GILLESPIE was born in 1920, the year the 19th
Amendment passed, granting women the right to
vote. In the 1970s, she was the artist in residence
at the Women’s Interart Center in New York City.
She found her voice by reforming the art world from within,
helping women become more involved in the business of art,
academia and management of galleries and museums.
As a central figure in the women’s art movement, she ded-icated
her time giving lectures and guest talks at institutions
and universities across the U.S. She wanted to be seen as a seri-ous
artist and sought to inspire that same confidence in others.
While Gillespie’s work could be viewed as inherently femi-nine
with bright colors and a sense of decor, there’s still a seri-ousness
and stature. It’s a joyous way of interrupting a space
that also says, “challenge me.”
To be both feminine yet imposing is intrinsically a female
experience when one seeks to destabilize and reform societal
norms and structure. It’s as if her pieces are not scared to take
up space while maintaining an effervescence all their own.
One hundred years after her birth, Gillespie is still inspiring
and teaching us today.
Top: A series of Dorothy Gillespie’s panels brings color and
vibrancy to the Cameron Art Museum’s courtyard and
café. Left: Dorothy Gillespie exhibits her multi-flat panel
in Roanoke, Virginia in the 1990s.
COURTESY GARY ISRAEL ALLISON POTTER
“The thing I wanted most in being an artist
was to find my center — the thumbprint that
makes my art mine.” —DOROTHY GILLESPIE
WBM january 2021