Women artists to be featured at Muscatine Art Center

A series of exhibits at the Muscatine Art Center will celebrate the 19th amendment and women in art. Submitted photo

The 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote will be celebrated in 2020 with the Muscatine Art Center hosting three exhibitions that bring women’s voices to the forefront. All three exhibitions will be on view from Jan. 18 through April 12.

A local committee selected 24 women artists to participate in the “Hard Won, Not Done: Eastern Iowa Women Artist Invitational.” Muscatine Art Center staff coordinated with Cedar Rapids artist Tara Moorman to present “Letters to My Ancestors” and with Susan Lenz of South Carolina to exhibit “The Feminist To Do List.”

The artists selected for the “Hard Won, Not Done” invitational represent a wide range of mediums as well as backgrounds and experiences. Some of the works of art are deeply rooted in tradition while others spotlight current issues, and many both reference the past and voice modern day concerns. The committee included artists from different generations, ethnicities, and races, and also balanced considerations such as urban/rural, within/outside of university setting, and native Iowan/Iowa “transplant” from another state or country.

In conjunction with the “Hard Won, Not Done” exhibition, the Muscatine Art Center will host two panel discussions that will occur at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 9 and at 5:30 p.m. on March 26. In these panel discussions, the artists will share their life and studio experiences as they continue to develop skills and ideas, build community, and navigate a livelihood in the visual arts. Attendees are encouraged to come with questions or to share their own experiences.

A list of panelists for each discussion is provided at www.muscatineartcenter.org. A public reception is scheduled 1:30-3:00 p.m. on April 5.

“Letters to My Ancestors” presents a series of paintings celebrating Tara Moorman’s maternal grandmother’s lineage and inspired by family photos from the 1860s to the 1960s. Visitors to this exhibition can connect to the past and encounter Moorman’s ancestors including Carrie Nation. When looking at family photos, most people have old, faded photographs that capture a fleeting moment in time. Artist Tara Moorman takes her family history a step further with her paintings.

The public is invited to meet Tara Moorman from 1:30-3 p.m. on Jan. 19 hear from the Muscatine “Hard Won, Not Done” committee, and learn about the many Muscatine area activities, events, and celebrations planned for 2020 in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote.

“The Feminist To Do List” is a collection of 42 altered, vintage quilt blocks presented in 10-inch diameter wooden embroidery hoops. Fiber artist Susan Lenz hand stitched call-to-action phrases inspired by the early suffragists and in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. The use of decades-old Sun Bonnet Sue quilt blocks recalls the years of struggle before women were granted the right to vote and serves as a reminder that gender equality is still an ongoing issue. Lenz’s exhibition can be seen in the Stanley Gallery linkage at the Muscatine Art Center.

“As we planned exhibitions and events for 2020, we wanted the Muscatine Art Center to be a gathering place for discussing and considering how far women have come in the last 100 years and what challenges women continue to face,” Melanie Alexander, Director of the Muscatine Art Center, said. “Along the way, our staff has been able to form stronger relationships with women artists living and working in Eastern Iowa.”

The Muscatine Art Center is located at 1314 Mulberry Avenue in Muscatine, Iowa. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday evenings until 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Admission is free. Donations are appreciated. Visit www.muscatineartcenter.org for more information about programs and events and to download a class brochure.