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None of these women had names

I found myself on the US National Archives looking at photos of Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks, and Amelia Earhart as I started to build a series of artworks of these recognized women. That’s when I came upon another set of images.

I found black and white photos of women from the 1940s. Some were cabbies. Others were photographers. Someone thought it important to document these women and the changing social norms of the time. And that’s when I saw it: none of these women had any names.

Someone found it valuable and important to document these women and this moment in time, but no one found the women themselves important enough to write down their names.

I found myself on the US National Archives looking at photos of Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks, and Amelia Earhart as I started to build a series of artworks of these recognized women. That's when I came upon another set of images.

In that moment I stopped thinking about Frida, Amelia, Rosa or anyone else who we know today as examples of strong public women. I wanted to know more about these unknown, anonymous women.

The series is far from done but has already garnered some attention. My Ruth, my first finished work, was exhibited in a show in Montreal. It was part of the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series – a Canada and US wide competition for artists. You can see the work here:

mixed media portrait, fiber art, stories of women, art by carrie brummer

I began working on one of the first images that captured me: a blond woman with a proud, chin high pose. She looked proud and elegant. As I worked on the underpainting I realized I wanted to do more than paint these women, I wanted to take my time with them and embellish them.

I wanted to give them the time and respect they deserve through my art. I incorporated 23 karat gold leaf and embroidery into the work as a means of showing them that time and honor. I also enjoy the irony of using art materials that are deemed craft, or feminine for these “unimportant” women.

While I worked on the first piece, I began to wonder more about the life of these women. And that’s when it came to me: I wanted to name each woman too. I want to reveal them to the world and give them the names the original documenters found unworthy of their time.

Now I would like to introduce you to meet the everyday, norms changing women that have shaped the people we’ve become today here.

This is just the beginning…

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8 Comments

  1. Jenn C on November 6, 2018 at 11:09 am

    She’s wonderful on so many levels. I love your series concept and how you’re incorporating mixed media elements that so elegantly compliment your beautiful painting.

    • Carrie Brummer on November 6, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Jenn thank you SO much for your kind words. They mean a lot to me! <3

  2. Judy McKenzie Daniels on November 6, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    Your art is telling a story of women of strength in a time of challenge and change and you are indeed honouring them Carrie in a very unique way. Your work also honours the photographer(s) who paused and saw something they wanted to capture. A wonderful series is evolving .. an admirable collaboration of past and present minds and mediums. Congratulations!

    • Carrie Brummer on November 6, 2018 at 4:04 pm

      Thank you Judy! I really appreciate you taking the time to write here and share. 🙂 And I can’t wait to share more of these women with you all as I complete them!

  3. […] of woman who come before us drove this curiosity. And I would have never stumbled upon my Anonymous Women without […]

  4. A Brief History of Embroidery | Carrie Brummer on September 1, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    […] in derogatory ways today, and it can diminish the value of the work. So it only felt natural when I began a series of portraits honoring unsung women to use a material that is also often unsung and […]

  5. Anonymous Woman Process: Ruth | Carrie Brummer on September 23, 2019 at 5:36 am

    […] If you want to learn more about Ruth and the other women of the Anonymous Woman series, get started here. […]

  6. Process: Barbara | Carrie Brummer on October 14, 2019 at 5:45 am

    […] you want to learn more about Barbara and the other women of the Anonymous Woman series, get started here.If you’d like to own this work honoring the legacy of women before us, learn more about the […]

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