Historical Fiction about Women Painters
Chapter 5. Susan Vreeland’s Emily Carr: Inventing a New Rhetoric About Art for Women
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SUSAN VREELAND’S EMILY CARR
Inventing a New Rhetoric About Art for Women
“Traces of women’s lives from the past can be found, but they will stay invisible or vanish anew if we have not words, nor discourse, and finally, no power—with which to articulate them.”
Eunice Lipton, “Representing Sexuality in Women Artists’ Biographies” (92)
The art historical canon, “itself a myth of creativity and gender privilege,” is indifferent to and excludes women artists (Pollock Differencing 9). Feminist efforts to include women artists in the canon, however, have been problematic and ultimately counterproductive. In Differencing the Canon, Griselda Pollock sees the addition of women into the existing canon as unsuccessful, reinforcing the “masculine mastery and power” of the canon’s innate structure (9). Citing the cases of Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, and Georgia O’Keeffe, Pollock observes how these women’s works and life stories have become notorious, sensational commodities, but not part of the canon (9). In order for feminists to intervene effectively in art history, Pollock calls for a new discourse about women that will “difference the canon” (5). This new discourse will identify signs of sexual difference in art made by women (5, 8). Pollock cautions, however, that this new discourse will only be effective if it is initially practiced in a discipline outside academia and mainstream art history: ← 95 | 96 →
If we retreat to the more hospitable domains of interdisciplinary women’s or...
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