“We are all of us, unique – each a unique pattern of creativity and if we do not fulfill it, it is lost for all time.”— Martha Graham
Martha Graham (1894-1991) was an American modern dancer and choreographer. Her style, the Graham technique, reshaped American dance and is still taught worldwide. In 1926, she established her own dance company in New York City and developed an innovative, non-traditional technique that spoke to more taboo forms of movement and emotional expression. She danced well into her 70s and choreographed until her death in 1991, leaving the dance world forever changed.
“I have never been able to understand the artist whose image never changes.”—Lee Krasner
Lee Krasner (1908-1984) was one of the first generation Abstract Expressionist painters. Through six decades devoted to art, she continually explored innovative approaches to painting and collage. Lee mostly became known because of her marriage to the gifted, troubled painter Jackson Pollock, but she was an established abstract artist well before she met him. Her engagement in the New York art scene and her long education of art and its history were important to the nourishment of Pollock’s career. They painted side by side in their country home, but after her husband was killed in an automobile accident, Lee devoted the rest of her life to promoting his art and legacy as well as exploring her own abstract painting. Shortly after her own death, she was given a retrospective show at the Museum of Modern Art, an honor bestowed on a small handful of women artists, even to this day. Today her work is considered some of the most significant in the Abstract Expressionist movement.*
*Abstract Expressionism is important because it was the first specifically American movement to achieve international influence and put New York City at the center of the western art world, a role formerly filled by Paris. (wikipeda)
You can check out some of Lee Krasner’s work here.
“All pioneers are considered to be afflicted with moonstruck madness.” —Lucy Maud Montgomery
Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874—1942) was a Canadian novelist, arguably Canada’s most widely read author. Her first novel, Anne of Green Gables (published in 1908), became an instant bestseller and has remained in print for more than a century, making the plucky character of Anne Shirley a mythic icon for imaginative, intelligent young girls all over the world. The Anne of Green Gables series has been translated into at least 36 languages as well as braille, not to mention television and film adaptations. LM Montgomery was financially successful as a writer in her own right, but managed all this while being carrying out the duties expected of a minster’s wife and raising three boys. Montgomery went on to publish 20 novels as well as 530 short stories, 500 poems, and 30 essays. She is revered not only for her charming Anne character, but for putting the smaller parts of Canada on the literary map, boosting interest and tourism for those areas of the country. In 1935, Maud was awarded the esteemed honor of officer of the Order of the British Empire.
“No one and nothing can harm us, child, except what we fear and love.”
― Sigrid Undset
Sigrid Undset (1882 – 1949) was a Norwegian novelist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928 for Kristin Lavransdatter, a trilogy about the life of a Scandinavian woman in the Middle Ages, from birth until death. When Joseph Stalin’s invasion of Finland began the Winter War in 1939, Sigrid donated her Nobel Prize to support the Finnish war effort she fled Norway for the United States because of her opposition Nazi occupation of Norway. Because she had strongly criticized Hitler since the early 1930s and her books were banned in German, she was forced to flee Norway for the United States when the Germans invaded her country. There, she tirelessly pleaded the case of occupied Norway and that of Europe’s Jews in writings, speeches, and interviews. Sigrid Undset’s face is portrayed on the 500 kroner note (Norwegian currency.)
Naziq al-Abed—”Joan of Arc of the Arabs”
Naziq al-Abid (1898-1959) an early Syrian feminist and revolutionary, was known as the “Joan of Arc of the Arabs.” Born into a wealthy family, she traded in her privilege to live a life fighting for the rights of women and the independence of her country. When she was just 20 years old, she founded Noor al-Fayha (Light of Damascus), the city’s first women’s organization (and publication) which provided free classes in English, poetry and religion for Muslim girls. In the Franco-Syrian war, she was the only woman who fought in the Battle of Maysaloun, for which she was made an honorary general of the Syrian army. She also founded the Syrian Red Crescent, an organization dedicated to caring for those who were wounded in war. She also co-founded the Damascene Women’s Awakening Society in 1925, organizing workshops to train displaced and widowed Syrian women in various crafts and promoting female intelligence. Later on, she also founded the Association for Working Women, which lobbied for the basic rights of women in the workforces, such as equal pay and sick days. Throughout her life, she worked toward emancipation for Syrian women and led the then-largest women’s march in Syrian history in 1945. A rebellious woman, driven by her passion for justice, Naziq’s name has gone down in history as one of the most influential women of the modern Arab world.
Though I have found no direct quotes to share, I have found a few about her by others:
“She was a humble person who loved sports and horseback riding. She used to dress like middle-class Damascenes and avoided accessories and ornaments. She was the only woman at that time who wore trousers and boots and carried a whip.”
“Naziq’s family were very modern and open minded compared to the mentality at that time. Even so, they did not always like her behavior. But she did not listen to them. She did what she wanted to do.”
“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
This week is Spring Break for these cute girls…my nieces from Chicago. On their visit to So Cal, they graced the Mission Viejo Library with their presence. Here they are at the Groundbreaking Girls exhibit!
The show is on for another two weeks. Catch it while you can!
100 Civic Center
Mission Viejo, CA 92691
Monday-Thursday 10AM – 9PM
Friday 1PM – 5PM
Saturday 10AM – 5PM
Sunday 12PM – 5PM
“If painting is no longer needed, it seems a pity that some of us are born into the world with such a passion for line and color.”
Mary Cassatt (1844–1926) was an American painter and printmaker. Born into a privileged family, she spent parts of her childhood visiting Europe. At age 16, Mary enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, but she was disappointed in the course offerings and the patronizing tone of the male instructors. She dropped out and moved to Paris, where she could study the works of old masters in the Louvre. On discovering the work of the artist, Edgar Degas, she said: “It changed my life. I saw art then as I wanted to see it.” She soon befriended Degas and began showing her work with the Impressionist Painters. Mary was the only American member of this circle of artists, and she became famous in Europe for her intimate portraits of mothers and children. She was not a mother herself, as she never married, preferring to forge a career for herself, but she was very close with her sister and brother and nieces and nephews, and often used them for models. She painted women as “subjects, not objects,” another idea that made her stand out in her time. When she returned to the States, though her own work was not well known, she Mary encouraged collectors and museums to buy the work of her friends and so introduced a taste for this style to America.
Susan La Flesche Picotte (1865-1915) was the first American Indian woman to become a physician. She was also an active social reformer who worked to discourage drinking on the reservation where she worked as doctor. She was daughter of the chief of her Omaha tribe (both of her parents were of mixed race and wanted her children to live in both the white and Native American worlds. . When she was a child, she experience the poor living conditions and watched a Native American woman die because a white doctor refused to give her care. Susan did move between both worlds, and after her education in Philadelphia, she returned to work at a government boarding school, caring for both white and Native American patients. She strove to change health care for all patients, advocating for better hygiene to fight tuberculosis, a huge contagion at the time.