Arts Mon

Sally Deskins is an artist, writer and curator based in Morgantown. She curated Contemporary Terrain: Glass Artists in West Virginia, currently at the Nutting Gallery in the WVU Erickson Alumni Center, through January 28, 2017, with an artists’ reception Thursday, Jan. 12, 4-6pm.



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