Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Women's History Inclusion Still Has a Long Way to Go

I write about women in history because I learned little of women's accomplishments as I was growing up. Their history was so absent from my history lessons and books that it never occured to me that there were many women in history who made contributions. Minorities also feel this way. There is a void of historical experience education for women and minorities. I write these articles to try and combat this lack of education and to introduce women to themselves and their past.

I erroneously assumed that girls growing up now didn't grow up with this void. In an era where women executives ran massive companies like eBay and hold positions like Secretary of State, I expected that newly written historical accounts would integrate women rather than rely on sharing their history in their own separate sphere. It seems we still have a ways to go.

Recently I enjoyed a wonderful mini-series developed by the BBC entitled The Impressionists (2006). The year of production is the key, it was released just two years ago. The rendition of the Impressionistic Movement of the late 1800's and the artists who paved the way, include artists Monet, Renoir, Manet, Degas, Cezanne, and Bazille.

The storyline is rich, the characters funny, and the settings interesting but now I feel there is a void. While the movie focused on a fraternal atmosphere between the artists, no mention (that I recall) was made of Mary Cassat, an American born but French Impressionist who was very close to Degas and was invited to participate in their rebellious Salon of the Refused (Salon de Refuses). This public art exhibit was a pivotal break from the tightly held annual exhibit known as the Salon de Paris hosted each year by The Academie, because it allowed young artists with a new vision for art to exhibit their work outside of the traditionally defined Salon de Paris.

Some biographers think there was a very close relationship between Cassat and Degas* and I think this information merits at least a mention of Cassat in the film The Impressionists. I was even more surprised to learn the film was produced by a woman. Naturally the editing process requires that only essential material be included in a story to maintain the pace but Mary Cassat was a key figure in the French Impressionist movement and I would have liked to see her acknowledged in this film. In the interest of including women as contributors rather than simply subjects of history, I wish Cassat's relationship with Degas was included in this film.

Watch a trailer ad for The Impressionists on YouTube.

*Mary Cassat Biography

Allison Frederick believes that Role Modeling is one of the most effective ways to launch a program, improve a product, and personally achieve a higher level of success and goals.

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