Please Support ‘Women Artists in Their Studios’ Environmental Portrait Project Kickstarter Campaign by Kurt Edward Fishback to Show Great Female Role Models to The World.

by Karin Gottschalk1 Comment

This Kickstarter project to portray female artists urgently needs your support. This campaign is closing November 5 and at time of writing is under-pledged to the tune of $20,000. I urge you to take part and help ensure that it lands on its feet.

Northern California native Kurt Edward Fishback grew up in a community replete with photographic greats like Edward Weston, Wynn Bullock and Ansel Adams. His photographic style is as timeless and enduring as the works of his teachers and peers. His approach to environmental portraiture is full of grace and respect for his subjects.

Mr Fishback’s project to photograph seventy women artists is a much-needed chink in the glass wall that holds female artists back in their careers and helps keep young female would-be creatives down in their hopes and expectations.

Women Artists In Their Studios

A photo project dedicated to bringing awareness to women artists.
Goal: $26, 740
Closing date & time: Thursday, November 5 2015, 9:22am AEDT.

I fell into a visual storytelling career by sheer accident after my life and education in a big city in the east came to a sudden halt when my family was dragged off to a small, remote town in the uttermost west.

A tiny lending library became my refuge and primary educator as I tried to find a new way forward in an alien world where the people spoke with odd accents and strange turns of phrase. The bitter Antarctic winds and incessantly grey, rainy days made interiors more tempting than my former outdoor life in the sun and the warmth of another state.

I was drawn to the library’s little visual arts section then learned that I could borrow books from other libraries all over the state. After coming across my first books by photographers, I was hooked and began ordering everything I could find on photography in the card catalog drawers.

I was looking for two things: an understanding of other ways of living, and people who lived full, rich lives that I could learn from and possibly emulate once I got out of that place and all its many limitations.

A book by the late Mary Ellen Mark was my key to a whole new world. Another book featuring celebrity portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz reinforced my slowly forming impression that earning a living in photography might be possible one day.

The workshops and university degrees in photography that photographers like Mary Ellen Mark and others taught showed me that some photographers felt an obligation to share their knowledge and help others along.

Reality turned out to be something else though. I won’t go into the details and travails of trying to be a photographer and then moviemaker in that particular state save to say that I never found my own local role model in that place.

I finally began teaching photography there and my heart was constantly broken by the many brilliantly talented young female photographers who never found a home for themselves in the industry.

Years later, after jumping the photographer/client fence into one of the finest creative agencies in the world, I did my damnedest to find and commission brilliant, so shamefully ignored female photographers of all ages, wherever they were in the world.

The low regard and poor opportunities for female creative talent that I had seen in my youth persist and are ubiquitous still.

The need for prominent female role models is as urgent as ever.

So is the need for stories told by female creatives in all media.

The shameful lack of support for female moviemakers may be the topic of the moment in industry media right now, but women continue to be neglected in all creative fields just as we always have. It has got to stop, and in fact, be radically reversed.

It is not a question of mediocre talent and low desire for success. It is a question of fundamental recognition and of showing and proving that one can achieve success.


Projects like Kurt Edward Fishback’s ‘Women Artists in Their Studios’ are a great beginning. There needs to be plenty more like it, depicting great female role models everywhere, in every field where creativity and innovation are fundamental.

Mr Fishback’s aim is true. As he states in his Kickstarter campaign page, “making 70 new portraits of women artists will bring my archive begun in 1979 into gender equality” and match his current archive of portraits of 172 male artists with images of 172 female artists.

That gender equity alone is a statement worth creating and showing. Mr Fishback is a well-exhibited and well-published photographer and showing 172 women alongside 172 men is an act that can tip the balance in influencing and inspiring young female creatives.

It is the sort of public statement I long hoped for since I was young, and have tried to make in my own small ways.

Please pledge everything you can spare to this Kickstarter campaign. It will make a positive difference. [bctt tweet=”Urgent: Pledge to KE Fishback’s ‘Women Artists In Their Studios’ photo project before November 5.”]

Women Artists In Their Studios

Via Kickstarter:

Your generous support will make possible documentation of American Culture through the Visual Arts by my continuing to make portraits with a current emphasis on women artists. The ultimate goal is to realize 70 New Portraits of Women Artists.

The new Portraits of Women Artists project was begun with support from the Leff/Davis Fund for Visual Artists in October, 2014 through the Sacramento Region Community Foundation which funded the first 30 portraits.

Estimated time to complete 70 portraits, 1 year.

Women Artists In Their Studios 1



When I realize the $26,740 asked for, 70 New Women Artists will receive with your generous support:

  • A portrait session with me in the personal space of their choice.
  • An 11 X 14 inch archival permanent pigment print of the portrait we make together.
  • Free use of the portrait for self promotion and documentation.

Funding above $26,740 of $42,000 or higher would also support mounting an exhibition and producing a catalogue of all 70 new portraits, with stories about them and their work. Reaching this ultimate goal of $42,000 or more would insure each artist also receives:

  • A place in the exhibition of 70 new portraits of women artists.
  • A copy of the catalogue containing their portrait.

Women Artists In Their Studios 2


When I began making portraits of artists in 1979, sharing artists with the public in a personal, revealing way was my primary goal. My subject choices were made then seeking the most accomplished and well-known artists of the time as role-models for aspiring artists. What I discovered was that by doing this I was following the level of gender acceptance and appreciation in a world that left women begging for equal time and eye for their work. The most famous proved to be predominantly men. For example, I was given a list in 1980 by the curator for my first exhibition of artist portraits. The list contained 128 Northern California artists from which I could choose 35 to photograph for the 1981 exhibition. Only 30% on the list were women. That is how things were and I am working to make changes for women artists with this project.

Learn more about “Women Artists in Their Studios” Kickstarter campaign Here.


(cover photo credit: snap from Kickstarter)


  1. Thank you for this piece. With a little help from my friends in art my Kickstarter campaign to fund 70 new portraits of women artists will succeed. My web site is here: where you can view my full visual history. Peace, KURT

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