Her (Gesina ter Borch watercolour artist) output that is contained in 3 albums and some loose sheets of drawings cannot create a giant retrospective” (Kang)

Historic exclusion from making art, results in little work of women artists being available. Historically seen the work of women, even for seventeenth century artist like Gesina ter Borch who carefully preserved her legacy, is limited in size. She could only create because her male family members were artists and provided her with material and education.

Tribute to art, Gesina ter Borch, (ter Borch)

“Paper is more delicate; we cannot show it for a long period of time and often comes in formats that prevent us from bringing it in a more spectacular way” (Kang). Work on paper is fragile and it often means it is hidden in depots (Van Suylen). In addition, drawings (Powell) or paper art (Soth) have often been ignored in art history, structurally being seen as “artsy”.

“And we than have to start thinking about how to promote someone like “Gesina ter Borch” that is equal to say Vermeer“ (Kang). This historic exclusion still prevents inclusion, representation, and value of women’s art in our current times (Heithuis). Art historian Griselda Pollock states in an interview; “It is no matter of forgetting. It is systematic; musea and art historians have denied the existence of female artists by not purchasing, showing, or writing about their work … This way we are taught no single woman has ever done something that is worth to be shown or collected … We get a skewed view of the world, feeding racism and inequality” (van Leeuwen).

Throughout the world the position of women is still often not equal to that of men in their direct surrounding (World Economic Forum), not even touching upon the different situations women face across the world (Hooks). Gender roles are based on different expectations of how someone should behave related to someone’s sex and society’s values and beliefs around gender (Blackstone). In this case that means that work by men is worth showing and collecting, work by women is not.

Rather than presenting the gap as the issue I want to create a work that stimulates to think about the impact of historic exclusion on women artists and the power art institutions possess to change this for now and the future.

To frame this exploration, I use the following research question: 

How can the lack of visibility of women art makers in Dutch institutions be better acknowledged by decision-makers?

In the end I hope the design will serve as a tool and instigator to highlight the unconscious bias and structures in the decision-making of art institutions, such as gallery representatives, curators, or art buyers, that enables and maintains this exclusion. I want them to act and use their impact to change the cultural and artistic landscape.


Kang, Charles. “The elephant in the room, quality.” 08 March 2023. Symposium International Women’s Day. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

ter Borch, Gesina. “Eerbetoon aan kunst; Gesina ter Borch. Poëzie-album van Gesina ter Borch (BI-1890-1952).” Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. Accessed 03 May 2023.

Van Suylen, Maud. “New CODARTfeature: The Exhibition XXL Paper in the Rijksmuseum.” Curator Network Organisation. 28 July 2022.

Heithuis, Sander, et al.. Een nog onverteld verhaal. Stichting Women Inc. 2021.

Van Leeuwen, Anna. “De kunstgeschiedenis klopt van geen kant.” Volkskrant. 8 Oct. 2021.  

World Economic Forum. Global Gender Gap Report 2022. 13 July 2022.

Hooks, Bell. “Art on My Mind, visual politics”. The New Press, New York. 1995.

Blackstone, Amy. “Gender Roles and Society.” The University of Maine. Aug. 2003.

Powell, Catherine. “Where have all the women gone? Challenging structural patriarchy and rethinking feminist art history”. Leiden Arts in Society Blog. 15 October, 2020.

Soth, Amelia. “Joanna Koerten’s Scissor-Cut Works Were Compared to Michelangelo”. JSTOR Daily.27 May, 2021.

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