Rowan University Art Gallery

Groundbreaking: The Women of the Sylvia Sleigh Collection

Opening Reception: Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, 5:30 - 7:30 pm

"Groundbreaking: The Women of the Sylvia Sleigh Collection"

August 29 – October 1, 2011

Opening Reception:  Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, 5:30 – 7:30 pm


Throughout September, the Rowan University Art Gallery will feature The Sylvia Sleigh Collection, a group of nearly 100 works by more than 50 women artists. The collection was amassed by Sylvia Sleigh (1916-2010), a pioneering feminist and well-known painter of portraits and male nudes. By purchase and exchange, Sleigh accumulated numerous paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and photographs by other women. Her interest in the art of accomplished women, regardless of commercial success or critical acclaim, allowed her to assemble a truly significant and varied group of works. She hoped to encourage the artists and recognize their achievements, which led her to exhibit selections from her collection at SoHo 20 Gallery in 1999. Shortly before her death, Sleigh offered to donate her entire collection to the Rowan University Art Gallery.  The artists in the collection include: Cecile Abish, Anne Abrons, Dotty Attie, Helène Aylon, Roseanne Backstedt, Emily Barnett, Linda Bastian, Judith Bernstein, Blythe Bohnen, Louise Bourgeois, Diane Burko, Ann Chernow, Barbara Coleman, Rosalyn Drexler, Martha Edelheit, Audrey Flack, Ruth Ann Fredenthal, Joan Glueckman, Shirley Gorelick, Nancy Grossman, Jane Henry, Phyllis Janto, Lila Katzen, Irene Krugman, Diana Kurz, Bibi Len?ek, Marian Lerner Levine, Jill Mackie, Cynthia Mailman, Rosemary Mayer, Katherine Miller, Sabra Moore, Vernita Nemec, Betty Parsons, Stephanie Rauschenbusch, Ce Roser, Phyllis Rosser, Lucy Sallick, Rhea Sanders, Lisa Schwartzberg, Rosalind Shaffer, Susan Sills, Eileen Spikol, Michelle Stuart, Paula Tavins, Selina Trieff, Audrey Ushenko, Pegeen Vail, Freda Wadsworth, Marjorie Wadsworth, Marie Warsh, Louise Weinberg, Jacqueline Wray, Sharon Wybrants.

In addition to The Sylvia Sleigh Collection, the gallery will exhibit several nine-foot canvases – including Alice Neel's Bella Abzug (1976) and Sylvia Sleigh's Lilith (1976) – which were part of The Sister Chapel, a major collaborative installation by thirteen women artists. The project, which premiered in 1978, was conceived by Ilise Greenstein as a secular, nonhierarchical circle of monumental paintings that celebrate heroic women. Among the contributors were Martha Edelheit, Shirley Gorelick, Diana Kurz, Cynthia Mailman, and Sharon Wybrants, all of whom are likewise featured in The Sylvia Sleigh Collection. Sylvia Sleigh's Lilith was donated to the Rowan University Art Gallery by her estate and Neel's Bella Abzug was recently gifted by an anonymous donor.


Acquisition of the collection was made possible by Dr. Andrew Hottle, Professor of Art History, Department of Art, College of Fine and Performing Arts.