On Monday March 8, International Women’s Day, Bay Path University held its fifth annual On the Move Forum to Advance Women in a virtual setting for the first time. To kick off the event a virtual art exhibit was showcased as attendees logged on. In between the slides of impactful art, which can be seen in person on Bay Path’s Longmeadow campus, were equally inspiring quotes by influential women.
“There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.” - Malala Yousafzai
Ashley Pereira G’19, exhibit curator and co-chair of the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Art Subcommittee, shared her thoughts on how the featured art encapsulates Bay Path’s vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion:
Although we should always be celebrating and empowering women, Women’s History Month is a dedicated period to recognize the achievements and contributions of women and an opportunity to promote women. So when Professor Fondon reached out to me due to my role as Co-Chair of the DEI Art Subcommittee and asked if I would be interested in creating a video featuring art at Bay Path for the On the Move event, I immediately said “Yes!” Initially, I was thinking I would just feature art by women. But then as I began to think about the art Bay Path has been collecting, I decided to feature art by women of women. I made this decision because women and especially BIPOC women are grossly underrepresented in the arts.
An analysis was done of 18 major U.S. art museums and it was found that 87% of the artists featured are male and 85% are white. The National Endowment for the Arts reported that even though 48.5% of visual artists in the U.S. are women, they earn 74 cents for every dollar made by male artists. What’s even more disheartening is that women account for only 2% earned of the $196.6 billion that was spent on art at auctions from 2008 to the first half of 2019. (National Museum of Women in the Arts)
With all of this in mind, the least I can do is try to highlight women artists as much as possible which aligns with Bay Path’s DEI efforts to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment.
I knew I wanted to include the digital art recently created by student Cora Swan. She featured five extraordinary women in her exhibit for Black History Month. It then reminded me of the photography done by student Le Nguyen. Le’s work is actually the first collection by a student that the DEI Art Subcommittee exhibited. She created her “Living Art” series for Academic Achievement Day and we approached her and asked if we could feature her work permanently at Bay Path. Bay Path is committed to featuring diverse art in order to create a more inclusive campus environment and it’s especially great to be able to feature the work of some of our own students.
In addition to our student art, local Latinx artist Rosa Ibarra is also featured in the exhibit. Rosa states on her website: “People inspire me, most often assertive women who radiate strength in moments of soft contemplation or while lost in a private thought. I find my muse while observing them in natural poses and imagine backgrounds and colors emerging from their expressions and their beings.” (https://www.rosaibarra.com/about.html).
Another interesting component is that the exhibit features three diverse women, who used three different mediums (digital art, photography, and oil/mixed media on canvas) to celebrate women.
To round out the exhibit and set the starting point for the rest of the program, attendees were left with a quote by one of America’s most treasured women that passed in 2020.
“Women belong in all the places where decisions are made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” - Ruth Bader Ginsburg