Female painters come out of the shadows

Victoria College of Art course features 20th century gems

Paul Peregal

With the world celebrating International Women’s Day this week, the timing of a new course at the Victoria College of Art is rather impeccable.

Great Women Painters of the 20th Century, entering its third week of class today (March 7), is the brainchild of instructor Paul Peregal. A teacher of modern-era painting technique and history at the college, he chose the subject matter as a way to shed light on a largely under-acknowledged area of the arts world.

“What was happening in my classes was that I would include the vast majority of masters of the 20th century, and they were men, but there were many women also (in that era) who weren’t getting quite the coverage that they should have,” he says. “A lot of my students asked me to present more women.”

Peregal touches on a different artist or group of painters each week. Among his subjects are early 20th century artist Pegi Nicol McLeod. She was an award-winning painter in her time, Peregal notes, and gained notoriety through her association with the National Gallery in Ottawa.

“She died tragically at 45 in New York and with the exception of a memorial show (well after her death), she drifted into obscurity,” he says.

Peregal generally lectures about an artist and presents examples of their work, but also touches on “the very philosophy and politics of the times and what influenced them to do these things.”

The tricky thing about teaching a course on relatively unknown artists, he says, is finding background materials.

“When you research these women, very often you find a complete lack of information. By comparison, there’s plenty of books on male painters of the era, but if you start looking around for other names, it’s not easy to get hold of a large catalogue, resumé, or a coffee table book with a wealth of colour reproductions.”

Notable artists such as Emily Carr and Georgia O’Keefe are also covered by the course. Both have distinctive styles that continue to captivate art lovers, unlike some of more overshadowed painters being featured, such as Vanessa Bell (last week’s subject), Alice Neil and Joan Mitchell.

VCA grad Deirdre Kelly, who is enrolled in Peregal’s class, is interested in the modernist movement of the late 19th and early 20th century. She was keen to broaden her knowledge of the work of women artists, as it relates to her own painting.

“I have been interested in people like Emily Carr, but who else was there?” she asks. “I’ll be doing my own research afterward on the topic.”

The college offers the classes in six- or 12-week packages. For more information on the course or any other college offerings, visit www.vca.ca or call 250-598-5422.

Just Posted

At the age of 95, local bowler shows no signs of slowing down

Olive Olmsted has bowled for more than 55 years

Colwood wins Victoria Flower Count for a five-peat

The 43rd annual Flower Count had over three billion blossoms counted in total

Royal Bay junior boys bring back lacrosse banner

The Ravens sent three teams to the provincial championships

Langford fundraiser for kidney disease is a success

Maureen Hobbs thinks B.C. Transplant says it best: “Live life. Pass it on.”

Preschool group helps release fish into Glen Lake

The number of fish released correlates to the number of fish caught per year

Celebrating our transit drivers on their day

March 18 is International Transit Driver Appreciation Day

B.C. cyclist races to first win of the season in New Zealand

Casey Brown captures Enduro title by more than two minutes at Crankworx Rotorua

Notorious Russian troll farm also took swipes at Canadian targets

Targets included oil infrastructure and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Women’s Expo seeks to empower women this weekend

Victoria Women’s Expo set for Saturday and Sunday at Pearkes Recreation Centre

Cirque du Soleil aerialist dies after fall during Florida show

Longtime performer fell while performing in VOLTA

Canada earns second Paralympic Games silver in 20 years

Held 1-0 lead in para hockey game from 12:06 of first to dying seconds of third and lost in overtime

LETTERS: Two views of oil pipeline protests

U.S. and other petroleum-rich countries aren’t cutting production

Canadian Paralympic team picked up record 28 medals

The 55 athletes strong had set a cautious goal of 17 medals for PyeongChang

Canadian comic Mike MacDonald dies at 63

Ottawa-born comedian had performed on David Letterman

Most Read