Women in Art

“Sacred Sisters” by Holly Trostle Brigham and “Women in Art: Selections from the Permanent Collection,” including “Material Girl” by Jo Owens Murray (above), are on display in Loretto.

Female artists have taken over Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto.

Two exhibitions, “Sacred Sisters” by Holly Trostle Brigham and “Women in Art: Selections from the Permanent Collection,” are on display through Jan. 19 at the museum on the St. Francis University campus.

Brigham, a Philadelphia resident, is a painter who creates life-sized figures in watercolor that depict historical and mythological women.

“This exhibit displays nuns that had been writers or artists through the eyes of Holly Trostle Brigham,” said Kylea Myers, SAMA’s education administrator.

“Each nun is depicted in the midst of their creative work and also features a relic relevant to each individual nun.”

The exhibition features a reliquary box depicting the life of Hildegard of Bingen. An artist’s book that features most of the work displayed was created in collaboration with award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson.

Myers said Brigham’s work explores feminist narratives through paintings that are enriched by her research into art.

“In this exhibition, we also have a few QR codes to highlight some of Brigham’s creative mindset surrounding her work,” she said.

She said it’s exciting to showcase Brigham’s work because it highlights the creative impact these nuns had on the course of history.

“This exhibition really allows you to explore more into the depths of who these women were and see how they still have a presence in today’s world of art,” Myers said.

“You also get a glimpse into how these women could truly be considered feminist icons for their work.”

Brigham studied art history and Italian at Smith College. She went on to study art history at the graduate level at the University of Pittsburgh and fine art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and then earned her MFA in painting at George Washington University.

She has taught at Pasadena City College, Worcester State College, the Worcester Art Museum and the Baum School of Art.

Myers said the hope is those who see the exhibit will learn more about the women Brigham depicted and their stories.

“Each one depicted was an artist or writer, and Brigham tried to capture that within her own artwork,” she said.

“Nelson tries to give each a voice through poems phrased as prayers.”

“Women in Art: Selections from the Permanent Collection” focuses on American women artists from the 19th century to the present and is a mix of both local and national artists.

Some of the artists featured include Colleen Browning, Eleanor Zygler, Carole A. Feuerman, Joyce Korotkin, Mary Cassatt, Carol A. Feuerman, Helen Gorsuch, Shirley Goldfarb and Alice Neel.

“Holly Trostle Brigham’s work was scheduled to be in the Sullivan Gallery, and we wanted to highlight the importance of female artists, so we looked no farther than our permanent collection to showcase a wide variety of mediums, concepts and talent,” said Jessica Campbell, SAMA’s education coordinator.

The exhibit includes 57 pieces that range from sculpture to mixed media to paintings.

“I went through the permanent collection to choose pieces I felt I haven’t seen before, while I also hand-selected pieces I know and love,” Campbell said. 

“We hope people will take away an appreciation for female artists and this unique perspective from our permanent collection.”

The museum is open to the public free of charge.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.

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