Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Sept. 26, 1997

The woman behind 'In A Man's Brain'

by Marilyn Vaughan, Brunnier Museums

Mary Atherly thought it might be tough going when she struggled for days with the long-necked, old-fashioned keys in the lock of her temporary office at the Hunterian Art Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland. "I never could get the door open to my office," recalled Atherly, collections manager for University Museums at Iowa State. "It is comical now, but I was afraid that I looked like an idiot."

So she felt particular sympathy when she noticed the weary woman with the same type of key clutched in her hand in Francis Dodd's 1907 etching, Doorkeeper. Dodd's print and 85 other etchings, lithographs and woodcuts are on display at the Brunnier Art Museum in the exhibit, "In a Man's Brain: Images of Women."

Visitors to the museum first see the 6-foot tall shadow image of a woman plastered against the glass, with her arms and legs desperately trying to free herself from the frame. This 1971 image by artist Colin Self marks the entrance to a diverse show, featuring prints by 69 male artists dating from 1497 to 1990.

Atherly selected the prints during a three-month sabbatical to Scotland in 1994 as part of an exchange program between ISU and the University of Glasgow. Her intent was to bring prints from the Hunterian's prized collections for a show in Ames -- prints that never had been on tour before and prints with big names attached to them, like Picasso, Gauguin, Renoir and Whistler.

"There are thousands of prints in the Hunterian's collection," she said. "I had the opportunity to review all of them."

The expressions on the women's faces steered Atherly's final selections, along with the desire to show how printmaking, a medium once dominated by men, evolved through the centuries.

Christopher Allan, retired director of the Hunterian, accompanied the exhibit to ISU and will create some of his own works in an open artist's studio at the Brunnier before he departs at the end of this month.

Art historian Amy Namowitz Worthen, will speak at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28, in the Brunnier. Atherly will conduct a gallery walk of the exhibit at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, followed by a photographic presentation on Glasgow by Betty Stanley, photographer and ISU's director of institutional research.

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