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Milwaukee Women's Art Library documents today's local artists

Female Artist are being archived in an effort to highlight more of their work.
Gorodenkoff Productions OU
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Female Artist are being archived in an effort to highlight more of their work.

The art world has long been a boy’s club. Despite many women artists working in the field for centuries, many of their stories have been lost to time, as archivists and art enthusiasts have focused on documenting the works of male artists instead. The Milwaukee Women’s Art Library is filling in some of these historical gaps by gathering evidence of local artist’s works and creating a living repository for artists currently working in the city.

Celeste Contreras Skierski is the community ambassador of the Milwaukee Women’s Art Library and Derrick Webb is the head of archives at UW-Milwaukee Libraries. They both advocate for documenting art made by women artists.

While explaining the composition of the art collections Skierski says, "I think a lot of people, including myself, would think that there's artwork in there and, you know, finished composed pieces ... but it's actually the artist papers, and it's really the evidence that these women have organized or have conducted their art careers and art within Milwaukee County."

Webb adds, "Outreach, in general, is a significant component of what we do ... the trick for us as archivists is always to preserve the histories of the folks who don't get documented, so finding women and nonbinary folks and people of different races and religions. Those are kind of the trickier piece and require us to really go out into the community and talk to folks about the importance of preserving history."


Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Rob is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
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