School of Education News

Isthmus reports on Women Artists Forward Fund launched by alums Baker, Ross

October 30, 2019

Isthmus recently shared an article spotlighting UW-Madison alumnae Brenda Baker and Bird Ross — and the launch of their Women Artists Forward Fund, created to support female artists in Wisconsin. 

Baker earned her master of fine arts degree from the School of Education’s Art Department in 1990, and Ross receive her MFA in 1992. 

Brenda Baker and Bird Ross
Brenda Baker (left) and Bird Ross have raised over
$300,000 to put toward the Women Artists
Forward Fund. Both earned master of fine arts
degrees from the School of Education's Art
The idea for the Fund, Isthmus reports, was born out of a collaborative art project Baker and Ross did for “Capitol at 100,” an exhibit curated by Martha Glowacki at the Overture Center. Their contribution, “Being Forward,” featured a black and white photograph of Jean Pond Miner sculpting the iconic “Forward” statue housed in the lobby of the Wisconsin Historical Society. 

Through their research, they discovered that Wisconsin native Miner had sculpted the statue during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, thanks to financial support from a female Janesville afternoon tea club, now the Janesville Women’s Club. 

Isthmus explains that not only was “Forward” created due to support from women, but the statue’s restoration was also supported by Wisconsin women. Despite these efforts, though, Baker and Ross, both working artists, explain that state spending on arts is dismal.

“If we really believe art and culture is what fuels our souls and community, and brings people to our community, we should be investing more money in it. Not just in organizations, but the individuals that are making the art,” Baker tells Isthmus. 

Over the past two years, Baker and Ross have raised over $300,000 to put towards the fund, an endowment that will be held at the Madison Community Foundation. This November, two artists will be selected to receive $10,000 awards, and all applicants will have their art displayed in the Diane Endres Ballweg Art Gallery on the third floor of the Central Library.  

For complete details, check out the Isthmus article here.

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