Introduction and Inspirations


Study #2 is my inspiration. Adults beginning or continuing art making is my commitment, passions and concern


About Joan Crane

Currently, I am a resident of the south-eastern United States. The region affords me the convenience and opportunity to interview brilliant art historians and other art professionals about the underrepresentation of women in art history.  My current residence, St. Petersburg, Florida, is ranked as the number one arts destination for mid-sized cities in the United States.  St. Petersburg is home to the Museum of Fine Art, The Dali Museum, The Chihuly Museum, The Florida Holocaust Museum, well known galleries, artists, as well as many other extraordinary art worlds nearby.

Study #1 The Underrepresentation of Women in Art History

Study #1


Where are the women? I look at my mother’s collection of over fifty different artists booklets, and I do not see the name of one woman artist.  It is not just my mother’s shelf that displays this gross underrepresentation of gender, but this scarcity in recognition of women artists has been found to exist throughout the world of art history. This study focuses on the underrepresentation of women artists in Western art history courses for adult and higher education learners.

This study exposes some of the gendered tensions within the history of art. The study concludes and recommending instruction that is genuine and authentic through a well designed art history model. By designing a feminist pedagogy model, it replaces the inadequacy of a predefined traditional art history curriculum. A predefined or traditional curriculum may not always be appropriate for all students to learn. This study takes the approach to working with men, and not against men in the construction of a more gender inclusive art history classroom.

 My Life Story

My life started in the warm, relaxed and diverse quiet town of St. Petersburg, Florida.  As a young girl, middle child of six siblings, three boys and three girls, I did not know that I was living in a world where girls were considered inferior to boys. I did not know differently.  Was I in the dark, because I always had strong and positive women role models? As a child, my female role models were my mother, older sisters, aunts, grandmothers, and the family doctor, Dr. Martha. As a young, girl, I thought all women were strong, powerful, successful, intelligent and independent; it seemed normal for me.  I celebrated and accepted the fact that I was a little lady, but I wanted to hurry and grow up to gain the same wonderful attributes possessed by these women in my life. Then, with exposure to reality and life’s awareness, my interpretations of the world are based on personal assumptions.  

It was not until becoming an adult that I realized not all women are strong like the ones I know. Now, with my awareness, I strictly judge people on their own individual character, not their racial category, not with a perceived gender bias, not using class hierarchies or any convenient box that society has fit us. One’s reality exists according to his or her lived experiences and that makes them individuals.  I’d like to believe we can all be drum majors, saints, if we choose, worth knowing, worth saving, or worth something?

Both of my parents were very artistic people and came from a small suburban town outside of Buffalo, New York.  My Mother wanted to become an artist and go to Paris, France after she graduated high school.  My Father was a talented landscape and seascape painter with an enormous amount of artistic skill and potential.  He was a business man and owned a sign company for as long as I can remember. Our home was filled with creative opportunities, original art, and art books.   A strong childhood memory is spending hours tracing from a particular book we had, kept low on the shelf. Whenever I created a piece of art, I received so much praise from my parents, grandmothers, and my older siblings.  In first grade, I remember drawing a picture of a cow, which included udders, spots and eye lashes. My oldest brother, who was a very talented artist, was not afraid to show his sincere amazement at the accuracy, quality and realism of his little sister’s creations. I was happy to impress him. Perhaps it is this type of praise I associate art with grounded and good childhood memories? At this point, art laid a positive, personal foundation, feasible and clear path to my future. 

By the time I was a senior in high school, my passion for art became embedded into my soul. In 12th grade, I received the Scholastic Art award. The award and work were presented on local television and displayed in New York City at the National Scholastic Art Exhibit. Ms. Walker, my high school art teacher, submitted this work for me. She was my favorite and most influential high school teacher. Everything about her is desirable. She is confident, smart, attractive, and she is a very upbeat and a caring person. She is a fantastic motivator and an inspiration to many teenagers in her art classes.  Ms. Walker may be the main reason that I chose studio art as my undergraduate major. 

My Commitment, Passions and Concerns

            After graduating from college with a bachelor degree in studio art, I started a fine art gallery business, Hastings-Ray Gallery, Ltd. in 1997.  The gallery was one of the pinnacles and higher achievements in my life.  I am very proud and grateful of its accomplishments.  The gallery was exactly as I intended; it resembled a quaint gallery in New York City.  The gallery only represented established national and international artists. The artists I exhibited were selected for their artistic abilities and their work’s marketability. Artists were never selected based on their gender, so the ratio was around 50/50.  Giving back to the community was important to me, e.g. donating to charities, associations, and clubs; adopting families of the “empty stocking” program, etc. I gave back to the community in many ways, but secretly the thing I loved best about being a gallery director was being able to surround myself with art and artists, exposing people to the world of art and making a living at the same time.  The gallery stayed open for four years, and then I was forced to close it.  The small town’s art market was very limited and the galleries finances started to eat into my personal money.  Closing the gallery was an emotionally difficult task, to say the least. 

Not wanting to give up on my passion for fine art and I felt the healing phase of closing my gallery had passed, I was ready to get my Masters in Art history.  After being declined entry into University of North Carolina’s (UNC) art history program, I earn a Masters in adult and continuing education at Central Michigan University (CMU) via the campus on Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.  I took this path as a possible way to teach art or art history at a community college or university. My thinking was a Master’s degree would make it possible to gain entry into UNC’s graduate art history program. My plan did not work, but after going through the adult and continuing education master program at CMU, I discovered my love for adult education.  Without abandon my life-long love of art, the master program enabled me to integrate adult and continuing education with an art. As a graduate in adult and continuing education, I can still be creative, and at the same time it lends me the key to empower others.

Where I am Going and Who I am Becoming

In the summer of 2010, I started a fantastic journey, so magnificent one may not believe it to be real. A friend described something that exceeded his expectations and said, “It’s like walking in the desert and you think you are tripping on rocks, but it turns out to be diamonds”. That is exactly how I feel in the path through my research. This journey began with the start of my adult and continuing education doctorate program at National-Louis University in Chicago (NLU). As far as I knew writing a dissertation was going to be arduous, boring, complicated, and consisting of any derogatory adjective. I was wrong.

The realization came to me early on in this journey that the stress of writing a dissertation is untrue. The entire process of this dissertation has been exciting, enriching, enlightening, and includes every enjoyable superlative I can think of.  It has been a pleasure from picking the topic, the data collection, the review of literature, to developing and writing out my findings.

During the course of this qualitative study, the vibrant historical and current important issues of feminism were made known to me. This study has changed my behavior and attitude toward the term “feminist”. Even though I have always been an advocate of women’s rights, I never identified or considered myself to be a “feminist”. After all, I love men, wear make-up and shave my legs and armpits; how can I be a “feminist”? I came to the conclusion I am a feminist indeed!  Before I started this study, I thought, like many people, the term “feminist” had the lingering stigma from the 1970’s. “Feminist” was a pejorative term in my opinion. After all, I was not the crazed bra burning, radical activist, waving signs of anger and rebelling against anything with a ‘Y’ chromosome. Now, I have a great appreciation and understanding for women in this social movement of the 20th Century. These activists, considered the 2nd wave feminist, made tremendous strides for many equal right issues on behalf of women.  It was their tenacity and perseverance that enabled women’s voices to be heard.  Today, I identify myself as a feminist without hesitation.

This journey has set the stage for the rest of my life. While through  pandering to the holds, and the expectations society has placed on me because of my gender. I have gained a renewed, stronger, and concrete self-belief.  The outcome of this study’s perspective created an educational paradigm designed for men and women, side-by-side.  The result is an art history course that provides students with a deeper understanding of what it means to be a woman in the Western art history. 

What I Do and Do Not Know

Currently, I am a resident of the south-eastern United States. The region affords me the convenience and opportunity to interview brilliant art historians and other art professionals about the underrepresentation of women in art history.  My current residence, St. Petersburg, Florida, is ranked as the number one arts destination for mid-sized cities in the United States.  St. Petersburg is home to the Museum of Fine Art, The Dali Museum, The Chihuly Museum, The Florida Holocaust Museum, well known galleries, artists, as well as many other extraordinary art worlds nearby. 

As the end goal of this study, I design an art history classroom model. Along with other resources, I found inspiration from the historians and the artists that were interviewed.  A feminist pedagogy art history model represents both genders of artists in a comfortable learning environment. The model fosters open discourse and critique from the variety of learner’s perspectives. It promotes student’s personal involvement, it links the classroom material to the world out-side, and it is conducive to the diversities of today’s adult learners.

Just as important to what I know, is what I do not know.  I’m not an art historian, nor do I have a background in gender studies. I’m an educator. I have an enthusiastic and relentless desire to know about the past because it brings gender consciousness to the present and future. My lack of expertise in the arena of the history of art may be apparent to historians, and there may be important art historians or sections of history not mentioned within this study. However, my deficiency in art history education did not interfere with the formulating the classroom model. Above all, it allowed me to research this topic more open mindedly, with a fresh perspective that enabled me to explore the salient points objectively. The outcome of this research is a feminist pedagogy; Western art history model is intended for entry-level students.  Because of my personal interest and enthusiasm to learn more about the history of women in art, it was possible to have a genuine, expressive manuscript that included personal significance.  

My Path

A phrase used by Charlie 'tremendous' Jones, a contemporary American motivational speaker explains, “The only two things that change the path of your life are the books you read and the people you meet”.  I agree that books and people are a primary source for change, but I also believe a person’s motivation and drive, be it intrinsic or external, are secondary.  The books that I have read during the literature review portion of my research have had a direct impact on my attitude, beliefs, politics and views on art and society. Through the literature, I have gained new knowledge on the feminist movement, feminist art and artists, the histories of women artist, and the principles and goals of feminist pedagogy.

The people that I have met on this journey have helped me open my eyes to gain a better understanding of the social, economical, and the historical underrepresentation of women artists in history.  The historians I have met during this study have given me insight and explained what worked and what did not work for them in their classrooms, and more importantly, why. Within this study, the historians were intentionally sought out for their rich experiences and desire to improve the inclusion of women artists in art history. The women artists, not only helped me reflect on my own art work and its meaning, but their stories, concerns, trials, tribulations and successes provided useful data in constructing a feminist pedagogical model. Both sets of participants widened and enhanced my views on the discrimination of women in Western art history and meeting them has been transformative. What research I undertake in the future because of these relationships is anxiously anticipated.

It is the desire of this study to gain knowledge of the social, political, religious, personal struggles, and accomplishments women artists experienced throughout art history. The understanding of their contentions and successes allow me the necessary foundation needed to design a feminist pedagogy model for a Western art history classroom. An art history model that presents and includes more women artists is the ultimate aim.

Road Map of the Study

Introduction to the Researcher:

My personal experiences, background, virtues, and aims are told. Why I chose this topic? What do I know and do not know?  What can we expect from the outcome?

 In Chapter 1:  Introduction to the Study

This chapter will explain to the reader the purpose and significance of this study. This chapter presents the background of women in art history, clarifies the meaning of a theoretical framework, and the brief summary of women artist’s social roles throughout Western art history.

In Chapter 2: Literature Review

Provides an overview of the literature reviewed. This literature was an important component of this study. The review helps me to identify streams of knowledge on feminist art, women artists in history, and methods of practice of feminist pedagogy. Within the literature review, I include the images of artwork created by women artists.

In Chapter 3:  Methodology

Presents the research design and explain the methodologies of data collection, process, and the validity of this study. Within this chapter, I introduce the participants.

In Chapter 4: Findings, Interpretation of Data

This chapter presents the themes found within this study. I share selected dialogue from the participants interviewed regarding Women in Art History and Feminist Pedagogy.

Chapter 5: Model Classroom

The model develops by integrating some of the techniques used by the participants. This model creates a gender inclusive art history class.

Chapter 6 Conclusion, Implications and Possibilities for Further Research

Here, the manuscript summarizes its finding, and the research questions are answered. As a result of the study it warrants and discussed further research topics.

Gallery of Artists

Images and a short biography of works produced by women not mentioned in this study. This is only a small sample of women artists underrepresented in Western art history.


An alphabetical list of publications used within this manuscript.

The Appendix: It includes a glossary of terms, abbreviations, the index and my vitae.



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Latest comments

31.10 | 18:33

Great job from Yolanda AND Norma

18.10 | 03:33

The purpose of art is not simply to be shocking. Any homeless streetperson can do that. The purpose of art must be higher and remain higher than the gutter.

11.10 | 12:45

ive didn't read all the articles but what I read are very affective

20.09 | 14:39

There is clearly a need for Women's movement.

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