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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, May 31, 2018 3 months ago

Local artist examines role of women in art history

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In her upcoming class at Rollins College, “From Muse to Master: Celebrating Women Artists,” Adrienne Lee will explore the important role that women have played in the art world.
by: Troy Herring Associate Editor

History has never been kind to the women of the art world.

In a generally male-dominated realm, women often have been overshadowed and overlooked — often solely playing the role as an artist’s muse.

With this struggle throughout art history in mind, freelance artist Adrienne Lee is looking to help right the ship her own way as she bring her upcoming class, “From Muse to Master: Celebrating Women Artists,” to those at the Rollins Center for Lifelong Learning.

“In light of a lot of trends in pop culture — I try to stay on top of things like that, because I feel like that is a part of art history and that my goal is to really focus on how the past ties into the present,” Lee said. “I really noticed that it was time to start highlighting a lot of women artists who are typically and unfortunately overlooked throughout art history.

“I teach a class also on Frida Kahlo, the artist from Mexico, and those are some of my most well attended classes and lectures, so I thought I would do a bit more of highlighting women artists,” she said.

Although this new class is only a month long — taking place every Wednesday from June 6 through June 27 — there will be a lot of information packed into each one-and-a-half-hour session, Lee said.

The first session will start with the Middle Ages; the sessions continue to forward through the modern era. Lee said the research she performed for the series was fascinating.

“I found so many (artists) that I was like, ‘Oh great, now I just have to pick a few that I really want highlight and hope that it inspires people to keep researching and finding more and more of these amazing artists,’” Lee said. “I also tried to pick a few that people would recognized, and in our middle session where we talk about impressionism and modern art, we do talk about Mary Cassatt — a well known female impressionist — and we talk about Georgia O’Keeffe a little bit.

“But we also try to tie it in with other information that people may not necessarily know — like in the modern art portion of this we talk about some famous men but also the talent that their wives had,” she said. “They had their own art careers that were overshadowed by the large personalities of their husbands.”

Although Lee is a practicing artist in Central Florida, she graduated with a degree in art history from Florida State University and works as a freelance art historian — researching and giving lectures throughout the area that focuses on art and art history.

Although Lee does lectures on many different topics relating to art history, she really enjoys sharing and educating people on the importance of women in art. It was after one of her lectures when an attendee mentioned that she would be a good fit at the Rollins Center for Lifelong Learning.

The center, which offers a number of courses and certification programs designed for adults age 50 and older, offered Lee a chance to teach a spring class on Kahlo.

“So far I’m loving it, and anyone associated with it has been so helpful and nice,” Lee said. “Their kindness is really touching and helpful, because it makes you feel like you’re a part of this amazing program. I’m hoping to just keep going.”

Lee said she also hopes to schedule some more classes going forward, though right now she is incredibly excited for June’s class.

“My first hope is that they have a whole new appreciation for art in general,” Lee said. “I want people to think that art is always around them at all times — in pop culture, on social media, whatever it is, art is around you all the time.

“I also hope that with Muse to Masters that people start seeking out women artists deliberately,” she said. “There are always more, and you might connect with somebody that you discover on your own and that’s what I always want people to do — keep looking, keep researching.”

Troy Herring is the associate editor at the Winter Park/Maitland Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Mount Olive (BS '12) and the University of Alabama (MA '16)....

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