Female Artists Brought Home the Bacon

girl with cat portrait by ellen emmet rand

New exhibit opening at Benton

How do you make your mark as an artist when you have to support your family and don’t get invited to show your work in serious art exhibits because of your gender?

That was the dilemma facing many female artists in the early 20th century. A new exhibit opening March 23 at the Benton Museum of Art on UConn’s Storrs campus explores the issue.

By illustrating books, shooting fashion photography, or painting portraits, these women figured out how to pay the bills and circulate their art to get it in the public eye.

“Work It: Women Artists, Ellen Emmet Rand, and the Business of Seeing” showcases the stories and work of Mary Cassatt, Eudora Welty, and other artists from 1900 to 1940. A large section of the exhibition focuses on Ellen Emmet Rand, of Salisbury, Conn., who was an illustrator for Vogue and supported her family by painting portraits, including one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Benton will hold a much larger exhibit exclusively on Rand in 2018.

The exhibit also contains pieces by:

  • Lois Mailou Jones, a great painter of the Harlem Renaissance who illustrated children’s books
  • Photographer Imogen Cunningham who worked for Vanity Fair, and,
  • Mary Foote, a friend of Rand’s and Carl Jung devotee, who made a living painting portraits.

The exhibit kicks off March 23 with an opening from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Find more information on the Benton Museum website.

Can you relate? Learn more about our new Women & Philanthropy Network, and how you can join an influential group of UConn women dedicated to philanthropy, public service, and transforming lives through scholarship.


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