School of the Arts

Making her Mark: Women Printmakers at The Turner

Reimagining Women’s Work to Inspire Change

Beth Van Hoesen, Blouse, 1961. Etching. Gift of Marie & Dr. Stan Felver. © Estate of Beth Van Hoesen / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York
Beth Van Hoesen, Blouse, 1961. Etching. Gift of Marie & Dr. Stan Felver. © Estate of Beth Van Hoesen / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

Historically, preconceived gender roles have limited many women’s lives to the domestic sphere, with evidence of their artistic expression often missing from museum walls.  

The artwork of more than 25 female artists at The Janet Turner Print Museum aims to explore and expose these barriers, rework old narratives and provoke a shift in perspective.  

“Making her Mark: Women Printmakers at The Turner,” generously sponsored by the Chico State Women’s Philanthropy Council, examines the relationship between conventional women’s work and artistic labor. 

 Cooking, cleaning, nurturing and other tasks traditionally characterized as “women’s work” have become worthy artistic subjects, as curator Dr. Rachel Skokowski looks to celebrate and recognize these groundbreaking women artists. 

“I am interested in how women artists have sought to counteract this tradition, whether by reimagining domestic activities as subject matter or by creating artworks that make the labor of printmaking visible, firmly centering the work of women’s hands,” Skokowski said. 

The exhibition will be showcased at The Turner from October 31–December 17. Skokowski will give a curator’s talk at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, November 10, in the ARTS Recital Hall at Chico State, with an opening reception to follow at The Turner. 

“Making her Mark” will consist of more than 30 works, featuring pieces by major 20thand 21st century figures, including Judy Chicago, Sister Mary Corita Kent, Louise Nevelson and Hung Liu, alongside contemporary works by artists at the forefront of printmaking, such as Kara Walker, Orit Hofshi and Tara Donovan. Chico State professors and former students are also represented, as well as a new addition to the Turner collection by important Native American artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. 

Women artists have been marginalized throughout art history and remain underrepresented, said Skokowski. 

“According to statistics from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, a shocking 87% of the works in major museum collections are by men,” Skokowski said. “The contemporary art world is not much better: 92% of galleries represent more men than women.” 

Currently, The Turner houses works by more than 400 women artists, representing about 20% of the collection. Skokowski acknowledges that while The Turner is lucky to have its origins in the collection of Janet Turner, a pioneering woman printmaker who also taught and mentored generations of students at Chico State, “there is always more work to do” to build on Turner’s legacy. 

Skokowski believes the takeaways of the exhibition will not only impress visitors but inspire them to act. 

“I hope this exhibition will help educate visitors on the barriers — both historic and contemporary — faced by women artists and the innovative, inspiring, and powerful art created to overcome them,” she said. 

This exhibition is not only for those knowledgeable about printmaking or interested in the struggles of women artists but for anyone interested in speaking up about issues they care about. The takeaways are endless and individual. 

“I hope the work of these groundbreaking women will inspire you to reflect and ultimately to act,” Skokowski said. “Whatever issues you are passionate about, I hope the work of the women in this exhibition will inspire you to use your voice for change.” 

The exhibition is open to the public noon–4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Admission is free. For more information about The Turner, visit www.csuchico.edu/turner or email turnerinfo@csuchico.edu 

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Story by Alexis Hurley, College of Humanities and Fine Arts/School of the Arts Publicity