From the Permanent Collection: Kansas Women at the Press, 1910-1960
October 21, 2007 – February 17, 2008
Designed to complement “Paths to the Press,” this exhibition featured some of the most active female printmakers in Kansas during the period considered. Drawn from the Beach Museum of Art’s holdings, the exhibition provided an opportunity to assess the nine women represented as individual artists and as a group force in the state’s printmaking history.
Norma Bassatt Hall, Margaret Whittemore, and Sue Jean Covacevich are among those included. These and the other women in the exhibition were active in the eastern half of the state, primarily in Wichita and Topeka. Even though they worked independently, the artists had parallel experiences and connected in real ways. Most came to the medium through formal instruction in art institutions before branching into print-related work in government, commercial design, and teaching.
Several of the artists formed ties through their training and teaching in Kansas. Covacevich, Zona Lorraine Wheeler, Josie Eresch, and Edna Jo Tuttle met after studying with Swedish-born Birger Sandzén at Bethany College in Lindsborg. At Topeka’s Washburn College (Now Washburn University) Mary Huntoon instructed Avis Chitwood and Fern Cooper in printmaking. She continued to support her students by helping them gain print-related positions at Washburn and elsewhere.
The artists also connected as members of national and regional printmaking organizations. Several were members of the Prairie Print Makers, the Kansas-based print society founded in 1930. Norma Bassett Hall was the group’s only female founding member. Huntoon founded the Topeka Print Makers, headquartered in her studio.