Art and Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon
March is National Women’s month in the United States and on March 5, people all around the world gathered together to edit or create Wikipedia pages in honor of women throughout history who haven’t had their accomplishments recognized on the Internet. Santa Fe was no exception. A small group of women congregated in the New Mexico Museum of Art auditorium, surrounded by books and old newspaper clipping, working on their laptops.
Rebecca Potance, librarian, archivist and webmaster for the New Mexico Museum of Art, got the idea to hold the Wikipedia editing session from Sian Evans, a librarian who works for an online art archive called ArtStor. But Potance admits that she wanted to do the Wikipedia event for several years.
“There was just so much momentum and enthusiasm for it from my coworkers,” she says while smiling. “I think it’s been a success because we’ve managed to get a lot of new people to participate and I think it’s really raised awareness.”
Mimi Roberts, who works for the Department of Cultural Affairs, also thinks the project has been successful.
“Wikipedia is really the first place people go to find information about people,” Roberts says. “It’s important that people are able to find good content about New Mexican culture that isn’t available on the web right now.”
A big part of New Mexico culture, especially in Santa Fe, revolves around the artist community. Unfortunately, many women artists have been under-represented in the media and on the Internet.
“Women artists are only known during their life and are soon forgotten about after their death by the general public,” says Carmen Vendelin, another woman editing Wikipedia pages. The lack of information on these women makes it incredibly difficult to keep their legacies alive.
Erica Prater, the art collections and questions manager at the New Mexico Museum of Art, was not editing Wikipedia pages but instead helping the women with IT and troubleshooting problems that might occur as they wrote and posted their articles.
“A lot of women artists are unrepresented on Wikipedia,” she says, solemnly. “It’s important to get them out there.”
Liz Neely, who moved to Towson, NM from Chicago, believes that Wikipedia is a good tool to educate people about New Mexico’s tricultural community.
“Wikipedia has cross links to the ecosystem of the wider net,” she says. “It can be used to expose the world to women and Native American artists.”
Most of the women in the auditorium had chosen a specific woman to research and write a Wikipedia article on. Neely chose Eva Mirabal (Eah Ha Wa), a Pueblo artist who went into the cartooning in order to help with the war effort during World War II.
Vendelin was focusing on Pansy Stockton and her “Sun Paintings” collection. Vendelin is concerned about the disparity in the number of women editing Wikipedia pages. She asserts that it’s important for women to start researching and writing about women and thinks there needs to be more representation for women artists after they pass away. MiJan Tho-Biaz, a scholar at the University of Columbia, has never edited Wikipedia pages before.
“I work to help marginalized communities be heard by amplifying their unheard stories,” Tho-Biaz says. She also agrees that the Wikipedia editing project is an important one because many artist women don’t have much of a voice on the Internet.
This incredibly unique movement, focusing on equal representation for women artists, formally ended on March 5. That being said, anyone should feel free to start or continue editing Wikipedia pages about women throughout the month of March so that people all around the world can have knowledge and access to women artists.