Urgent Museum Notice

Image for Get To Know Nmwa’s Director: Part 1

Get to Know NMWA’s Director: Part 1

Blog Category:  Director's Desk

NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling answers questions about art, equity, and travel. This is part two of a two-part questionnaire. Explore part two.

NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling; Photo by Michele Mattei

Was there a pivotal moment that led you to working in the arts? If so, what was it?
From the time I was in fourth grade, I had the good fortune to take school field trips to the Cleveland Museum of Art. We went on Mondays when it was closed to the public so I always felt like it was a very special place. Since it’s an encyclopedic museum, you could see everything from early civilizations through to the early 20th century. The now-famous director Sherman E. Lee brought in Asian art that glowed on the walls. In high school I was able to have a one-day-a-week internship, working with Henry Hawley who was an expert on Fabergé eggs.
Which women artists do you admire most?
I admire the next artist I am about to see. But to narrow it down, right now I deeply appreciate great artists who are all about creating social awareness with intentions to incite social change. I am drawn to artists who are handling big topics, and creating art that makes you think about our world.
Which historical women artists would you like to invite to a dinner party?
Elisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun, Portrait of Princess Belozersky, 1798; Oil on canvas, 31 x 26 1/4 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Rita M. Cushman in memory of George A. Rentschler; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

I would like to dine with women artists from French society in the 18th century. There was a brief period when women held court in the salons of Paris before the French Revolution. It was the beginning of the modern age. At the table it would be great to see Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun—who became the court painter to Marie Antoinette—as well as Marguerite Gérard, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, and Anne Vallayer-Coster.
If you could change one thing in the art world, what would it be?
The reputation of women in the art world. In music, there are blind juries so the judges can’t see the gender or race of the person playing. Perhaps this needs to be considered more within visual art competitions.
What is the role of art in our society?
It’s central! Essential!

Related Posts

  • Art Fix Friday: September 18, 2020

    Posted: Sep 18, 2020 in Art Fix Friday
    Mierle Laderman Ukeles's new installation honors New York City service workers; Artists and museums collaborate with PlanYourVote.org; A new graphic biography on Yayoi Kusama; and more.
    A black-and-white photograph of a light-skinned adult woman holding a newspaper with news about World War II. She wears a coat and her short, curly hair is caught in the wind.
    Blog Category:  Art Fix Friday
  • Modern Makers: LUMXN

    Posted: Sep 16, 2020 in Museum Shop
    Interview with Marlin Ramos and Reina DuFore, founders of LUMXN, a zine that highlights and promotes intersectional womxn doing unconventional advocacy work in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) area.
    Two hands enter the frame from the left and right sides. On the left, the light-skinned hand has silver nail polish and holds a white, tall, lit votive candle. The hand on the right is dark-skinned and holds a magazine that says
    Blog Category:  Museum Shop
  • Unapologetic: An Interview with Johanna Toruño

    Posted: Sep 08, 2020 in Advocacy
    Salvadoran-born artist Johanna Toruño's street art celebrates and makes visible Queer, working class, and immigrant Black and Brown communities.
    A woman holds a paint roller and looks down, her hands at work; She stands next to a wheat paste mural that features bold black text overlaid on a peach background that features a rose. The text reads:
    Blog Category:  Advocacy