Rosalind Franklin

“Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.”—Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin (1920 – 1958) was an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer whose work provided key insights into DNA structure.

Artists note: The day I painted Rosalind was a very important day to our family, the third anniversary of the accident that led to my husband’s death as well as the 9th month anniversary since the day he died. I wanted to paint someone in tribute to him. Whenever I’d see a photo of Rosalind Franklin, I thought she looked a lot like Vernon in the face…and they were both British. I love the thoughtful look on her face…even in photographs, she comes across (to me) as very intelligent. He was the same way.

 

Maria Tallchief

“I think it is an innate quality that Indians have to dance. They dance when they are happy, they dance when they are sad. They dance when they get married, they dance when someone dies.”—Maria Tallchief

Maria Tallchief (1925-2013) was a Native American ballerina.  In a field dominated  by Russian dancers, Maria danced her way through racial and cultural barriers to become one of the country’s leading ballerinas from the 1940 to 1960s —and one of the only Native Americans She became America’s first prima ballerina at the New York City Ballet, and held that title for 13 years, touring the world and becoming an international star. When she was older, she turned to teaching, founding and becoming artistic director of the Chicago City Ballet. She was widely praised through her life for her precision and musicality, something that she always attributed to her Osage heritage.

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

‘The more we sweat in peace the less we bleed in war.”—Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (1990-1990) was an Indian diplomat and  the first woman to serve as president of the UN General Assembly.

“Education is not merely a means for earning a living or an instrument for the acquisition of wealth. It is an initiation into life of spirit, a training of the human soul in the pursuit of truth and the practice of virtue.”—Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

 

Clara Rockmore

“A lot of trial and error went into it, but the theremin saved my musical sanity by giving me an outlet in music.”  — Clara Rockmore

Clara Rockmore (1911-1998) was a Lithuanian musician who became the most famous and accomplished performer of the electronic instrument, the theremin. As a child, Clara had been a violin prodigy, admitted to the Imperial Conservatory of Saint Petersburg at the age of five. Though she was poised for a life as a professional violinist, tendinitis in her bow arm (caused by childhood malnutrition) forced her to abandon the instrument. After her Jewish family fled Russia to live in America, Clara met another immigrant, Léon Theremin, who had invented the self-named theremin. With her refined violin skills, she became the most prominent theremin player, performing widely, bringing attention to the strange instrument, and helping Leon improve his invention. While the theremin is mostly known for spooky sounds used in vintage science fiction movies, under Clara’s control, it sounded like a classical stringed instrument or even a singing voice.

Anni Albers

“Being creative is not so much the desire to do something as the listening to that which wants to be done: the dictation of the materials.”

—Anni Albers

Anni Albers (1899 – 1994) was a German textile artist and printmaker. She is perhaps the best known textile artist of the 20th century. Rebelling against her comfortable upbringing by choosing to become an artist, she attended the modernist Bauhaus school, where students lived with challenging and impoverished conditions. For a woman, there there were very few options for further study after the foundation level so she entered the woman’s weaving workshop, but she quickly embraced the process and materials of an art form that she would come to revolutionize.  While at the Bauhaus, she met her husband, Josef Albers, who would become a master instructor at the school as well as one of the foremost artist/educators in the world. Anni eventually became the head of the Bauhaus weaving workshop herself.

When the Nazi party pressured the school to close (which it did a year later) the couple were invited to move to America and teach at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Though the Albers had never lived there, they embraced their new chapter of life, sharing their understanding of modernism and art to a new generation of American students. Over the years, they continued to make their own art and collect others’, rarely making work together but always encouraging each other’s creativity with deep understanding.

In 1949, Anni Albers became the first designer to have a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Albers’s design exhibition at MoMA began in the fall and then toured the US from 1951 until 1953, establishing her as one of the most important designers of the day. Through her long life, she continued in her passion for design as she wrote books and moved into the field of printmaking. She is credited for establishing Design History as a legitimate area of academic study.

Artist’s Note:  Did you know that today is National Widow’s Day? Neither did I, till a friend let me know. Since I’m a widow myself, I thought I’d look up “widows in the art world” for my painting inspiration. Anni’s name came up. Josef (who was 11 years older than his wife) died in 1976, leaving Anni as a widow for 18 years. The two of them were famously close colleagues, having met in art school when they were young, enjoying a deep intellectual understanding with each other. I didn’t meet my own husband till I was 35 and he was 40, but we had both been educated in our own art colleges, and were still making when we met…and then, of course, after. I recognize the closeness of having two like-minded individuals making a life together. Especially, I think, as artists, its a rare thing. And yet, they weren’t making things together. They each had their own area of interest. My parents are like that too. My dad is a painter and my mom is a printmaker…and I admire the together/apartness of choosing to live that way as a couple. Like Josef, who developed two important alphabets through the Bauhaus, Vernon was a type designer too. I miss him. That’s why I chose to paint this picture from a photograph of Anni and Josef together. I imagine they were intrinsically entwined.

Georgia OKeeffe

Eugenie Clark

 

“I don’t get philosophical. Love fish. Love sharks. Keep the water and their habitats as clean and protected as possible.”—Eugenie Clark

Dr. Eugenie Clark (1922-2015) known as the  “Shark Lady” was a Japanese-American ichthyologist and oceanographer noted for her research on poisonous fishes of the tropical seas and on the behavior of sharks, who’s frightening reputation she worked tirelessly to improve in the public eye. Among the many accomplishments of her long and enthusiastic marine biology career, she learned to free dive as well as scuba dive, discovered several fish species, became the first person to train sharks, published books and papers, and founded the MOTE Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Florida, which is still growing as a research institute after 60 years. She was a life-long teacher, world-traveller and researcher, sharing her passion for ocean-life and conservation. She died at the age of 92,  just months after her final dive and weeks after her last paper was published, openly grateful for living a life in the ocean, doing what she loved most. She said: “I’ve done it all, but mainly I’ve enjoyed studying fish and being underwater with them, being in their natural habitat, looking at the fish and the fish looking at me.”

It’s Earth Day, 2017! Lets remember the oceans and all the life therein are part of our world as well.

Juliette Gordon Low

“The work of today is the history of tomorrow and we are its makers.” —Juliette Gordon Low

Juliette Gordon Low (1860-1927) was an American philanthropist and the founder of the Girl Scouts of America. As a girl born into some privilege, she was independent-minded, adventurous, artistic, curious and compassionate. She got an education and also married a wealthy man. Unfortunately, the marriage was unhappy and ruinous—which gave Juliette reason to create a great support network, which would help her later when she began her work with girls. After her husband died, she went to England, where she met with Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts in 1912. The same year, she established the Girl Scouts in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia. From her first troop of 18 culturally and ethnically diverse girls to the millions of members and alumnae today, Girl Scouts has invited all girls (including those with disabilities) to grow in their potential and leadership skills. In 2012, Juliette was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the USA for her “remarkable vision and dedication to empowering girls everywhere.”

“My purpose… to go on with my heart and soul, devoting all my energies to Girl Scouts, and heart and hand with them, we will make our lives and the lives of the future girls happy, healthy and holy.”—Juliette Gordon Low

 

 

Bessie Coleman

The air is the only place free from prejudice.”— Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman (1892 – 1926) was an American civil aviator. She was the first female pilot of African American descent and the first woman of Native American descent to hold a pilot license. She was also the first person of African American and Native American descent to hold an international pilot license. Bessie would only perform if the crowds were desegregated and entered thru the same gates.

Maria Goeppert-Mayer

“Winning the prize wasn’t half as exciting as doing the work itself.”—Maria Goeppert-Mayer

Maria Goeppert-Mayer ( 1906 – 1972) was a German-born American theoretical physicist.  Born into a family of academics, Maria’s goal was determined to become the seventh professor in her family.  After many years working in the field, often unpaid, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for developing the nuclear shell model of the atomic nucleus. She was the second woman, after Marie Curie, to ever receive the award. Maria was often asked why girls needed to study science. Sometimes she answered with a counter question: “Do girls only have to learn how to read just to study cook books?”