"Our Foremothers – In Process" will be on display March 3-21 in the Austin Reading Room at the Jereld R. Nicholson Library. The exhibit will feature nine life-sized portraits of women artists painted by Jane Lieber Mays. Short essays by Deanne Beausoleil will accompany the artworks.
An opening lecture and reception featuring Mays and Beausoleil will be held Monday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m. in the library.
Mays, a portrait artist and instructor of drawing at Chemeketa Community College (CCC), and Deanne Beausoleil, instructor of art history at CCC, collaborated on the project. The exhibit explores the collective voice of women artists who are often missing from formal education. It examines the challenges of women who pursue careers in the 21st century and looks to the past for role models. The paintings are based upon self-portraits, portraits and photographs.
Mays, of Newberg, studied at Rockford College and the Cleveland Institute of Art before completing her BFA at the University of Minnesota, and an M.A. at Goddard College. As Mays developed her career as a portrait artist, she grappled with balancing the responsibilities of marriage and motherhood with her career. She began to discover the women artists missing from her formal education including Elisabeth Vigee-LeBrun, Frida Kahlo and Ana Mendieta. In the 1980s, she assembled a personal slide library of historical and contemporary women artists' work, and taught lectures and workshops to raise awareness of women's artistic contributions. In addition to CCC, she has taught at Linfield, the American Academy of Art, the Grand Marais Art Colony and the University of Southern Maine. Her work has been shown across the nation.
Beausoleil began her career by taking art history and film courses at CCC. She earned an M.A. in art history specializing in Dutch 17th century art, graduating suma cum laude, from Savannah College of Art and Design. She first studied women artists in graduate school, and as the mother of an infant, she was intrigued by their ability to retain a sense of self while raising children.
The exhibit is sponsored by the Department of Theatre and Communication Arts, the Department of Art and Visual Culture, Friends of Nicholson Library, the Dean’s Speaker’s Fund and the Gender Studies Program. For more information, contact 503-883-2802.