Women’s History Month and CCAD

womens history photo

It hasn’t quite been a quarter-century since the U.S. Congress first designated March as Women’s History Month. Initially celebrated in 1981 as “Women’s History Week,” the occasion became a month-long celebration in 1987.

At Columbus College of Art & Design, we are proud of the contributions women have made to our college and to the fields of art, design, and education, starting from our very founding in 1879. We got our start when a group of five women began what was then known as the Columbus Art School alongside the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts (now better known as the Columbus Museum of Art).* Later—much later—Mary Kinney was hired in 1952 as CCAD's Provost and played an instrumental role in growing CCAD and helping the college reach accreditation over her 43-year tenure. (In addition to her dedication to CCAD, Kinney was an artist known for her watercolor paintings.) But it was not until 2016, when Dr. Melanie Corn joined the college as our fifth President, that CCAD had a woman President leading our school.

In the 142 years since we were founded, CCAD has graduated thousands of students who have gone on to have active creative practices as artists, designers, and cultural and community leaders. Here on occasion of Women’s History Month, we highlight two notable women artists with ties to CCAD: 

Aminah Robinson

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson (1940–2015) was born in Columbus’ Poindexter Village, a neighborhood that was the subject of many of her art pieces over the years. As a child, Robinson took Saturday Morning Art Classes at the Columbus Art School and formally enrolled as an undergraduate in 1957. While she did not complete her degree at the college, Robinson started creating her signature RagGonNons—complex, fabric-based mixed-media works—in her second year at CCAD. 

Over the years, Robinson was the subject of 200-some solo and group exhibitions, and her work is on view through October 3, 2021 at the CMoA in the exhibition Raggin’ On: The Art of Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson’s House and Journals. Robinson was winner of the 1984 Ohio Governor's Award for the Visual Arts and in 2004 was named a MacArthur Genius. In addition, Robinson recently was featured in The New York Times “Overlooked” series, which highlights “remarkable people whose deaths, beginning in 1851, went unreported in the Times.”

Additional reading:

Alice Schille

A Columbus native like Robinson, Alice Schille (18691955) graduated at the top of her class at the Columbus Art School in 1893. Known for her Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, Schille is “considered one of America’s foremost women watercolorists,” says Columbus’ Keny Gallery. Columbus Museum of Art calls Schille, who was a CCAD faculty member from 1904 to 1948, “a leading artist of the first half of the 20th century.” The CMoA, which neighbors CCAD in Columbus’ Discovery District downtown, hosted the solo exhibition In a New Light: Alice Schille and the American Watercolor Movement, June 14–Sept. 28, 2019.

Additional reading:

* Of the Columbus Art School’s first graduating class in 1885, five of the six graduates were women. You can see a photo of that first class on the CCAD Archives Facebook page.

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