a project by Andrea Geyer. 2012 - ongoing

Matilde N. was a Swedish artist and one of five members of De Fem, a spiritualist group that met during the 1890s. Artists Hilma af Klimt, Anna Cassel, Sigrid Hedman, and Cornelia Cederberg were also members of the group. Also called the Friday Group, they began as an ordinary spiritualist group that received messages through a psychograph (an instrument for recording spirit writings) or a trance medium. They met in each other’s homes and studios. During the Friday Group’s séances spirit leaders presented themselves by name and promised to help the group’s members in their spiritual training; such leaders are common in spiritualist literature and life. Through its spirit leaders the group was inspired to draw automatically in pencil, a technique that was not unusual at that time. When the hand moved automatically, the conscious will did not direct the pattern that developed on the paper, and, in theory, the women became artistic tools for their spirit leaders. In a series of sketchbooks, religious scenes and symbols were depicted in drawings made by the group collectively. Their drawing technique developed in such a way that abstract patterns—dependent on the free movement of the hand—became visible.

Ethel Ray Nance (1899–1992) was an African-American civil rights activist. One of her earliest jobs was with the Minnesota State Relief Commission and by 1923 she earned national recognition for becoming a secretary in the Minnesota State Legislature, becoming the first African American to do so. She was later a secretary at the local chapter of the Urban League in Kansas City. She became a research assistant at Opportunity magazine, an outlet for black expression in the arts, after moving to New York in 1924.

Hanna Nagel (1907-1975) was a German, illustrator, graphic designers, and author of children’s books. She was interested in the New Objectivity as a movement and contributed to its history immensely. In 1925, Hanna studied at the Baden State Art School in Karlsruhe, Germany and mastered techniques of etching, lithography, and drawing. Her figurative drawings and portraits captured immense expressive power within the control of the line and markmaking. The mercilessly naturalistic depictions also ornamented the covers of literature and children's books. Her work was also considered controversial as it was reinforced gender roles within the family no engaging in a socially critical philosophical stance as in the other work within the New Objectivity movement. In the last 30 years of her life, she suffered from issues with chronic pain, including pain in her arms. She underwent surgery on her arm and started to draw from her right hand. The large amount of work Hanna left behind was privately acquired. An art prize in her honor has been awarded annually to Karlsruhe artists since 1998.

Alla Nazimova (1879–1945) was a Russian-American film and theater actress, screenwriter, and film producer. She is perhaps best known as simply Nazimova, but also went under the name Alia Nasimoff. She emigrated from the Russian Empire and in 1927 became a naturalized citizen of the United States. She was considered a great performer of Ibsen on Broadway. She was also influential in the film industry in the silent era and continued to play character roles until the end of her life.

Agnes Nestor (1878–1948) was an American labor leader, politican, and social reformer best remembered for her leadership roles in the International Glove Workers Union and the Women’s Trade Union League where she organized for workers’ rights and women’s suffrage. As a teenager, Nestor found work at Chicago’s Eisendrath Glove Company where she later led a successful strike of women workers that earned them a raise in pay, the end to having to rent their own machines, and the implementation of a union shop. In 1902 her union organization at the Chicago factory would become the International Glove Workers Union. Her leadership in the union extended to her work in women’s clubs, recruiting wealthier women to their cause. She became an active member in the Women’s Trade Union of Chicago and became its president in 1913, working to secure better working conditions, a reduced workday, a living wage and full citizenship for women. At the Women’s Trade Union League, Nestor worked alongside prominent women labor leaders Mary Kenny O’Sullivan, Jane Addams, Mary McDowell, Margaret Haley, Helen Marot, Florence Kelley, and Sophonisba Breckinridge. Together they were able to lobby, fundraise, and organize the WTUL into an influential and transformative organization. Nestor actively opposed child labor and was also instrumental in helping to craft the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917, which provided the first federal aid for vocational education.

Louise Nevelson (1899 –1988) was an American sculptor known for her monumental, wooden wall pieces and outdoor sculptures. Nevelson was born in Russia but her family immigrated to the United States in the early twentieth century. She attended the Art Students League in New York during the 1930s. Nevelson experimented with found objects and dabbled in painting and printing before dedicating her practice to sculpture. Her first exhibition was in 1941, and it quickly established her in the international art scene. Nevelson played a key role in the feminist art movement, examining femininity in art and challenging stereotypes of what types of work women could create. A common symbol that appears in Nevelson’s work is the bride, referring to Nevelson’s own escape from matrimony in her early life and her independence thereafter. Nevelson is listed on the Heritage Floor, among other famous women, in Judy Chicago’s 1974–1979 masterpiece The Dinner Party.

Ruby Warren Newby (1886–1952) was an artist and educator born in Goff, Kansas. She studied at Southern College in Lakeland, Florida, where she was a pupil of Kathryn Cherry. Her primary medium was painting, and she specialized in landscapes while teaching block-printing courses. In her later life, she directed the 261 Art Gallery in Tucson, Arizona. Much of the documentation of her life is held at the Arizona Historical Society Library.

Florence Newcomb (1881–1943) was a painter and teacher. She studied at the Art Students League and Columbia University in New York.

Pauline Newman (1887–1986) was a labor activist born in Kovno, Russian Empire (present-day Kaunas, Lithuania). As a young girl, Newman was denied an education by the public school but argued her way into Jewish Sunday school classes. Newman, along with her mother and sisters, relocated to New York City in 1901, and she began working at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Newman became interested in worker-poetry she read in the socialist Yiddish press and organized study groups that met after work. In 1907 Newman helped organize a successful rent strike in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Shortly thereafter, she became the first full-time woman organizer of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. Newman was also a member of the Women’s Trade Union League. In 1917 when the League sent her to Philadelphia to build a new branch, she met her lifelong partner, Frieda Miller, with whom she raised a daughter in Greenwich Village. Although taboo for the time, the couple was accepted by their colleagues, including Eleanor Roosevelt. In the 1930s and ’40s, Newman served as an advisor to the United States Department of Labor, as well as the vice president of the Women’s Trade Union League.

Sarah Newmeyer was a publicist for the Museum of Modern Art, New York, from 1933 to 1948. She was expertly savvy, bestowing a golden touch of popularity to exhibitions at the museum and those that toured nationally. Her first press release resulted in the creation of a special U.S. Postal Service stamp featuring the artwork. She roused the public by describing artists in sentimental detail or mentioning the insurance value of loaned artworks. Crowds could be so wild that MoMA required police backup and floodlights for unpacking artwork. In 1947, shortly before her departure from the museum, MoMA was receiving more attention than any other museum open at the time: roughly ten times as much publicity as any other museum and probably more than all the museums in North America combined. When Newmeyer left the museum in 1948, Nelson Rockefeller noted, “She has been a pioneer in this field.” Newmeyer was also the author of Enjoying Modern Art, an educational book describing the significance of canonical works of art.

A. H. Nijhoff (1897–1971) is the pen name of Dutch author Antoinette Hendrika Nijhoff Wind. She studied in Utrecht and The Hague and settled in Paris in 1929, where she met the British visual artist Marlow Moss. The two became lovers and moved to the Netherlands in 1940 at the start of World War II. Moss returned to England, but the pair reunited at the end of the war. Nijhoff’s novels include Two Girls and I, Fellow Travelers, and Birth. Because she consciously destroyed most records and correspondence, little more is known about her personal life.

Helen J. Niles (c.1866–c.1930s) was a painter and illustrator. Niles was active in Ohio from 1887 to 1913, until her inclusion in the 1913 Armory Show. Having studied at the Academy of Art in Toledo, Ohio, she specialized in portraits, landscapes, and decorative paintings. In the early 1900s Niles illustrated a book by Josephine Scribner Gates called The Doll that Was Lost and Found.

Elisabeth Noltenius (1888–1964) was a German painter and graphic artist who achieved fame as a portraitist. One of the most fascinating Bremen artists of her time, she studied with Hans am Ende and Clara Rilke-Westhoff in Worpswede and then at the Women’s Academy in Munich. World War I brought her tragic losses: both brothers were killed, and her sister died from typhus contracted working as a hospital nurse. In 1919, her fiancé was shot dead in Munich during the Räterepublik; later that year her father died. Noltenius returned to Bremen impoverished and had to support herself and her mother by making money with her art. In her studios in Bremen and nearby Meyenburg, Noltenius painted landscapes, still lifes, and portraits that testify to her intensive exploration of contemporary art. In the 1920s and ’30s, she undertook study trips to Italy, Spain, Hungary, and Norway, and studied for some time in Berlin and Paris. After the Nazis came to power, Noltenius curated three exhibitions of her friend Dora Bromberger, who, despite her efforts, was later deported and killed in a concentration camp. In 1944 her studio in Bremen was hit by bombs, destroying a large part of her paintings. After the war, she built a small workshop in Meyenburg.

Marion Anderson Noyes (1907–2002) was an American designer and silversmith whose work is in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.
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