Art of the New South
You can curl up and read Art of the New South:
Women Artists of Birmingham, 1890-1930 (paper $29.95, cloth $39.95) like a good novel.
The 204-page telling of the stories behind eight memorable
artists details not only the cultural scene emerging with
the founding of Birmingham, but also depicts each woman's
personal expression and journey to her art.
The book, produced by the Birmingham Historical Society,
starts with the story of Caroline Lovell, a bright, innovative
pioneer, known for staging tableaux vivant (paintings come
to life by players in costume). Having studied in New York,
she returned to the newly formed Birmingham to paint watercolors
and miniatures, and to lead the young city's social scene.
You also read about the adventurous Lucille Douglass. "She
must've been an extraordinary extrovert," says Marjorie White,
Birmingham Historical Society Director. "She traveled to Europe,
became an etcher, went on an international lecture circuit,
and left her legacy, a collection of her finest art, to the
Metropolitan Museum of Art." The worlds, told by writer Vickie
Ingham, go on to cover accounts of Lucille's journeys to China
and Cambodia, where she illustrated travel books and depicted
Each woman emerges a personality--and a shaper of the growing
Birmingham and its arts identity. As members of the Birmingham
Art Club (established in 1907 by Della Dryer and others),
the painters deftly rendered their works, traveled widely
to study at noted academies, shared their learnings back home,
and generally instilled in locals (and beyond) a dignity of
art as a calling for female achievers. "Born in the years
following the Civil War--when women were expected to follow
traditional paths--these were professional artists," says
White. "They were not dilettantes--most did not marry and
spent a lifetime as successful artists."
In all, Art of the New South tells of Birmingham's Carrie
Hill, Lucille Douglass, Alice Rumph, Della Dryer, Hannah Elliott,
Caroline Lovell, Carrie Montgomery, and Willie McLaughlin.
"Except for archival records and family collections, little
is known of these women today," continues White. "We pieced
together their lives from the available material and watched
as a portrait of early Birmingham and eight incredible women