As a young feminist scholar, I have been grappling with feminism’s relationship to older female aging within visual culture. What started as conversations with the older women in my life—my grand-mothers, their sisters and friends—has led to a deep interest in how aging affects women. Both women’s studies and aging are interests which have developed organically through formal art-history training at the University of Melbourne. Close study of the ways images interact with beliefs has led me to consider the blind-spots, silences and biases of contemporary visual culture, even the most beloved and revered art-works in our canon. Women in advanced older age are often invisible from traditional histories of art, both as subjects and producers of their own image. My work at Oxford continues from formative research at the University of Melbourne exploring the role of care-work in the lives of women artists. I see ‘aging’ as prescient research for an art-history that is self-evaluative and committed to issues of equality in the art-world.
Another avenue of my thinking is the dynamic work of older women artists working in the contemporary art world. At the level of my future practice—perhaps where research meet curation—I would like to widen the curatorial opportunities for older women artists’ work, to enlarge visibility within public collections, and work on aging from the perspective of feminism. As a very interdisciplinary scholar, I am interested in the points of resonances between bodies of knowledge. Art-history is a discipline that trains the scholar’s eye to see detail in the smallest object as well as the broadest movements of culture. When we apply these methods of looking to the pursuit of new knowledge, art-history research allows itself to pause and consider the things that seem most small, insignificant and hidden.
I come to Ertegun House humbled to join this group of dedicated young scholars and to contribute to Ahmet and Mica Ertegun’s legacy as people who opened up opportunities for musicians, artists and creative-workers throughout the twentieth-century and present-day. I see this scholarship program as a vivid connection between the very human act of making images, sound, expression and the other very human act of reflecting on creative pursuits that is the work of humanities scholars. I am delighted and grateful to continue this exchange.