Women Artists on Foot

By: Carole Woodlock  

This paper focuses on how women artists have sought to engage alone in an aesthetic activity of walking and creating as an act of courage and defiance. Beginning with research on the life, writings, and artwork of Emily Brontë, and extending into the research on Canadian women artists who lived in and explored the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the author shares the stories of women artists who went against the grain in their communities and rebuked societal expectations. Stepping into the landscape of the Moors, or Rockies, women artists have courageously acted in defiance of cultural constraints. In this action, they found freedom. Their stories, struggles, images, and visual interpretations had a tremendous impact on me as an artist and educator, as I began to see how these women pioneers engaged with their surroundings and strived to articulate their sense of place in their time. What I saw in these lives lived, was an urgency to make a connection to one’s place, to foster memory and personal identity as women, and significant acts of courage through the creation of stories, images, and the public exhibition of the residue of their female artistic visions. This research promotes a rich discussion on how an inquiry into the lives of women artists from the past can be relevant to a contemporary practice of art making, specifically in regards to issues of agency, identity, memory, and imagination. An experimental-film, “Walking-Woman”, exploring a woman walking for 120 miles across the Moors is also considered.

Art Education, Self-Inquiry, Women, Agency, Identity, Memory, Archives, Research, Walking
The Arts in Social, Political, and Community Life
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Carole Woodlock

Rochester Institute of Technology