The role of women artists was critical in the development stages of modern Western art. This exhibition focuses on influential women artists connected to Arizona throughout the late territorial period and early twentieth century. Beginning in approximately 1890, women artists lived and worked in Arizona in increasing numbers. With no major art centers, few patrons, and minimal support for artistic venues, it was difficult for artists to sustain their careers. Yet women artists came and flourished, bringing significant formal art training and professional experience. Arizona’s dramatic landscapes, expansive desert, dramatic quality of light and color, and the long history of the diverse cultures made a strong impression. The artists included in this exhibition were pioneers who shaped popular culture’s perceptions of the American Southwest and influenced generations of modern artists.
This selection of artwork is drawn from a generous gift by the late Frances and Edward Elliott. In 2020, Western Spirit received The Fran and Ed Elliott Southwest Women Artists Collection. The Elliotts were tremendous supporters and collectors of Western women artists. This collection is one of the most significant and extensive donations of artworks by women ever donated to an American institution. Featured is a sampling of artwork from the Elliott gift that includes nearly 200 works by 25 women artists. A more extensive exhibit of the Elliott Collection is scheduled to go on display here at Western Spirit in 2024.