Ethel Reed: I Am My Own Property
Ethel Reed shot to fame in 1895 as a fresh talent in the poster world, became the darling of the international press in a matter of months, and then disappeared from public life by 1898.
Until recently, scholars only knew her as the best of a very small number of women poster designers at the turn of the century, creating light-hearted, decorative advertisements for literary publications primarily based in Boston. While contemporary critics have often dismissed her work as cheerful fluff and her talent as less notable than that of her male counterparts, both news articles of the time and her personal correspondence reveal a heavily autobiographical, oftentimes dark and defiant, thread running through her illustrations.
Her life and work represent the struggles of being a female artist in the male-dominated art world of the late 19th century, while also touching on issues of class, addiction, mental health, conservative societal expectations, and sexuality.
The exhibition comes to Poster House through a generous loan from Thomas G. Boss.