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Our Own Work, Our Own Way
On view through May 21, 2023
Columbia Museum of Art
Columbia, South Carolina

“So let us do our own work, and in our own way.”

— Susan B. Anthony to Lucy Stone, October 27, 1857

This exhibition brings together 42 women artists of the 20th century who had connections to the South — including Emma Amos, Beverly Buchanan, Elaine de Kooning, Zelda Fitzgerald, Gwendolyn Knight, and Columbia’s own Laura Spong — while shining a spotlight on several other regional artists. Having faced resistance from the art world for decades, many of these artists are just beginning to receive critical attention. Women artists in the South particularly encountered resistance in their quest to gain parity, especially when their mode of expression was modern in style or subject. Furthermore, contemporary female artists of color faced what Loïs Mailou Jones, also featured in the exhibition, termed the “double handicap” of racism and sexism.

Like their sisters to the north, these Southern women often worked alongside, but in the shadows of, their more celebrated male counterparts. Comprised of artwork from the 1930s to the 1990s, “Our Own Work, Our Own Way” champions a roster of artists whose aesthetic achievements transcended convention and invigorated the South’s modern milieu.

[Image: Nell Blaine, Anemones with Red Cloth, Circa 1961–1962. Oil on canvas, 30 x 18 1/4 inches. As published in: Central to Their Lives: Southern Women Artists in the Johnson Collection. Work on loan: Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina]