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February 20, 2004

Faces of Renowned Women to be Exhibited at Smith College Library

Editor's note: For a high-res image of one of Stein's portraits, e-mail

NORTHAMPTON -- The faces of some of the most influential American women in the past 35 years are the subjects of a revealing exhibition at Morgan Gallery in Neilson Library, Smith College.

Depictions of Gloria Steinem, Margaret Sanger, Bella Abzug, Flo Kennedy, and Billie Jean King are among the portraits in "The Face: An Obsession (Three Decades)," an exhibition of works by New York artist and feminist Linda Stein.

The exhibition, which will be on display from Feb. 28 through March 30 in commemoration of Women's History Month, is sponsored and curated by the college's Sophia Smith Collection.

Stein, a prominent and sometimes radical activist in the women's movement and other political causes in New York since the 1970s, has published and spoken extensively about art and feminism, as well as many other topics. She has agreed to donate her diaries and sketchbooks to the Sophia Smith Collection's permanent holdings.

Stein's "mood portraits," as she refers to the works in "The Face," are a colorful collection of watercolor reflections that alter the appearances of her famous subjects by casting them using a range of lively color, shape and background combinations.

Her work "Gloria 449," for example, is an effective depiction of Steinem that captures the renowned feminist's public evolution with juxtapositions of pattern and color. "Bella 408" offers whimsical reflections of a smiling Abzug in a three-dimensional format.

Stein was first attracted to the face as an art motif in the 1970s. One of her first portraits, which will be included in the Smith exhibit, is of Virginia Woolf. "I became completely focused on the face, and insatiable," she said recently. "I became a face addict. For me, the pencil line of the nose slowly making the turn from its vertical descent to horizontal arc, has been grippingly sensual. An active feminist, I enjoy making portraits of internationally beloved women."

For more information on Stein, consult

The Morgan Gallery, named for Constance Morrow Morgan, a 1935 Smith graduate, is located in the entrance corridor of Neilson Library. For library hours, consult


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