WOMEN IN ART. BREAKING THE INVISIBILITY LOOP

Could you name five European women artists? How many men artists can you name? Do you think this great difference is directly proportional to the importance of women in art? What can we deduce from this fact? 

No doubt school reflects society, and the lack of references to women artists in early education is notable. However, society also reflects school, and introducing women artists into the curriculum will, therefore, give the opportunity of breaking this invisibility loop. On the other hand, throughout modern art history, women had no right to professional fulfilment via the conventional male artists’ paths, and this fact gave women the freedom to experiment with new materials and media. That is why, thanks to the WIA project, bringing in European women artists in early education did not only promote the European cultural heritage and the equality right established in the Fundamental Rights of the European Union (1) but also broadened teachers and pupils’ knowledge on techniques and artistic approaches.

In this context, the WIA project has introduced the examples of European women artists into primary education through the arts curricula, putting into value their works and showing pupils, teachers and all agents in contact with the project the real importance their works have had in the history of art. WIA has broken the invisibility loop.

Simultaneously, throughout the development of the project pupils and teachers have dealt with a great diversity of techniques and art approaches, broadening their knowledge in the art field working on minor arts and plastic techniques sometimes undervalued by an uninformed public 

In conclusion, WIA project has developed key competencies in teachers and pupils aged 10-12 through visual and plastic art education. The project has contributed to raising awareness of the importance of Europe’s artistic heritage, promoting gender equality and broadening the participants’ knowledge of less common art techniques and approaches. 

The project involved three Primary Education Schools, in Bari, (Italy), Florina (Greece), Luboń (Poland) and Valencia (Spain) as coordinator. With a duration of two years (plus a year extension due to Covid)  it included a short-term staff training event, three short-term exchanges of pupils and long-term activities (one was suspended due to Covid) which will produce a valuable and reproducible pedagogical art material, which can be found and easy to download at the project’s website. 

 SHORT-TERM STAFF TRAINING EVENT. 

Different meetings were held in order to talk about project-based learning methodology, arts in the Primary Education system in each country, activities that were usually put into practise in the arts class and the weight of the subject in the national curriculum. Conclusions from these meetings revalidated the study of needs exposed in the project’s proposal.

An opening ceremony was organized at the IVAM (Institut Valencià d’Art Modern) with the assistance of a team of experts from the museum itself and other entities, politics, art teachers from several schools and media. As well as the IVAM, the Faculty of Fine Arts welcomed the WIA team and gave us the opportunity to meet and share experiences with the Faculty Dean.

SHORT-TERM EXCHANGES OF PUPILS. 

Pupils got to know the art of national and/or local female artists from the host country and other European female artists, and be familiar with their techniques or art approaches through two kinds of activities. 

On the one hand, through the learning and motivation activities, pupils acquired art knowledge and motivation towards the subject, these activities included: visits to museums, art university faculties and local artists ateliers, meetings with art related agents and techniques and experimentation workshops. 

On the other hand, the action activities comprehended the students’ presentation of the European female artists they have studied and worked on at their schools and the explanation and exhibition of the works, both tasks created during the long term activities. 

Back in their countries, participants conducted several  laboratories on the knowledge acquired and transmitted all their feelings and non-academic apprenticeship gained thanks to the mobility experience.

LONG-TERM ACTIVITIES. 

Pupils learned about European female artists and broadened their art techniques knowledge. Teachers designed specific art lessons based on European Female artists which students worked on and the results of these activities, their pieces of art, were exhibited in museums or cultural centers. The didactic material created from these activities is a valuable source for other educational professionals who will to achieve the WIA project objectives in their schools.

As a result of WIA project, apart from developing the key competencies in teachers and pupils involved in the project, it has also facilitated art teaching professionals work, as we face an irrefutable difficulty to find art lessons to work on female European artists, providing them with examples of accessible activities with reachable objectives for Primary Education.

The essence of the project will be maintained in time as it deals with an eludible future for education. Its dissemination ensures the project’s results will perdure and expand, not only in the involved schools programmes as it helps to include European women artists in any national art curricula.

 (1) “CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION (2000/C 364/01)” CHAPTER III on EQUALITY, Article 23, “Equality between men and women Equality. between men and women must be ensured in all areas, including employment, work, and pay. The principle of equality shall not prevent the maintenance or adoption of measures providing for specific advantages in favour of the under-represented sex.”