National Association of Women Artists

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The National Association of Women Artists (NAWA) is a United States organisation for women involved in fine art. It was founded in 1889 as the Women's Art Club, at a time when women did not have parity with men in the National Academy of Design and the Society of American Artists. In 1913 it was renamed National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, and the current name was adopted in 1941.[1]

Its mission statement is:[2]

"The purpose of the Association is to promote culture and education in the visual arts through exhibitions of its member's works, lectures, art demonstrations, scholarships, awards and other educational programs.

The Association shall foster public awareness of, and interest, in works of art with emphasis on fine art created by women. It will encourage new emerging artists through all appropriate means".

The National Association of Women Artists (NAWA), founded in 1889, is the oldest professional women's fine arts organization in the United States, continually providing a forum for women artists to share ideas and exhibit their work. The organization has been promoting and nurturing the work of professional women artists, sponsoring local and national exhibitions, offering merit prizes, lectures and special events for its 850+ membership, and hosting ongoing exhibitions at its headquarters address in NYC. I was invited to the annual meeting and luncheon where Margaret Krug, Senior Lecturer at the Whitney Museum of American Art, spoke about Teaching Materials and the process of writing her recent book, An Artist’s Handbook (reviewed in ART TIMES Jan/Feb ’08 issue). Judith Cantor, outgoing president, spoke about the many activities of the previous year and then introduced the recipients of the Volunteer Awards: Gloria Spevacek. Susan G. Hammond was introduced as the new President and she spoke about the needs of the organization, her hopes for the upcoming year. It was an excellent introduction to her term of office — a “state of what’s to be” speech. After the luncheon we were all invited back to the NAWA office and Gallery for the reception of the members’ group exhibit “Spring into Summer”.[3]

National Association of Women Artists, Inc. 2013 annual meeting and luncheon honored Rhoda Sherbell, fine artist and sculptor and teacher at both the National Academy and The Arts Students League of NY. This organization has been Empowering Women Artists since 1889 and promotes culture and education in the Visual Arts through exhibitions of its member’s works, lectures, art demonstrations, scholarships, awards and other educational programs. They encourage new emerging artists in many ways. The luncheon was very well attended and after the annual meeting and lunch Rhoda gave a very stimulating presentation about her sculpture and paintings. Rhoda teaches at the Art Students League of NY and at the National Academy and has her work in many of the finest museum collections. She told stories, praised N.A.W.A., passed along good advice and wisdom to artists “Be truthful to yourself and your work will be true.” About being a woman artist she said that women should “walk in their own shoes and be strong. It is a tough life for women but we don’t cry about it”. Her work — excellent pastels and several fine bronze heads were on view at the N.A.W.A. gallery. For more about the organization: thenawa.org [4]

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