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Women's Museum exhibit will feature 'Groundbreaking Girls'

Women's Museum exhibit will feature 'Groundbreaking Girls'
Allison Adams' portrait of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. (Courtesy photo)

Artist Allison Adams was looking for inspiration after the death of her husband when she found it in a biography about Eleanor Roosevelt, the first lady and human-rights activist.

She painted a portrait of Roosevelt, then started thinking about other female history-makers, and painted them, too.

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Some two years later, she had 200 paintings of women both famous and not. Beginning Feb. 2, 40 of them will be displayed at the Women’s Museum of California, located in Liberty Station, in an exhibit called “Groundbreaking Girls.”

“As we listen to their voices,” Adams wrote on her website, “we are reminded of our heritage as women and girls: passionate, courageous, determined, innovative, intelligent, creative, caring, fierce.”

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The San Clemente artist started the portfolio in 2016 after her husband died. He had been injured a few years earlier in a motor vehicle accident, “and as I began to focus on the next chapter of my life as a single woman, I found strength and empowerment in the stories of trailblazing women through history,” Adams recalled.

After painting Roosevelt, her portfolio grew to include women from a wide array of professions and activities. There are paintings of scientists (Maria Goeppert-Mayer, Marie Curie, Katherine Johnson) and paintings of singers (Aretha Franklin, Edith Piaf, Joni Mitchell).

There are paintings of athletes (Althea Gibson, Nadia Comaneci, Billie Jean King) and paintings of activists (Susan B. Anthony, Malala Yousafzai, Ida B. Wells).

And there are paintings of writers, artists, lawyers, dancers, journalists, teachers and others.

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Adams uses “Girls” in the title of the exhibit because “we were all girls once.”

She added, “They had to have something in them at a young age that gave them an extra confidence and passion to go against the system and do the brave things they did.”

The paintings will be on display through April 28.

Established in 1983 as the Women’s History Reclamation Project, the Women’s Museum of California uses exhibits, educational programs and community engagement to “bring untold stories of remarkable women to light.”

It’s open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. General admission is $5, with $2 discounts for students and seniors. Members of the military and children under age 12 are admitted free.

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