Looking at the Cosmos through a Feminine Lens

A quilt from the Shape/View series: 2015-2017, all works hand-stitched cotton View III 43x57 in. Courtesy of the artist and Elizabeth Leach GalleryA quilt from the Shape/View series: 2015-2017, all works hand-stitched cotton View III 43x57 in. Courtesy of the artist and Elizabeth Leach Gallery
Harvard Magazine
November 8, 2018
By Oset Bab├╝r

In a new exhibition at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, artist Anna Von Mertens uses both drawings and hand-stitched quilts to focus on the life and work of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, A.B. 1892, a female astronomer and “computer” who studied glass-plate astronomical photographs at Harvard a century ago, and whose work led to the first method of measuring distances between stars.

The craftsmanship throughout the exhibit, titled Measure, is careful and meticulous, but Von Mertens, a textile artist, said she hesitates when she hears the word “patient.” “I think [that word] can be very gendered and sort of passive…but it’s not a sweet and passive action to be patient—it’s an active, constant engagement in whatever you’re doing. I notice that nobody ever describes men’s work as patient.”

Read the full article at the Harvard Magazine website.

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