The Greater Denton Arts Council’s “Forgotten 9,” an exhibition honoring women instructors that helped form arts programs at Texas Woman’s University, opened on Friday Oct. 14.
The “Forgotten 9” exhibition will honor and display art by Dorothy A. LaSelle, Mattie Lee Lacy, Marie Delleney, Mary Marshall, Carlotta Corpron, Edith Brisac, Coreen Spellman, Thetis Lemmon and Marjorie Baltzel.
“The purpose of the ‘Forgotten 9’ exhibition is to highlight these nine women who were art instructors and faculty at Texas Woman’s University, roughly between 1920 and 1970,” exhibition coordinator Jennifer Bates said. “Some of them were before that some of them served the university a little bit after that. Their stories aren’t often told as artists. People will say TWU’s art program is really great and what we have found may be that people don’t know who those women were who started the program.”
The GDAC was contacted by Jack Davis, who has contributed some of his work to the art gallery, because of his current work writing about the art professors at TWU and their work and urged the council to put an exhibition honoring these women. The GDAC already owned pieces by various women, and through work with TWU’s archives and Jack Davis, they put together a distinct collection of art by the professors and their students.
The “Forgotten 9” women were pioneers in the art world at TWU and in Denton. Their work contributed to many TWU staples, such as Mary Marshall, a longtime art department head, helped design the botanical gardens at the university, while Dorothy A. LaSelle instructed the building of the Little Chapel in the Woods. The “Forgotten 9” exhibition also highlights the works of students taught by these women and showcases their studies in various forms of art.
“Some of these women were really well-known artists in their time and maybe people knew their names but were dismissed because they were women,” Bates said. “Some of [the professors]’ letters left behind talk about how their families didn’t care about them all that much or things like that. These stories show that they weren’t really appreciated when they were alive, so we’re trying to get people to appreciate them and who they really are for Denton and TWU”.
Bates went on to explain that the GDAC values pushing forward women and their work. She pointed out that the majority of the staff at the GDAC is all women or femme presenting non-binary people, and therefore it made sense to highlight women in art.
“That is really part of our story, like hey, look at what we’re doing as an arts council and look at the art we’re promoting,” Bates said. “We’re not just promoting men but we’re promoting women as well, and what we liked about this exhibition is that it shows the connection and deep history the arts have in Denton. Denton has always been an arts community. TWU has had a really strong arts program for a really long time, but in this kind of exhibition, we are showcasing how deep that history is and whose stories are told in that history.”
Bates expresses gratitude to TWU’s chancellor, Dr. Carine Feyten, for supporting the GDAC and the TWU visual arts department for their work marketing the exhibition. Bates urges the TWU and Denton community to visit the exhibition at the Patterson-Apple Arts Center, home to the GDAC. The “Forgotten 9” exhibition will be on display until Dec. 17. For more information, visit the Denton Arts website.
Karyme Flores can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.