The Women's Art Club of Hamilton
By Kieh Kirby
Elizabeth Rohrbaugh, painter, creative educator, and founder of The Women’s Art Club of Hamilton has built a place for women to join a unique and diverse arts community.
The clubs purpose is to “use art as a common denominator that connects community members with one another, to encourage growth in artistic appreciation, craft and conception, and artistically enrich our community”
Last school year while presenting at a Miami University Hamilton class, Elizabeth met a student, Lindsey Hurst, who was like-minded in finding ways to build a community for artistic women in Hamilton. They realized there are similar clubs in nearby cities but not close enough. Elizabeth and Lindsey continued to meet to flush out details in creating a local club. The first step: invite others. They started meeting in our local coffee shop, True West Coffee to see if anyone else was interested. The response was incredibly positive from other women and local businesses, specifically the Fitton Center and the Strauss Gallery. Monthly gatherings were soon established - mosaic classes, Plein Air painting at Marcum Park, and more. If you’re not familiar with the term Plein Air like I was, here is a helpful definition by Artists Network writer, Courtney Jordan, “Plein Air painting is about leaving the four walls of your studio behind and experiencing painting and drawing in the landscape. The practice goes back for centuries but was truly made into an art form by the French Impressionists. Their desire to paint light and its changing, ephemeral qualities, coupled with the creation of transportable paint tubes and the box easel—the precursor to the plein air easels of today—allowed artists the freedom to paint ‘en plein air,’ which is the French expression for ‘in the open air’” or even more simply put in Elizabeth’s own words, “creating art outside.”
Elizabeth has substantial plans for this new community, “I’m hoping this club allows for broad interaction, brings together women in the arts and is mutually beneficial for the city. When I look out long term for our club, I could see some sort of philanthropic events that ultimately we could contribute to or even sponsor perhaps. There is a bright future, but we are so new in the formation stage, we don’t have officers or are collecting dues at this point. Right now there is a lot of positive community involvement. Women have been saying ‘this is fantastic’ and ‘I've always wanted something like this nearby’. It really is a great, positive activity that we can all do together.”
The current email list includes over 40 fiber artists, writers, painters and more. Some aren’t old enough to order a drink while others are starting new painting hobbies in their 80’s. Most members live locally, however one woman in Indiana heard about the club and decided to drive in for meetings. Elizabeth describes the club this way, “As artists we all tend to work on our own, we spend a lot of time alone in the studio. You’re facing challenges that only other artists understand - and to have the opportunity to discuss that with other women is a really rich environment that you can’t find anywhere else.”
The Women’s Art Club has an amazing upcoming opportunity to fill the entire gallery space at the Strauss Gallery and Fitton Center for the month of February. A variety of pieces can be included: prints, glass, fiber art, sculpture installations, paintings, writings, etc. For those interested in being a part of the exhibit, there is an application process that must be completed by the end of the year. If you’re interested in learning more about the group or to attend a monthly meeting, please email Elizabeth Rohrbaugh at email@example.com or find their page on Facebook.