The Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon, hosted by the Art and Museum Library and Information Student Society allowed people to add or improve Wikipedia articles on women in art. Tuesday’s edit-a-thon took place in the Sloane Art Library of Hanes Art Center.
The movement began last year and this year’s Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon took place at the Museum of Modern Art in New York on March 7, the day before International Women’s Day. With over 1,500 participants in more than 17 countries, the event resulted in the creation of 400 new Wikipedia pages and the revision of 500 existing articles.
A 2011 Wikimedia survey found that less than 13 percent of its contributors are female, which has translated to a gender bias in Wikipedia articles according to Heather Gendron, the head of the Sloane Art Library.
“You would think with this whole new tool out there to document our history, that we would have learned that women’s voices need to be heard and their history documented,” Gendron said.
The event focused on female artists, specifically from North Carolina, including UNC faculty who are also visual artists.
“I see these women as not only important to our local history, but many of them are prominent regionally, nationally, even globally,” Gendron said. “It’s important that we have documentation of their legacy.”
Kim Henze, president of the Art and Museum Library and Information Student Society, said events like this are necessary because of the growing dependency on quick, online sources.
“Wikipedia is becoming an increasingly important repository of shared knowledge,” Henze said. “Our goal is to make sure that the information they get is both good and full.”
No specialized knowledge was required as a prerequisite to attending the edit-a-thon, which was open to the public.
“Editing Wikipedia seems like such a small thing, but then you read about the huge fights people have had about editing Wikipedia pages and you realize it does have an effect on the wider world,” said JJ Bauer, the visual resources curator for UNC’s art department.
Bauer said the workshop was a way to help people be proactive in social issues both on and offline.
“These conversations are happening in person but also online and you need to be a productive part of that conversation,” Bauer said.
“While women and gender studies have made such important strides in the academic world, we are still having to work very hard to get women artists recognized, have their work more accessible and their lives and careers more accessible.”
Gendron said she sees these events as useful tools for inspiring more female voices to contribute to the online history.
“It’s a matter of getting the word out and giving people the training to feel motivated and empowered.”