Wofford Hosts Art Exhibition With Works by Southern Women Artists Who Broke Barriers

Pieces of art hanging on a white wall in a museum.
Wofford College

Paintings in the Johnson Collection spanning from the 1890s to the early 1960s have debuted at Spartanburg’s Wofford College.

“Central to Their Lives: Southern Women Artists in the Johnson Collection” is now on exhibition in The Richardson Family Art Museum until Dec. 18.

The series examines the complex challenges faced by southern women artists during a period when women’s social, cultural and political roles were being redefined and reinterpreted. These artists confronted historical gender norms, educational barriers and racism. Regionalism, sisterhood and modernism also influenced some of their work.

“This is a special collection of paintings and this is a unique and fitting moment to continue discussing the contributions of women as this year celebrates the 100th anniversary since the ratification of the 19th Amendment,” says Dr. Youmi Efurd, Wofford’s museum curator. “Some of this work was influenced by that moment and the feelings and events leading to it and some pieces reflect attitudes stemming from that historic step forward.”

The exhibition can be viewed virtually by visiting sites.wofford.edu/virtual-gallery/central-to-their-lives or in-person. The museum is open to the public on Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. Admission is free, but reservations are required 24 hours in advance by calling 864-597-4940 or emailing [email protected]. Masks are required.

Wofford is the fifth stop on the exhibition’s six-state, three-year tour.

The Johnson Collection encompasses 1,200 pieces of art that chronicle the cultural evolution of the American South. It’s based in Spartanburg and is part of the Johnson Group, a diverse family of companies.