Opening on October 9, The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens will present a new exhibition that celebrates the work of some of this country’s pioneering women artists. Women, Art, & Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise, on display through January 3, 2016, showcases the collective of southern artists, developed through a groundbreaking art education program that would become one of America’s most successful art potteries of the 20th century. Nearly one hundred and eighty objects show the breadth of Newcomb’s productivity, from its celebrated pottery, to metalwork, bookbinding, jewelry, and textiles.
Founded at New Orleans’ Tulane University in 1886 by pioneer philanthropist Josephine Newcomb, the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College was America’s first degree-granting coordinate college for women. Not only did Josephine aspire to educate women within the all-male university, she hoped to set them on a path towards financial
independence, both through education and skill.
At a time when the South was reeling from the effects of the Civil War, women’s roles were in flux. War and disease saw women outnumbering men, and the ravages of war still crippled the southern economy. It became clear that women needed employment, either to contribute to their family’s well-being or to be independent. At the 1884-85 World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition held in New Orleans, suffragist Julia Ward Howe advocated for women to produce handcrafted items as a means to support themselves. This idea contributed to the enormous popularity of the arts curriculum when Newcomb
College opened its doors in 1887. Despite their progressive views about the benefits of education for women, Newcomb College and Tulane were like many other institutions of their time period. Neither opened their doors to African American students until 1963.
Article written by Holly Keris