THE ERRATA PROJECT
Building on the conscious omission of women artists in the early editions of H.W. Janson’s History of Art, The Errata Project
takes the form of a continuously growing library archive dedicated to
female artists. The project is realized through participating
institutions as they collaborate with the public and construct a
related social platform. The Errata Project creates an instrument for
community involvement to maintain sustained dialogues about women in
art and society with the ultimate goal of sensitizing people at local
levels towards gender equality and positive changes.
we move toward the third decade of this century, social attitudes and
laws promoting male privilege endure. The art world is no exception.
This raises questions about mechanisms that have perpetuated inequality.
striking example is an art history textbook, first published in 1962
and endorsed by many universities, which sold millions of copies in 15
languages and set the standard for art history survey texts. A
renowned, yet prejudicial textbook, the early editions of H.W. Jansen's
History of Art excluded women from its pages for more than 20 years.
The Errata Project
uses an early edition of H.W. Jansen's History of Art as the foundation
of an ever-continuing erratum with annexed volumes dedicated to those
omitted historical female artists as well as today's female artists.
The erratum, a literal expansion on the concept, grows exponentially as
women's contributions are added to additional volumes, dwarfing the
original textbook that functions as a historical reference point and
reminder to the exclusive, counterproductive patriarchal bias that is
still perpetuated today.
erratum is housed in a participating institution's library. The
juxtaposition of the original book with a growing and much larger
erratum will create an installation of visual and philosophical
contrasts constituting a physical, community reference tool under the
name The Errata Project Archive. This archive will be available to the public for the study of women artists and their contributions.
Collecting data on female artists for The Errata Project Archive
is achieved through the participation of local institutions with
members of the community and art professionals. Credit will be given to
the authors of the included research. Involving local communities with
the actual production of its content will stimulate a larger discussion
of women's equality. As an evolving activity, The Errata Project will strive to create over time bonds within a broad cross-section of the local community.
the participation of curators, historians, docents, students and the
general public, research materials are compiled and vetted periodically
by a curatorial team to consider historical, contemporaneous, and
international as well as local women artists. As The Errata Project Archive grows, project collaborators will search out women artists yet to be added.
Programmed public discussions form an essential part of The Errata Project.
These talks, related to the lives of women artists and women's rights,
will build a community lexicon on the values women bring to art and
With each passing year, the growing Errata Project Archive and continuing public discussions aligned with The Errata Project
will raise awareness in participating communities about the importance
of gender equality to facilitate a foundation for positive action and
sustainable, positive change.
Montana to Mexico: the history of the Errata Project
May Collier (1871-1969) was an artist, a landscape painter. She was
captivated by the rugged landscapes in and around Glacier National
Park, Montana, where she painted her best-known work; Running Eagle “Trick” Falls.
May was born in Pennsylvania to the Watchman family who were of
German-Jewish descent. After her parents were killed in an accident,
she was adopted by the Calhoun family. In 1891, she married Charles
Collier and they traveled west to make a home in Kalispell, Montana,
where Charles worked for the railroad. Eda May gave birth to 10
children and even with the daunting task of raising such a large family
she found the time to paint.
Eda May Collier was my Great-Grandmother.
As a boy growing up, when I had the opportunity, I would study her painting Trick Falls. It inspired me.
my teens, while (not) doing homework at the public library, I
discovered the work of other women artists rummaging through art
magazines. By the time I took my first art history survey course, I was
already familiar with the work of Eva Hesse, Helen Frankenthaler,
Louise Nevelson, Agnes Martin, Kathe Kollwitz, Louise Bourgeois, among
The required text for this course was the book Janson’s History of Art.
After thumbing through it several times, I realized there were no women
artists included. Gender parity and women’s rights were not on my radar
at the time, but the total omission of women artists from an academic
textbook on art history seemed drastic and took me by surprise. I felt
cheated . . . and the book was not cheap. This revelation left an
indelible mark in my life.
As the years and then decades
passed, I would revisit this experience in my mind, contemplating, but
never successfully formulating, a sculptural project using Janson’s
One night I mentioned this experience to art
curator Pilar Perez as we left a dinner party where we had been
surprised by a comment made during the evening by a visiting artist who
stated that women were incapable of making great art.
This event brought my attention back to Janson’s History of Art and formed the impetus for The Errata Project (2017 - ) and Errata: Addition by Subtraction, 2021.
—Davis Birks, 2021
|Poster for the presentation of The Errata Project at Oficina de Proyectos Culturales, 2021|
Poster design: Jonathan Jackson Poe
Exhibition: The Errata Project
Oficina de Proyectos Culturales, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Marilyn Arsem/Alexander de Re, Judy Baca/ Alessandra Moctezuma, Heat Cassils/ Malgorzata Kazmierczak, María Eugenia Chellet/ Elia Espinosa, Judy Chicago/ Elroy Quenroe, Hung Liu/ Jeff Kelley, Guerilla Girls/ Christine Filippone, Vivian Maier/ Lisa Barlow, Marta MInujín/ César Cortés Vega, Martha Pacheco/ María Fernanda Matos, Kiki Smith/ Joao Rodríguez, Ireri Topete/ María Fernanda Matos, Kara Walker/ Pilar Pérez, Beatrice Wood/ Jonathan Jackson Poe
Curators: Richard Di Via, Pilar Pérez, and Paola Paz YeeNovember 19, 2021 - January 19, 2022