Cool Classes: Empowering women one art piece at a time

By: Adriana Avila, Staff Reporter | Photo By: Scott M. Roberts

“Cool Classes” is a feature which focuses on an inter­esting program or class at CNM. To nominate a class or program, send an email to

The Women in Art class centers on an important historical subject that should not be forgotten, said full-time CHSS instructor Danielle Miller.

Students get excited by the Art History 2200 class because she is excited about the sub­ject matter as an artist, she said.

“It’s a class that very specifically focuses on the topic of women and individual arts,” said Miller. “It’s an impor­tant and relevant topic to cover and consider because it’s often left out of traditional art history.”

She is the only fac­ulty member on Main campus who teaches the subject, which is only offered in the fall term each year, said Miller.

The class covers women in the visual arts and art history from the perspective of women — dating from prehistoric art to contemporary art in a broad view, she said.

“We cover some of the issues that surround images that were made of women and sort of political and cultural ideas involving artwork that had relation to the place of women in soci­eties or time basis or cul­tures,” said Miller.

Nursing major Sandra Breceda said she took the class because she wanted to know more about how women can get ahead in social and political status and it is teaching her about the formation of art history.

“I love it. It teaches me about how women used to be, how they were really good artists and how they overcame difficulties among men,” said Breceda.

It is an important class in knowing what is happening in society and it could help her, she said. Miller puts detailed preparation into her lec­tures and her enthusiasm is enough to recommend this class to not only women, but to everyone, said Breceda.

Fine Arts major Eden Coetay said she previously had Miller as a teacher and knew she was a good instructor.

“It’s pretty fun and cool. I saw it as a great opportunity because I don’t know much about art history,” said Coetay.

Miller said the first serious discussion of women in art was a 1971 article written by Linda Nochlin titled ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’

She said people looked back and found wonderful women artists who produced work just as good as men, but were left out of art history.

Broader political and social structures kept women out of the hier­archy of art and to an extent it still happens, she said. Women were considered property and were not allowed to be educated in art unless their fathers gave consent until the early 1900s, said Miller.

“Some of the basic structures of art educa­tion like anatomy were limited to women even until the modern era,” she said. “In the 50s and 60s women were considered not to have the personality to make great art.”

Nochlin’s assertion that the art by women could be equal to men’s persuaded many women to take different sub­ject matter and express themselves, said Miller.

“It opened up bigger doors for not just women but for people of different races and economic classes,” Miller said. “The ques­tion really became ‘Why are we not willing to include lots of differ­ent ideas and cultural productions in this idea of fine art and what fine art is, and who really gets to decide?’”

Leave a Reply