Artists Liz Rae Dalton and Kathy Piercy honor the past and question the present with 100WOMEN100YEARS

In 1920, women earned the right to vote in the USA and Canada. It took another 24 years to get that right in France, 51 years to happen in Switzerland and now that Saudi Arabia has granted voting rights to women (2015), women can vote in every country that has elections.

When I mentioned that to my teenage boys, they were astonished. It’s a good sign, and it also shows that it’s important to remember events that happened fairly recently.

Two Canadian artists Liz Rae Dalton  and Kathy Piercy have created a collaborative platform 100WOMEN100YEARS (a two-part series) to honor, remember and question the past and present.

Kathy Piercy (left) and Liz Rae Dalton  (right) at Modern Fuel

The first part Archive is an exhibition, currently on view at Modern Fuel in Kingston, Ontario until October 31, 2020.

This exhibition is a public participatory drawing and text-based exhibition that pairs over 100 drawings of women with their life stories to honor women from all walks of life who have contributed to various families, cultures and societies.

Portraits by Dalton and Piercy

The project began in July 2019, when a stack of historic newspapers arrived in Liz Dalton’s studio. Soon afterwards, Dalton shared this ephemera with artist Kathy Piercy, and the duo began to examine the faces and lives of women captured in the weekly ‘pictorial inserts’ of the New York Times and Montreal Standard. The 100 year old archive revealed the lack of female equality, representation and diversity presented in these male-led publications. They decided to take action and the project was born.

Among those who have been submitted are career women, scientists, doctors, inventors, athletes, artists, teachers, actresses, nurses, writers, activists, grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, and friends spread across diverse cultures and experiences.

I’ve been among the contributors and have been very moved to be able to share the stories of two women of my family history, my grand mother Clotilde (left) and her friend Jenny Alpha (right). Jenny was an actress from Martinique, who now has a place in her name in Paris and she inspired me by her passion, energy and positivity, being on stage in her nineties. My grandmother was creative, spiritual and had to adapt to the hardship of life being a WWII widow at 25. They both were strong and inspiring women.

Laurence de Valmy

With ARCHIVE, the artists ask how these narratives have changed today in the current climate of redress and what has remained the same. The pair feels that the question “how far have we come?” is not for them to answer, but to put forth for women of today so that further perspective on the subject can be added. 

Dalton and Piercy see this exhibit as a direct response to past female erasure, as it presents the lives and achievements of women to a contemporary audience. ARCHIVE is an act of retrieval, honour and remembrance. 

In order to include a diverse group of women in ARCHIVE nominations from the public are still accepted until December 31, 2020 (a nod to 100 years of time since some women in Canada earned the right to vote). Nominations can be done by submitting a name, photo, memory or piece of writing to www.100women100yearsart.com.

Kathy Piercy meets a viewer whose grandmother was nominated to the ‘ARCHIVE’. This project has brought family together to discuss, share stories and remember their aunts, mothers and grandmothers. Coming from all walks of life these women laid the foundations for who we have become. They were strong, resilient, not always perfect, challenged by constraints, and like us they sought lives that were fair, equal, and joyous.

Dalton and Piercy have personally nominated women to ARCHIVE from their own lives and research. For the artists, it has been an incredible process of discovery. The two hope for an even wider response to the theme of female honor and remembrance during the second phase of 100WOMEN100YEARS – Looking Forward.

I can’t wait to follow them on their next project!

Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre @modernfuelarc
Suite 305, 370 King Street W.
Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Open September 12 – October 31, Tuesdays – Saturdays from 12 – 5PM 

More about the artists

Kathy Piercy is a  multidisciplinary artist (H.BFA and B.Ed. from Queen’s University) with a practice that includes painting, sculpture, photography and installation. Her themes and areas of exploration relate to grief as a transformative agent and the complexity of touch as society grapples with the ever-changing human/nonhuman entanglements with technology. Piercy’s background as a radioisotope technician, fashion designer, Chinese brushwork painter and visual arts educator has informed her technique and openness to a range of media.

Liz Rae Dalton (BFA (Hons.) B Ed.) maintains a studio on an island near Kingston, Ontario, Canada with an art practice developed through teaching, creating and exhibiting. Her environmental concerns, paired with her interest in female equality and women’s stories provide impetus for her current work.

Life on the water surrounded by nature makes her a direct witness to climate change. High water, disappearing winter ice, escalating temperatures, algae booms, and species survival are explored in mixed media 2d and 3d installations. Tools and materials poetically suggest themes to the viewer….torches, charring, carving, hot molten beeswax encaustic paint, found materials and shoreline wood become her vocabulary to speak to the viewer about our warming earth. Liz Rae Dalton’s art has been appreciated, collected and exhibited in Canada and the USA.

4 comments

  1. Laurence thank you so much for including us in your blog. It has been an incredible journey for Liz and I and we are so happy that you have been by our side, nominating two important women and sharing their stories. We have all learned so much from all the women in the project and how important it is to continue to honour and remember all women from all walks of life. Everyone has a story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful job these two women have done. They have educated so many of us who did not know how undervalued women were and treated so unequally to the men of their generations. These women were heroes who paved the way for future generations. We still have a signifcant way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

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