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Professor Johanna Foster’s Art Work Featured in ‘Women Pathmakers’ Exhibit

Portrait of Charlane Oliver by Johanna Foster
Charlane Oliver

The artwork of Johanna Foster, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology, is currently being featured at the Euphrat Museum of Art at DeAnza College in Cupertino, California. The “Women Pathmakers” exhibit commemorates the 100th year of women’s suffrage and is on display through March 12. 

Foster’s works include portraits of freedom fighters Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Charlane Oliver, and are featured as part of an interactive installation on voting rights, titled “Suffragists Tea Parties,” by sociologist, visual artist and documentarian Jen Myhre, Ph.D.

Foster became involved in the project when her long-time colleague and friend Myhre began designing and conceptualizing different ways of bringing the black suffragist social issue to light. “She was looking to represent black women leaders in the installation project, and in a way that could symbolize and talk back to white suffragists’ racism and the marginalization of black women leaders, not only in the first wave women’s movement, but also in subsequent waves, including contemporary activism.”

Foster added, “Being part of this exhibit has been so exciting for me as it has given me a forum to honor some of my personal heroes, and to also pay homage to women who were and are squarely within the social ethics tradition of sociology.” 

The subjects of her paintings bring the once silenced women of color to the forefront. Foster notes, “Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a founding sociologist who, like other women and men of color in our discipline, had been written out of the historical record for decades, despite her phenomenal work to end lynching in America. The same is true for powerhouse civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer who exemplifies the best in applying sociology in the community organizing tradition. And as someone who studies mass incarceration as a major contemporary ethical issue, the opportunity to paint Charlane Oliver, who has paved the way to end felony disenfranchisement in Tennessee, was really special.” 

Portrait of Fannie Lou Hamer by Johanna Foster
Fannie Lou Hamer