Students write Canadian women artists into ‘herstory’ with Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

Wikipedia articles were updated to reflect historical contributions by Canadian women in the arts in Art+Feminism event

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Reported by Sasha Zeidler

Students are helping rewrite history by adding to the Wikipedia pages of female artists in Canada.

The Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon is a worldwide event, held annually on International Women’s Day for the last three years, focused on adding content to the pages of otherwise underappreciated female artists.

Less than 10 per cent of Wikipedia contributors identify as female, the reason for this event, according to Art+Feminism.

Langara College students from two art history classes participated in the edit-a-thon, the first at Langara, and featured Canadian female artists. Gathered in the library computer lab, students worked individually or in small groups to expand and add new information to artist pages, or created entirely new page entries.

Alena Buis, an art history teacher and interim department chair, has been planning the event since November. She hopes students take away two things from the experience: “a knowledge of an artist that they may not have had before, but also their power as makers of knowledge themselves.”

Women in the arts have been excluded from much of human history

Mich Prins, a first-year fine arts student, said that a feminist approach in the classroom may help build solidarity among those who do not conform to “the system, or traditional Eurocentric narrative.”

“Women artists in general are underrepresented in the media,” Prins said. “But then we’re talking about white women.”

They still feel that transgender women, transgender women of colour and people with disabilities are especially underappreciated in many aspects of our culture.

“We’re kind of bringing these voices to the light because our society ignores people who are different.”

Second-year general arts student Hafsa Mohamud hopes this event helps to bring a female perspective, which she feels has been erased in art history.

“I’m really happy to have had the opportunity to do this,” Mohamud said. “It is more than just doing an essay assignment: you really are making an impact in the art world by putting this information out there.”

This year the event was just for students and was graded as an in-class assignment. Buis hopes that next year, the event will be open to everyone at Langara.

Screenshot of Canadian artist Marianne Nicolson‘s Wikipedia page edits on International Women’s Day, 2017.

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