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GDAC’s ‘The Forgotten 9’ exhibit highlights female Denton artists

GDAC’s ‘The Forgotten 9’ exhibit highlights female Denton artists

GDAC’s ‘The Forgotten 9’ exhibit highlights female Denton artists
November 12
12:00 2022

The Little Chapel-in-the-Woods, located on the edge of Texas Woman’s University’s campus, was created in 1939 with the effort of over 300 art students and is an achievement of American male architect O’Neil Ford.

The credit also belongs to one of “The Forgotten 9,” Dorothy “Toni” LaSalle, who supervised the entirety of the construction – from glasswork to metal forgery.

“I grew up knowing about Little Chapel,” said Jennifer Bates, Denton native and Greater Denton Arts Council exhibitions coordinator. “My aunt got married at Little Chapel, and we found things [when researching, that indicated] Toni was the supervisor behind everyone who built the stain glass windows, carved the pews [and] did the metal work for the cross on the alter.”

LaSalle is one of the nine women in the GDAC’s “Forgotten 9” exhibit whose works are being showcased for their influence and contributions to Denton. Bates believes this exhibit can give these women the credit they deserve that they did not get before death.

I did the initial research [and] I went through the TWU archive because it could’ve been a situation where there’s just no information out there, or we’ll start to [hit] dead ends because — these women — their stories weren’t written down,” Bates said.

D. Jack Davis, emeritus professor of art at the university and former director of the North Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts, presented the GDAC with the idea for the exhibit. Bates said Davis was inspired by a Dallas art show he saw in the ’90s called the “Dallas Nine,” which featured the work of nine male artists.

Exhibition Curator Jennifer Bates, speaks on their own meaning of the exhibit amongst
various artworks in “The Forgotten Nine” exhibit on Nov. 4, 2022. Photo by Genevieve Kaufmann

Jack was like, ‘I know nine women from Denton who are better artists than these men,'” Bates said.

Bates, an artist themself, loves the idea of taking something pre-made to create their own project.

“I’m not good at painting or drawing, but I wanted to be able to tell stories,” Bates said. “I really liked taking something else and recreating it and making something new with it.”

The exhibit paints a picture of the past conditions women experienced as the 20th century became more progressive. Art education junior Kaci Martin believes women are taken seriously in teaching because it is now a primarily female-dominated career

“I wish to teach [art] foundations courses, as it introduces students to art in a way that isn’t too critical or ‘correct’ in any way,” Martin said. “I think that art teachers, in general, are really important to the art world, as [they open] the mind of students. Art is an important part of our society in many ways.”

“The Forgotten 9” exhibit aims to offer viewers a look back into the past and the artwork made by silently influential women.

“Each woman has a unique story,” said Maegan Kirschner, TWU Master of Fine Arts candidate and GDAC intern. “I find myself wishing I could sit down and have afternoon tea with them, and chat about life and art. This project was perhaps the most important thing I have ever researched because these women were the foundation to the current TWU art program.”

Bates, whose work is currently on display at the GDAC’s “The Women, Art and Technology: Ornament and Adornment” exhibit, said while getting young women interested in STEM-related fields is important, the arts are also culturally significant.

“We should also be encouraging young girls to get interested in art — especially the art that’s not typically seen as women’s art,” Bates said.

The “Forgotten 9” exhibit is available to view until Dec. 17. Kirschner wishes for others to visit it to learn more about the TWU art department and how it was a vital place for art education.

“These women created a lasting foundation and a place for true feminist art to stand out and be appreciated,” Kirschner said.

Featured Image: The “The Forgotten Nine” Exhibit features an overview of various pieces of art on Nov. 4, 2022. Photo by Genevieve Kaufmann

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Gianna Ortner-Findlay

Gianna Ortner-Findlay

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