Students in Jim Terry’s Women in Art seminar class visited Antiques on Wednesday in downtown Columbia yesterday where art specialist Melissa Williams talked about the women who became pioneers in American visual arts.
Williams’ display included a variety of portraits, landscapes and scenes and included an original work by Fidelia Bridges, one of few successful female artists in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The painting is of the bird on a branch that eventually became the inspiration for the iconic winter bird scene she later painted for America’s first Christmas cards.
But it was an oil painting of a young girl by artist Blanche Matthewes that stole the show.
“I love the color palette and the soft, fuzzy edges,” Junior Mokie Blanding said. “And the eyes seem to go on forever.”
Junior Jasmine Taylor also preferred the portrait over others on display, saying she loved the way the light reflected from the muted colors.
Although relatively unknown, Matthewes was one of the first female American artists to have a painting exhibited at the Royal Academy.
Terry’s Seminar: Women in Art explores the contributions women have made to painting, sculpture and architecture from the Renaissance to the present. While she recognized that some might question the practical aspect of such a course, Williams encouraged the students, saying the ability to articulate art is a unique ability.
“Art history is an amazing skill set,” she said. “It’s hard but it means your curiosity triumphs over the fear of hard work.”
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