Exhibit highlights talents of women

October 25, 1998


photos: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

Being a woman in a predominantly male pursuit, Hagerstown wood-carver Kathleen Hansen-Wiebel has had to struggle to make her mark in the art world.

The artist said she continually experiences disbelief that a woman could do such detailed work with wood.

"I've showed some people pictures of my work and they say 'That's not you. You didn't do that,'" she said.

She has even had difficulty using her tax identification number at an area lumber yard because of her gender, she said. When studying her craft for five years in Greece, she had to prove herself to her mentor, whose tempestuous mood swings caused many of her male peers to drop out.

Not discouraged, Hansen-Wiebel has persevered to become a well-known and sought-after wood-carver. Working as Hansen-Wiebel Decorative Design, she creates mirrors, furniture and architectural elements.


Women in the artsHer work can be seen at the Washington County Arts Council Gallery, 41 S. Potomac St., as part of an exhibit focusing on local female artists.

More than 200 patrons of the arts visited the gallery Sunday to enjoy the work of Hansen-Wiebel and nine other women during an opening reception. The exhibit will be open to the public until Nov. 7.

Hosted by the Arts Council and the Washington County Commission for Women, the event honors National Arts and Humanities Month.

The exhibit is the first of its kind for the community, said commission member Patsy Ardinger.

It came about after a friend pointed out to her that Hagerstown artist Dawn K. Hoffmann had work displayed as part of the permanent collection of American crafts at the White House.

"We realized we need to do something about it," she said.

Six pieces of art were sold on Sunday, but Ardinger said the exhibit is more about exposure of women artists than sales.

She said she was pleased to see a range of attendees, including elementary- through college-age students, as well as adults.

Abstract expressionist Nancy Crossley Blank of Hagerstown has six pieces displayed at the exhibit.

She said she enjoys being part of an all-woman show.

Blank said she is excited to see changes in the art world, including the recognition of female artists.

"When I was growing up it was a man's world," she said."Women in the arts needs to be pushed and encouraged. We can do it," she said.

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