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2018 Transformative Learning Conference

March 8–9, 2018

Oklahoma City, OK


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Women Artists at War

Thursday, March 8, 2018 at 4:45 PM–6:00 PM CST
Young Ballrooms D & E

This proposal will explain the skills I learned and the adaptation of behavior needed to literally navigate the streets and archives of Art Galleries and Museums of London. This project allowed me to learn how to handle material in London collections, realize what materials were useful and how to spend my time more wisely in the archives. Getting to see and uncover these women's lives as artists opens a window into how they were treated and how they created the artwork we have collected from them today. This poster will present my results researching the comparison between British women war artists and German women artists during the Great War. This project was also conducted at the University of Central Oklahoma with the use of the Research, Creative and Scholarly Activites Grant.


The War Artist Advisory Committee (WAAC) of Great Britain commissioned British women artists to paint a record of life on the home front during World War I and World War II. By comparison, German women artists painted an interpretation about how they felt during this time of sacrifice. Their artwork, although reflecting a time of war, presents an entirely different war record. The British women were precise and worried about a commission; the German women were messy and expressed their grief. Consider for example Sella Hasse expressed her grief and heartache through rough stokes of charcoal whereas Anna Airy eyed the technical aspects of painting through the depiction of the industry. The WAAC told the British women what to create, while the government told German women what not to create. Both the German and the British women dealt with the rise in female workers, the loss of family and friends, and the technological advances in industry and warfare. Both met obstacles to self-expression from their governments as the powerful sought to restrict their artistic talents. Both had to endure hardships in the art community. These women strived to express themselves with the help of their natural abilities and were often swept aside for other male artists. The research for this project is drawn from the archival collections and art galleries housed at the Imperial War Museum, Tate Britain, and the British Library.  


Palmer, K. (2011). Women war artists. London: Tate Publishing.

Siebrecht, C. (2013). The aesthetics of loss: German women’s art of the first world war. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Speck, C. (2014). Beyond the battlefield: Women artists of the two world wars. London: Reaktion Books.

Format of Presentation


Conference Thread(s)

Critically Reflecting in Transformative Learning

Primary Presenter

Beth Anderson, University of Central Oklahoma

Secondary Presenters