Women’s History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. Join us this March, as we celebrate each day with an
801CreativeWoman who knocked down boundaries and paved the way for Art to be celebrated in our great state of Utah.
Happy Women’s History Month!
MAUD MAY BABCOCK In 1892, Maud May Babcock, or “Miss B” as her students called her, became the first female faculty member at the University of Utah. She formed the first college dramatic club in the United States, and it’s believed that under her direction, the U was the first college in the country to produce a stage play. She founded the first physical training curriculum, as well as the Department of Speech. With many other notable accomplishments, she was also the first woman to serve as chaplain in the Utah senate. Today, the Babcock Theatre at the University of Utah is named in her honor.
DIANE STEWART Diane Stewart has been a driving force in enriching the arts culture within the state of Utah. Together with her husband, they founded the Stewart Family Foundation in 2002, to help grow the arts and education in Utah, as well as to focus on progressive issues. A long-time lover and collector of art, she opened a gallery in 2014, Modern West Fine Art, as a place to support established and emerging contemporary artists. Currently, she’s a board member of Alliance for a Better Utah, the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera, Silver Screen Commission, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Center for the Arts Advisory Board, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, and Intermountain Healthcare Foundation.
BROOKE SMART Brooke Smart is an illustrator based in Utah. After studying illustration, she earned her BFA from Brigham Young University in 2007, and more recently began teaching part-time in their Illustration and Design Departments. She has been awarded a Portfolio Honor at the SCBWI Portfolio Showcase in New York City, both in 2016 and 2018. Today, she is represented by Bookmark Literary as an author-illustrator devoting time to children’s books. Also using her talents to illustrate for the Better Days 2020 Campaign, and You can see more of her work on her website, and the Better Days 2020 site.
MAUDE ADAMSMaude Adams was born in Salt Lake City in 1872. She appeared in her first stage production at the Brigham Young Theatre when she was two months old. Through her early adolescence, she bounced around performing in productions between California, New York and Utah. Into her early adulthood, she stayed in Salt Lake City to study at the Salt Lake Collegiate Institute, before moving to New York City to pursue her stage career. Maude became one of the most successful and highest-paid performers of her day, most notably for her role in 1905 as Peter Pan in the first Broadway production in NYC of J.M. Barrie’s classic story. Later in her life, she began working with General Electric to develop an improved and more powerful stage light, along with the Eastman Company in developing color photography.
JOAN WOODBURYJoan Woodbury is a Utah native, who has dedicated her life and experiences to sharing her passion of Dance with others. Woodbury studied Modern Dance at the University of Wisconsin, where her interest of how dance benefits the human body evolved. After her studies concluded and by chance, she agreed to an interview with the dance department at the University of Utah, ultimately deciding to take the job. In 1955, she was the first to receive the Fulbright Scholarship in dance, to continue her studies in Berlin. Once she returned to Salt Lake, she came back to the university and split her responsibilities, and salary, of her job with Shirley Ririe. Together over the next 10 years, they built the Dance Department at the University of Utah, while simultaneously co-creating their own dance company. Over the years, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company has grown from a local entity, into an internationally renowned contemporary dance company. Joan has choreographed over 100 works in her career and has danced and taught workshops all over the world. Among numerous grants and awards in her life, she has been the recipient of the Utah Governor’s Award in the Arts, the Heritage Award from the National Dance Association, and the Cathedral of the Madeleine Award. In 2013, she was considered one of Utah’s 15 Most Influential Artists. Today, she continues to share her passions, support, and assistance in the dance community.
POP CHALEEPop Chalee, born Merina Lujan in Castle Gate, Utah in 1906. She was a painter, muralist, performer and singer, most known for her paintings of enchanted forest scenes and detailed renditions of mythical horses, woodland creatures, and ceremonial dancers. Pop Chalee is a name given to her by her Taos kin as a child, meaning “blue flower” in the Tiwa language. Throughout her life, her family moved frequently between Salt Lake City and Taos. Around the 1920s – 1930s, she began lecturing and performing in Utah in the hopes to raise awareness and change perceptions of Native Americans. In the mid-1940s, she began working on murals for the Albuquerque airport, which were restored and reinstalled in the newly remodeled airport in 1990. Later that year, she received the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. In 1992, at the age of 86, she completed her last mural for the New Mexico State Capitol Building.
DEE-DEE DARBY-DUFFIN Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, but after relocating to Salt Lake City, it’s easy to see our creative community wouldn’t be the same without her. She is a singer, actress, writer, producer and performer. She started her singing career with genres like jazz, R&B, soul and funk, eventually catching the acting bug. Dee-Dee has entertained audiences in numerous productions, most recently in “An Evening with Two Awful Men” at Plan-B Theatre. She continues to perform her musical styles in venues like The Perry Egyptian Theatre, Backstage at The Grand, among many others. Be sure to check out her Event Calendar on her website for upcoming events – her stage presence is not to be missed! https://www.deedeedarbyduffin.com/
ALTA RAWLINS JENSEN Alta Rawlins Jensen was a key figure in establishing the Art Barn Association. In 1932, the Great Depression was under way and spirits were low. Alta garnered the help of fellow enthusiasts to cofound the association, in which she served as the first President. The Art Barn was first described as a Greenwich Village for Salt Lake City, starting with the hopes of enriching art culture within the state of Utah. In 1958, it became the Salt Lake Art Center. Again, rebranding in 2011 to become the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, a place that still invites curiosity and aims to make contemporary art accessible to a diverse audience.
TRENT ALVEYTrent Alvey is a multi-media artist who uses paint, industrial materials, found objects, light and sound technique in the creation of her work. She graduated from Westminster College, where shortly after she owned a graphic design business in Salt Lake. In 2002, she won a bronze for her mixed-media piece, The Sacred and the Profane, in a statewide competition. She was also chosen as 1 of 20 Utah artists to be part of the Women Beyond Borders exhibit at Art Access Gallery during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Her work has also been included in a variety of local and national exhibitions. Alvey has spoken of her process, “Art brings seemingly isolated events into a larger pattern. I have found refuge, release and insight here.” http://www.trentalvey.com
ALICE MERRILL HORNE In 1898, Alice Merrill Horne became the 2nd woman elected to the Utah House of Representatives and the first inductee to the Salt Lake Council’s Women’s Hall of Fame. In her time on the State Legislature, she was a key force behind the bill that created the state art institute, which became the first state-sponsored arts agency in the nation. She helped establish the state art collection, and also served on the committee that oversaw the acquisition for the current site of the University of Utah. She was an early preservationist and environmentalist, in which she helped save Eagle Gate from demolition and fought for clean air. She formed 37 collections of Utah Art in public schools so children, no matter what background they came from, could be exposed to original art. “If art reigns in the home there will grow out of it beautiful parks, streets, thoroughfares and cities.” -1899. From the 1920s to her death in 1948, she ran an art gallery with a main goal of highlighting and selling works of inter-mountain artists. Today, the Horne Fine Art Gallery is still run by her family, and the state of Utah Art Collection is named in her honor as the Alice Art Collection.
CAITLIN CONNOLLY Caitlin Connolly, a native of Utah, is an artist who draws inspiration from the human experience. Subjects like; life, death, tragedy, joy, loneliness, spirituality and progression are key factors that motivate her art. She graduated from the University of Utah with a BFA emphasizing in Painting and Drawing, where she began to explore portrayals of womanhood and figurative art. She credits her experience of growing up with all brothers that moved her to start exploring what feminine experiences meant to her through her art. She aims to depict “powerful yet flawed” experiences, something she relates directly with. Among exhibiting her work in many solo and group exhibitions, she has also been honored with the 2015, BDAC, Best of Show, Annual Statewide Competition in Bountiful, Utah, as well as, the 2015 10th Annual International Art Competition, Purchase Prize. http://caitlinconnolly.com/
VIRGINIA TANNER Virginia Tanner was a dancer whose legacy continues to enrich and inspire the lives of those involved. Virginia was born and raised in Salt Lake City, spending her summers traveling to workshops in Colorado and eventually New York City, where she studied under Doris Humphrey. She began teaching at the McCune School of Music and Art, where she was the director of the dance program. In 1937, she went on to establish the Tanner Dance Program at the University of Utah, which is still active today within the College of Fine Arts. In 1947, she added a performing company called the Children’s Theatre Dance Group, and had renamed what it remains today as the Children’s Dance Theatre by 1949. She is recognized as a pioneer of children’s dance and as one of its finest teachers. Today, her traditions continue to nurture the imagination and creativity in the art of dance.
STEFANIE DYKES Stefanie Dykes is a local printmaker whose work features intricate, classically-inspired designs. Her work begins with a narrative, creating a character or representing an idea in a way that her audience can relate to and enjoy, which remains her driving force. Describing her process, she states, “I want art and life to connect in a meaningful way. I aspire to understand how experiences, words and thoughts can be slowed down and refracted through drawings and paintings.” In 2003, she co-founded the Saltgrass Printmakers, a non-profit printmaking studio and gallery, with a main goal of supporting and promoting printmaking as a first-class member of the fine art community. She has taught printmaking techniques at the University of Utah, Westminster College, Snow College, and Saltgrass Printmakers. She has exhibited her work around the world, as well as here in Utah, and has been awarded artist residencies in Idaho, Colorado and Oregon. Most recently, she’s been collaborating on a project with New Mexico writer, Amie Tullius. To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of their project, Train Tracts, and the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad. Their exhibition will be at Rio Gallery March 22nd – June 14th. #traintracts2019
ESTHER PETERSON Esther Peterson was a lifelong consumer and women’s advocate. Many of the consumer practices we hold to this day are thanks to her countless efforts. Esther was born and raised in Provo; she graduated from BYU in 1927, earning her Master’s from Columbia University in 1930. In 1938, she became a paid organizer for the American Federation of Teachers. She became the first lobbyist for the National Labor Relations Board in Washington DC in 1944, moving to become the first woman lobbyist for the Industrial Union Department of the AFL-CIO. She eventually served a variety of positions in the United States Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor from 1961-1969. President John F. Kennedy chose her to run the Women’s Bureau, as well as serve as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Labor Standards. After the assassination of JFK, President Lyndon Johnson kept her as head of the Women’s Bureau and special assistant to the President for Consumer Affairs. During that period, she investigated discrimination against women, helped pass the “equal pay for equal work” law, she fought for truth in advertising, uniform packaging, unit pricing, laundry tags in clothing and nutritional labeling. Years later, President Jimmy Carter chose her as the special assistant to the President for Consumer Affairs, and President Bill Clinton named her to the U.S. delegation to the UN Assembly in 1993. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981, and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993.
YUNUEN CARRILLO Yunuen Carrillo is Utah’s most recognized mariachi singer. Well-known for her talent, stage presence, charisma and hard work which has resulted to her performing all over the state. She started performing in her early youth, studying folklore and theatre in Mexico and eventually earning a Degree in Business. She believes strongly in the importance of preserving her heritage and sharing it with others. She has performed in one of the most important cultural centers in Mexico, El Palacio de Bellas Artes, as well as in many states across Mexico. She is a prominent figure in the Latin community in Utah, which has led to countless performances in many festivals and events within the community.
EMMA LOU THAYNE Emma Lou Thayne was a poet and novelist. She graduated from the University of Utah in 1945, and eventually went on to complete her master’s degree in the late 60s. She began teaching English at the U and went on to establish the University of Utah’s women’s tennis team, becoming their first coach. She also became the first woman on the board of the Desert News. Her work is remembered by her activeness in encouraging peace among people and nations, and encouraging public attention to mental health, spirituality, and the advancement of women. In 2000, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the U of U, and in 2003, she received an Honorary Doctorate from SLCC. She was honored with awards like; the Gandhi Peace Award in 2013, the Chamber of Commerce Honors in the Arts, the David O. McKay Humanities Award from BYU, and as a Distinguished Alumna of the University of Utah.
DIANA WHITTEN Diana Whitten is a Director, Producer, and Documentary Filmmaker. Her first feature documentary ‘Vessel’ premiered at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival, which won the Audience Award and Special Jury Prize for Political Courage in a Documentary Feature that year. After spending over a decade working in the Art’s Departments for children’s television, theatre, and independent films in New York City, she wanted to shift her momentum to focus on political. Eventually, she began working as the Director of Communications at Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program in which she used her knowledge to unite a community of over 4,300 international social justice activists. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, Refinery 29, the Guardian, and many others. Having previously worked with the Femme Fatales chapter in New York City and upon moving to Utah to realize there was no established chapter, she took the initiative to make it happen.
ALBERTA HENRY Alberta Henry was born in Louisiana in 1920, moving to Salt Lake City from Kansas in 1949. She noticed the lack of professional opportunities and felt the potential of African American youth was under-utilized. She began working in the Head Start program, which ultimately led to her establishing the Alberta Henry Education Foundation in 1967. In 1971, the University of Utah awarded her an honorary doctorate degree, and she earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education in 1980. She was the president of the Salt Lake City branch of the NAACP for 12 years, where she also served on several boards and committees such as; the Utah State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the United Way, Utah Endowment for the Humanities and the Black Advisory Board to the University of Utah. She went on to work as a minority consultant for the Salt Lake City School District, then as the district’s community relations coordinator until she retired in 1986. She was also a member of the Ethics and Disciplinary Committee of the Utah State Bar, the Utah Health Advisory Council and the Brookings Institute Wasatch Front. Her efforts are remembered today as integral part of advancing Utah along with the Civil Rights Movement. Her foundation continues to aid and support youth, helping hundreds of students pay for their education.