Review Blog

Feb 25 2020

Women artists A to Z by Melanie LaBarge

cover image

Illus. by Caroline Corrigan. Penguin Random House Australia, 2020. ISBN: 9781760896317.
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Women artists A to Z by Melanie LaBarge is a remarkable look at a range of women artists from all walks of life. Some of the artists featured were familiar but most were unknown - Mirka Mora, Betye Saar, Helen Frankenthaler, Yayoi Kusama, Kay Sage, Georgia O'Keeffe, Agnes Martin, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Elizabeth Catlett, Judith Leyster, Leonora Carrington, Carmen Herrera, Edmonia Lewis, Maya Lin, Hilma af Klint, Maria Martinez, Gee's Bend quilters, Frida Kahlo, Louise Bourgeois, Lois Mailou Jones, Alice Neel, Helen Zughaib, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Dorothea Lange, Xenobia Bailey and Maria Sibylla Merian.
Each artist has a very different style and depending on the letter of the alphabet chosen relating to the artist, every double page tells a different story. For example, H is for Horse expresses the art of Jaune Quick-to-see Smith whose work challenges the treatment of Indigenous peoples in the USA. She often includes horses in the paintings hence the letter H. R is for Roots showcases Frida Kahlo and her small yet powerful images that were rooted in her Mexican identity.
On each page is a brief yet succinct explanation of the artist and their work. At the end of the book is more detailed information and questions relating to each artist. This would provide further discussion and research for teachers and students. The illustrations by Caroline Corrigan are simplistic in style and do justice to the simple text and as an introduction to a new artist for young students. However as I viewed each double page spread I strongly felt the need to research each artist to see their work as it is truly presented and was astonished by the wonderful selection of diverse cultures and mediums included in this book.
Women artists A to Z is fabulous way to introduce children to new, perhaps lesser known artists. There is a wealth of learning to be gained for both adults and children by reading and sharing the information in this book. Themes: Women artists, Diversity, Cultures, Art mediums.
Kathryn Beilby

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