Fine Arts Lecture Series

LADIES FIRST: Women Who Made Art Modern

Presented by the Arts Council of Moore County and Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities

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Before the 1950s, the barriers to women determined to succeed as professionals in the art world were institutional — few art schools accepted female students — and social — a career outside the home was unthinkable for proper middle-class ladies. Once trained, women confronted a network of art patrons, dealers and critics that was open to men only.

Only the most gifted and persistent women succeeded against these odds. For example, Julia Margaret Cameron is celebrated today as one of the most important Victorian photographers. She was 48 years old and the mother of six children when she learned the cumbersome processes of early photography, but she succeeded in creating the first close-up portraits of her family and friends.

Likewise, modern American artists Eva Hesse and Louise Nevelson introduced new possibilities for sculpture by experimenting with commercial materials like latex and fiberglass or building wall-sized environments from cast-off lumber. Both exploded the ideas of what sculpture could be and opened new realms of possibility. Finally, two Depression era photographers, Dorothea Lange and Margaret Bourke-White competed in the male dominated field of photojournalism and succeeded in capturing images of labor and industry that have become icons of the 1930s. They too have inspired today’s documentary and street photographers with their courage in “following the story” and their unflinching pictures of American families without home or work.

Lecture #1: Thu., March 17, 2016 ~ 10 AM
EVA & LOUISE:  Pioneers of Artistic Determination
Lecturer: Denise Drum Baker

hesse-repetitionLike the heroines of the 1991 film Thelma and Louise, the artists Eva Hesse and Louise Nevelson were rebels. They challenged the system of male domination that characterized the American art scene at mid-20th century and rejected the notion that a work of art was a precious object, suitable for hanging on the living room wall. Both of them investigated the possibilities of unconventional, non-art materials for their sculpture. Hesse worked with industrial or every-day materials like latex, rubberized cheesecloth, metal, and wire mesh to create sculptures that subtly suggested bodies, processes, and moods. Nevelson used salvaged remnants of wood, including baseball bats, milk crates, toilet seats, newel posts and gingerbread carvings, to create mysterious abstract environments. If Hesse was the wunderkind who graduated from the Yale School of Art at 23 and immediately exhibited and sold her work, Nevelson was the grand dame who had her big break at the age of 60 when her constructions were selected for the Museum of Modern Art.

Lecture #2: Thu., April 14, 2016 ~ 10 AM
Julia Margaret Cameron’s Portraits
cameron-julia jackson smallLecturer: Molly Gwinn

When Julian Margaret Cameron began taking pictures of her six children and neighbors on the Isle of Wight in the 1860s, the process of photography was in its infancy. Many of Cameron’s friends were also avid amateur photographers and over time they became her teachers and her subjects, for example, poet Alfred Tennyson, astronomer Sir John Herschel, and the family of Charles Darwin. But Cameron soon outdistanced her teachers with her originality; she transformed the idea of photographic portraiture with her close focus and expressive use of light and shade. Her intent always was to “record the greatness of the inner as well as the features of the outer man.”

Lecture #3: Thu., May 19, 2016 ~ 10 AM
REPORTS FROM THE FIELD: Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourke-White, & the Art of Documentary Photography
Lecturer:  Molly Gwinn

bourke-white selfBoth Lange and Bourke-White produced remarkable photographs of the 1930s as the token women within predominately male organizations, Lange as a field photographer for the government Farm Security Administration and Bourke-White as the premier photojournalist in Henry Luce’s publishing empire. Lange’s subjects represented rural Americans, migrants and sharecroppers, who suffered the harshest effects of the Depression. In a sense, she was the photographer of democracy: she looked at the poor as she did the rich, revealing the intelligence and moral strength of each individual. Bourke-White, on the other hand, captured the power of capitalist America in images of the automotive industry and urban growth.


Denise Drum Baker is an artist and recently retired as professor of visual arts at Sandhills Community College. She earned her Master’s from Appalachian State University. Her list of awards and honors includes Faculty Exchange from The Newry Institute in Northern Ireland; Fulbright Teacher Exchange Scholarship Nominee; and a Distance Learning Instructor for the NC Museum of Art. She most recently completed work on Post Cards Crossing the Atlantic, an exchange project with Irish colleagues demonstrating the lost art of letter-writing.

Dr. Molly Gwinn is an art historian who has presented the spring lecture series in the past and has offered classes at the Center for Creative Retirement at Sandhills Community College. She earned her doctorate from Rutgers University and has taught art history at Rutgers, School of Continuing & Professional Studies at New York University, and Dallas Museum of Art. She is the daughter of Barbara Sutherland, a well-known Southern Pines artist and long-time resident of Penick Village. Molly’s support for Penick continues in her work on the annual Penick Art Show.

COST (per lecture): $11 for ACMC & Weymouth Members / $16 for Nonmembers
(Prices include 6.75% NC Sales Tax.)

All Lectures will be presented at Weymouth Center (555 E. Connecticut Ave., So. Pines).

Space is limited. Please register now with full payment at the Arts Council’s offices (Campbell House, 482 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines) or by calling 910-692-2787.

For additional information, call 910-692-ARTS (2787) or visit

Lecture #2 – Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. by Molly GwinnThomas Hart Benton & Grant Wood: Celebrating the Heartland

Lecture #2 – Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. by Molly Gwinn

Thomas Hart Benton & Grant Wood: Celebrating the Heartland