Female Forces: Hidden Histories of Art + Design

Course Description

The hidden histories course examines the careers of female pioneers and designers who enjoyed success in their lifetime but are somehow not included in the canon of American or global design. Design and architecture have been, and remain, professions dominated by men, however, women have always held principal roles. If so, why are the great female designers overshadowed by their male contemporaries? If you know where to look, the story of design is also the story of extraordinary women with extraordinary legacies that paved the way for generations in art. This course reclaims a place in history for some of the many female designers who contributed to the architecture, textile design, graphic design, costume, fashion, and film industries understanding their continued influence today. Particular attention is paid to the creative work of female artists traditionally marginalized by gender, race, or ethnicity throughout the globe in the Twentieth century.

During this course, you will learn to:

• Formulate and strengthen a fundamental understanding of interdisciplinary art and design history and its vocabulary. You will plan and carry out design research through journal entries and writing as opportunities to practice art and design journalism writing.
• Identify design movements and projects not widely known through the agenda of the hidden and suppressed narrative revolving around a gender-based analysis of art and its histories. Understanding gender as a system of power, this course addresses the many ways gender for both men and women constructed identities through art and design practices from the past 140 years.
• Apply your investigations within the RISD Museum of Art to view the trends visible throughout art history in the objects, paintings, and media. You will visit special collections to observe women’s historical contributions to the arts and explore the creative processes of individual artists and designers.
• You will interact meaningfully with your own insight to discover practices useful in producing your own diverse connections of design by developing critical thinking tools to analyze the contemporary design scene and how designers are pushing the boundaries of form, design, and identity. You will examine these designers and identify the characteristics necessary for achieving success as female entrepreneurs.

This art history course acts as an introduction to the cross-disciplinary analysis that will be required of you in a college setting. You are expected to bring curiosity to class discussions and participate collectively.


No specific prior experience or knowledge is required, however, you should be excited to explore the development of design history. The course will be an important reference for art and design students and those interested in art journalism, gender studies, and cultural history.


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: July 11, 2022 - July 22, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 3:30P-6:20P
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Holly Gaboriault
Course Number: 10179