National Women's History Project Honors
the 2008 National Women's History Month Honorees

by Polly Guerin    


"The history of women and art is the story of amazing women's accomplishments" says Molly Murphy MacGregor, who spearheaded the

National Women's History Project, (NWHP) the organization that put Women's History Month during March on our nation's calendar.

So listen up brother, father, uncle, significant other, this pioneer for women artist's rights, MacGregor sets the record straight by reclaiming the rightful place for women in the arts, who had been written out of history and also to honor women artists today. So NWHP in sponsorship with the A.I.R. Gallery, the home of women in the arts in New York City for 36 years, joined forces creating the first, month-long series of citywide events focusing on the achievements of women in the arts.

This year's theme, "Women's Art: Women's Vision" kicked off with a fashionable afternoon high tea at the Puck Building in Soho honoring about a dozen women whose tenacity, talent and vision carved out important place for women in the arts. I would have liked to mention here all the honorees but space does not permit so just to name a few here goes:

So what’s in a name? Plenty if you consider Judy Chicago, whose name was Judy Cohen until poster's promoting her exhibitions billed her as Judy Chicago, after all she hails from Chicago, Illinois. A prolific painter, printmaker, tapestry and needlework artist, Judy Chicago's "Dinner Table" an iconic masterpiece installation of 39 place settings in ceramic plates celebrating women in history, on tapestry altar cloths is a breathtaking demonstration of a monumental work executed by 1038 women artists.  The next day, after the Pen & Brush event limos whisked us off to Brooklyn to see the awesome "Dinner Table." Whew!!! It was overwhelming, each place setting a tribute to women from antiquity to the likes of Georgia O'Keefe. A "Must See" at

Who said men cornered the market on cartoons? Wrong again, kudos to Rose Cecil O'Neill (l874-l944) one of the first female cartoonists in America.  Illustrator, author and originator, she created the Kewpie character, those adorable little pixie-like baby figures first appeared in her illustrated poems for the Ladies' Home Journal. Accepting the NWHP award was the ebullient supporter of works by O'Neill, Susan K. Scott, curator of the Bonniebrook Historical Society O'Neill wrote and illustrated eight children's books featuring Kewpies from 1912 to 1936 and Kempie comics appeared in newspapers during those years.

Best known for her painted story quilts, Faith Ringgold, painter, quilter/writer was born in l930 in Harlem.  Today, she is best known for her painted story quilts, art that combines painting quilted fabric and storytelling. Her art aims to celebrate the uniqueness and commonality of all cultures.

Are there any American Indian artists?  You Bet!!! Take Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, she was born at the Indian Mission on the Flathead Reservation in l940 in Montana. Today she is one of the most acclaimed artists in her genre. Among Jaune Quick-to-See Smith's remarkable achievements is the floor design in the Great Hall of the new Denver airport; an in-situ sculpture piece in Yerba Buena Park San Francisco and a mile-long sidewalk history trail in West Seattle.

Did polio stop Lihua Lei? Nothing doing, this charming young woman, despite her disability, greets us with an endless beaming smile and joie de vivre. Lihua Lei's multimedia installations evoke a sense of walking through and being enfolded in the artwork.  Born in l966 in Taiwan her parents were rice farmers. However, unable to stand her job was to sit on the edge of her family's rice field and scare the scavenging birds away. As an adult, she designs installation art that explores, defines, and honors the personal experiences of her own life.

A.I.R. Gallery's First Annual Gala Celebration and exhibition following the tea featured works by l00 women artists, from established art world luminaries such as Yoko Ono and Lorna Simpson to newly emerging artists. See more at

In sync with the NWHP event, the book "Winning the Vote" The Triumph of the American Woman Suffrage Movement, by Robert P. J. Cooney, Jr., was showcased at the Pen & Brush Club which featured ten women artists who, in the early l900s, helped win equal suffrage in the U.S. The iconic 496 page, 9x11" lavishly illustrated book tells for the first time the full story of the multi-faceted suffrage movement which resulted in the ratification of the l9th Amendment. The author spent l2 years researching and uncovered never before published photos, archival material and campaign memorabilia. Cooney does not avoid controversial issues and even includes women who opposed the Suffrage Movement.  A "Must Have" for any library, personal or public. Order from or

Well, Ta Ta dear readers. No time to lose. I've got a lot to do, so do you, to rise up and join the ranks of the women of century, who will leave their mark for future generations to come.

Banner announcing the March 28, 2008 NWHP’s Women’s History Month High Tea at the Puck Building in New York City.

Molly Murphy MacGregor, NWHP Executive Director, welcomes guests at the High Tea honoring 12 significant multicultural women artists.

Molly Murphy MacGregor points out that one of this year’s honorees, artist and cartoonist Rose Cecil O’Neill, worked in the Puck Building in the early 1900s. She created the Kewpie doll.

Internationally renowned artist Edna Hibel accepts her award from National Women’s History Project director Molly Murphy MacGregor.

The evening event in the Puck Building celebrated women artists, collectors, and women- owned art galleries in New York City.

Guests enjoyed dinner during the evening celebration which also honored A.I.R. Gallery’s 35 year history.

A sold-out crowd filled New York City’s classic Puck Building for the dinner and evening program.

A festive brunch was featured at the NWHP and Pen and Brush Club’s morning reception in New York on March 29, 2008.

NWHP board members Linda Wharton and Robert P. J. Cooney, Jr. at the Pen and Brush Club.

“Women Artists and the Suffrage Movement” was the subject of author Robert P. J. Cooney, Jr.’s slide presentation at the Pen and Brush Club honoring Women’s History Month.