POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - "Modeling Femininity: Art and the Moral Education of Nineteenth-Century Women" will open in the Prints and Drawings Galleries at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College on Thursday, January 27, 2000. The exhibition will close on March 19, 2000.
"Modeling Femininity" investigates the link between women's education and the moral mission of art. The second of three exhibitions funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, "Modeling Femininity" examines women as both producers and consumers of art in the nineteenth century. It draws from collections housed within the Art Center, most notably from the Martha Reed Sampler Collection and the Magoon Collection.
The Reed Collection contains an array of British and American samplers, the most common female art in the early nineteenth century. A sampler crafted by a schoolgirl was valued not only for the skill it displayed but also for its moral verse, carefully stitched, that announced the young girl's piety.
Samplers were frequently bordered with images of flowers, trees, and birds. Mid-Victorian females, however, were often encouraged to depict the natural world as their primary subject, when painting and drawing overtook needlework as the primary medium for female artistic expression.
This exhibition also explores the integral role art education played at Vassar College during its early years. The images of women from the Magoon Collection offered Vassar's first students moral models, from historical heroines like Joan of Arc and Lady Jane Gray to contemporary domestic managers, and thus provided them with visual templates of the women that the college wished them to become. An illustrated essay and checklist accompany the exhibition.
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is located on the Vassar College campus. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and the gallery is wheelchair accessible. For additional information, call (845) 437-5237 or visit the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center Web site at http://fllac.vassar.edu/. Vassar College is a highly selective, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861. Named the 1999 "College of the Year" by Time Magazine/The Princeton Review, Vassar is celebrating 30 years of coeducation.