Denise Tepe

Date of Award


Document Type

MA Project - Open Access

Project Type

MA Project - Curatorial Proposal

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art Business

First Advisor

Morgan Falconer

Second Advisor

Agnes Berecz


In 1971, art historian Linda Nochlin implored the art world to be introspective of its long-held, male-centered narratives when she published the profound essay ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’ Nochlin articulated the individual and societal factors that have disadvantaged women collectively and have historically kept them from receiving the same level of recognition as male artists for the same quality of work. This essay, compounded with growing feminist sentiments of the late 20th century, insighted art world institutions to highlight and recontextualize the art of women. These institutional efforts have culminated in female artists having a renaissance in the last fifteen years as the 2022 Burns Halperin Report purported that in 2009 museum acquisitions of female artists peaked only to have a resurgence in 2018 following the #MeToo movement. As acquisitions were reaching their peak in 2009, the major traveling exhibition WACK!: Art and the Feminist Revolution was completing its run across the United States and Canada. This show was the first major survey of art made under the influence of Feminism. Over a decade later, the trajectory of inclusivity has brought more groundbreaking shows like Artemisia at the National Gallery of Art in London in 2020, the first solo exhibition of the Italian Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi in the United Kingdom. These two exhibitions demonstrate the range of shows that have been developed to highlight the art of women and facilitate a more holistic narrative of art history. The reality is that a significant portion of exhibitions on women artists favor the works of fine artists, leaving women dedicated to craft and applied artforms to go underrepresented in exhibition offerings. A significant demand for female fine artists has been established and continues to grow, making now an opportune moment to leverage that demand and include major exhibitions on female applied artists. Formed by Fire: A Global Story of Women and Clay will specifically feature female ceramic artists from 1870 until now who originate from multiple cultures and time periods. Previous scholarship and exhibitions have kept the stories and art of female ceramic artists isolated by their respective cultures or time periods. Placing this art in a new dialogue will result in a visual progression of the ceramic medium through the work of women and it will show synergies between cultures that have previously been unseen. Every woman and culture will have a unique perspective on the medium and its purpose, but there are undeniable similarities present in works form opposing sides of the globe that deserve to be displayed. As a historical survey, Formed by Fire provides an educational through line that will show audiences how one medium can evolve from being perceived solely as a craft to become one of the most adaptable and innovative art forms today. The path that the medium of ceramics has taken since 1870 has been immense and beautiful, and largely facilitated by women who now deserve to be spotlighted for their collective contributions.