A new exhibit is now on view at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art — curated entirely by art history Honors student Hayleigh Stonham ’22.
“Reconstructing Perspectives: Female British Artists from 1880-1930” features work by female artists who broke the mold on social norms of the late 19th century, specifically Louise Jopling, Dorothy Hawksley, and Helen Allingham.
With guidance from OUMA’s Curator of Collections John Daniel Tilford, Stonham obtained several key works for the exhibition from private collections and art galleries.
“The work on this project has taught me how to perform effective negotiations, loan acquisitions, and even the design elements of the exhibition itself,” says Stonham. “I am excited to use the skills and knowledge gained from this to impact the art world and museum life effectively and efficiently.”
Stonham was inspired to curate this exhibit while working as an intern at Oglethorpe’s museum. After researching artist Amy E. Fisher in the museum’s permanent collection, she was surprised to encounter a dearth of personal information about her, despite her relative success as an artist. This begged the question: why do we know so little about women artists? Why aren’t they being remembered in history?
As an Honors student, Stonham’s research for this exhibit was used to inform her thesis, which she presented last week at Oglethorpe’s annual Liberal Arts and Sciences Symposium. In her presentation, Stonham discussed the relationship between the agency of female artists and how such artists are remembered historically.
“Women artists were left to be forgotten to history and the only ones that have had their reputations survive the years have been artists that were well-networked and connected, therefore there is some historical documentation left of them, but even those artists have been lost to the spotlight,” says Stonham. “What has interested me the most about this is the fact that we are in a critical period of history currently and the actions that we take, the actions that historians make, can influence the perspective of the historical narrative.”
The exhibit is on view at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art now through May 22.
“I hope that those visiting the gallery will understand that the while history cannot be changed, there are facts that can be lost. And the works of the artists shown in this gallery, both the men and women, are all important to our understanding of these lost perspectives,” says Stonham.
Watch Stonham’s Honors presentation about her self-curated exhibition here: