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Hey Mama Artiste, How’s your balance?

By Debora McDell-Hernandez, Coordinator of Community Programs and Outreach and Rachael Baldanza, Creative Workshop Curriculum Director

Who_e_low resOn April 24th, the Memorial Art Gallery joined forces with the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership and the University of Rochester’s Art and Art History department and co-hosted a special screening and discussion of the movie Who Does She Think She Is? Even though it was a beautiful spring day, almost 100 people came to the event. Many stayed and participated in the discussion with artists Nancy Gong, Shelly Green Stoler, Nancy Topolski, Sarah Rutherford, and the Rev. Kaaren Anderson. And still many others told us they wanted to come but just couldn’t (isn’t that the truth!). The film is available for purchase as a house party kit (which lets you screen it for a group of friends of family).

It’s clear that many women longed for an opportunity to discuss these issues with others. One participant said the following about the program: “Wonderful! It seemed in the discussions afterwards that we were all starved for this discussion with each other, and need it on an ongoing basis.”

Another attendee seconded the idea and said, “I found the film incredibly powerful and appreciate having the opportunity to view it and talk with other women about passions and life.”

We were also reminded of the universal need to master juggling acts by another visitor who shared, “The film was great and applies not just to arts or just to women with children but to all women who passionately strive to be successful in their chosen field.”

We couldn’t stop thinking about the ideas and issues raised in the film and the day.

Recent stories in the press reminded us that maybe we’re not the only ones still thinking about the issues. A Democrat and Chronicle article by reporter Mary Chao on three local women artists (Joan Nichols, Kristin Hallagan, and Mahine Rattonsey) working the same juggling act (none of the children look dropped!) gave us a new idea. And Rochester Woman Magazine’s featured report by Susan Dyer about the movie and screening, really pushed us to make it happen.

Seems to us that here in Rochester there are some real hands-on practical strategies well-used by the many creative people who we met at the screening. This got us thinking about strategies…and thinking about how we might find resources…

It also got us wondering if any of the Rochester area women working hard to negotiate child care with painting, or delving into their first creative endeavor in years needed a resource. We could utilize the comments section below as an “Ask MAGGIE” type of forum. Anyone can ask a question in the comments section below and we will try to find an answer using the resources we have among our community of artists, curators, and historians and the Gallery’s library.

For example, you could “Ask MAGGIE”:

How could I find child care so I can paint a few mornings a week?
And she might tell you a story or suggest contacting The Childcare Council.

Let us know if you think this is a good idea and or if you have a question or answer to share…


Comment from Laura Wilder
Time: May 21, 2010, 5:18 pm

I love the Ask Maggie idea. I’d also like to know if there are groups out there who yak about these issues we struggle with. Or if we should start one, even if it’s just online. Maybe the Ask Maggie blog could have a forum where visitors could contribute their own answers and comments, and network with each other?

Comment from lmasny
Time: May 24, 2010, 9:05 am

Hi Laura! Thanks for your feedback-we’re happy you’re excited about this new approach. One thing we should clarify is that Ask Maggie is another way of describing this comments section. We are inviting our blog readers to start a discussion on this topic, using this comments section. Please feel free to continue the dialogue here. Thanks again for your support!

Comment from Debora McDell-Hernandez
Time: May 25, 2010, 10:33 am

Hello Laura! Thanks for your feedback. I’m not aware of any local organizations that focus solely on women in the arts. One of my colleagues suggested WomenArts which is international and based in San Francisco. For more information, visit their website at:

Many local organizations fulfill a professional networking need such as Rochester Women’s Network, American Association of University Women (AAUW), Latinas Unidas, and the Rochester Chapter of the Association of Women in Communications. Although arts educations is not part of the core mission of these groups, several of them have presented programs that celebrated arts and culture.

We encourage you and the others to use this discussion as a platform for sharing ideas. So please keep the artful discussion and comments going. –Debora

Comment from Lu Harper
Time: July 12, 2010, 1:05 pm

We now have a copy of this film available for borrowing at the Gallery’s Charlotte Whitney Allen Library. To check if the film is out before you come in, go to:

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