Our Own Work, Our Own Way

TJC Gallery, Spartanburg, South Carolina
Feb 5, 2020 – Apr 17, 2020

Parallel to the broader battle early twentieth-century American women waged to overturn the socio-political constraints historically prescribed by men and law, female artists of the era struggled to earn access to and acclaim in the country’s cultural arena. Working in a region that trailed the national arc toward gender equality, Southern women artists routinely encountered resistance in their quest to gain parity, especially when their mode of expression was modern in style or subject.

Curated by Susanna Johnson Shannon and Carter Lee Johnson, Our Own Work, Our Own Way champions a roster of female artists, notable women whose aesthetic achievements transcended convention and invigorated the South’s modern milieu. Dating between 1932 and 1998, several of the objects showcased have roots in international innovation, such as those entries created by Anni Albers, Elaine de Kooning, Fannie Hillsmith, Pat Passlof, and Susan Weil, all of whom were influenced by the Bauhaus-based curriculum of Black Mountain College. Other works—including Mary Callery’s whimsical dog sculpture and Dorothy Kohlhepp’s Cubist nude—are the clear result of European instruction, or instead pay homage to African ancestry, as seen in works on paper by Margaret Burroughs and Loïs Jones. Prevailing modern American trends can be seen in the energetic abstractions of Judith Godwin, Lee Hall, Edith London, and Adele Lemm, as well as a Color Field investigation by Alma Thomas.

On view at TJC Gallery from February 5 to April 17, this exhibition is presented in honor of the historic milestones being observed in the United States this year, including the centennial of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment guaranteeing women's constitutional right to vote as well as the two-hundredth anniversary of Susan B. Anthony's birth in 1820.

TJC Gallery's 'Conversation with Jeanet Dreskin,' originally scheduled for Thursday, March 26, has been cancelled. The public is welcome to view Dreskin's work alongside her fellow modernist women artists in TJC Gallery's current exhibition Our Own Work, Our Own Way during regular gallery hours: Wednesday through Friday and the first Saturday of the month from 12-4pm.

On Thursday, April 16 at 6:30pm, Dr. Melissa Walker will lead a gallery talk on Our Own Work, Our Own Way. The event, which is free and open to the public, is a part of the monthly Spartanburg ArtWalk.