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Website of the Week — Intimate Circles: American Women in the Arts

  • Faith Lapidus

Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations. Our web guide is Faith Lapidus.

March is Women's History Month, and the theme this year is "Women's Art: Women's Vision," so for our last featured website this month, we highlight Intimate Circles, a site focusing on American women in the arts and the links that connect them. Nancy Kuhl calls them 'circles of friends.'

KUHL: "Groups of people in similar places or who crossed paths in similar places or in the same place, influenced one another. So that when folks who moved from Chicago to New York to Paris, as some of the women did, the women that they met and the artists that they met along that path, all of those circles of artist friends, their circle in Chicago then sort of bleeds into and is also influencing and influenced by similar groups of artists in New York and elsewhere."

Kuhl — an associate curator at Yale's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library — says she took the most inclusive approach possible in deciding who could be considered a "woman in the arts." She ended up with 61 women...

KUHL: "Everything from the most famous writers and performers to behind-the-scenes people who you might not expect, people like art critics and historians, patrons, women who hosted salons, theatrical producers, agents, translators, all of those what might be considered secondary contributions, but these are really crucial to the fabric of the sort of whole work of arts in this country, and especially at a period of some of the most exciting and radical changes in the arts."

Covering the period from the late 19th century through the mid-twentieth, the site organizes the women into overlapping circles by their profession and where they lived and worked. Clicking on a name brings up a short biography and photos of the woman. Kuhl says an important part of the website is the section of essays that help put the artists — and their intersecting and intimate circles — into context.

KUHL: "Looking at the group from the Southwest, how the photographer Anne Brigman was connected to Mabel Dodge Luhan who was a writer and a very important salon hostess and how those two women might be connected to Georgia O'Keefe, a painter who you know was in New York and moved to the Southwest later. And how these people connect to some people whose names you might not recognize, like Mary Foote who was a portrait painter, and Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant who was a writer as well."

Meet those artists and other American women who helped shape culture and arts in their era, and in our own, at beinecke.library.yale.edu/awia/ or get the link from our site, voanews.com/ourworld.

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