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Art + Feminism aims to rewrite history through Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon

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Emily Meyer | Arcade Layout Editor
Newcomb Art Museum is hosting a Wiki Edit-a-thon, a program that teaches students how to edit Wikipedia articles. The campaign was started due to the lack of female Wikipedia editors and aims to fill a gap in content.

Wikipedia has more than 40 million articles online, but fewer than than 10 percent of its editors are women. Art + Feminism discovered this problem and posed an essential question: what happens when the people editing our history don’t look like us, don’t sound like us, don’t know our lived experience, don’t see the value in our history?

The result is a deficit in culture that tends to overlook underrepresented populations. This is where Art + Feminism’s Wiki Edit-a-thon comes in. The group seeks to improve the coverage of both cis and transgender women by providing a “do-it-yourself and do-it-with-others campaign teaching people of all gender identities and expressions to edit Wikipedia.”

The project came to Newcomb Art Museum through curator Laura Blereau’s experience with the three founders of the project.

“Their great resourcefulness and enthusiasm for increasing female authorship in online environments was contagious to me,” Blereau said. “The goals of Newcomb Art Museum are perfectly aligned with the agenda of this project which uses contemporary tools to increase the public visibility of women and the arts.”

The event will be held from 12-4 p.m. March 20 at Newcomb Art Museum. Students need only to bring their laptops, chargers and ideas. Newcomb will provide them with a step-by-step tutorial of how to create an account and edit information.

Miriam Taylor, external affairs manager of Newcomb Art Museum, spoke about the kind of edits participants will be making.

“A lot of it is just going in and double-checking all of the birth dates, death dates, things like that,” Taylor said. “Is it accurate? Is it missing? A lot of the times you’ll go in and research a female artist and there are two sentences, but we have more access, utilizing data bases from the university.”

By using university resources, students can help spread knowledge about female artists. This is especially relevant as Newcomb’s #5WomenArtistscampaign simultaneously runs. This project aims to highlight women in the arts, and the two projects pair together to create an initiative that recognizes and spreads the contribution women have made to the arts.

“Why do we not think about women artists?” Taylor asked. “Is it because we’re not taught about them? Is it because they weren’t recognized in the time period? It’s trying to make a correction. So we raise awareness that there are incredibly talented women in the arts and making sure that the information that’s out there about them is correct and legitimate.”

The campaign has relevancy both on campus and within the greater scope of the art world.

“Our goal is the empowerment of new voices on Wikipedia, especially as it relates to the arts and gender,” Blereau said.”We’d like to help erase any perceived technological barriers for participating in the Wiki community, and to particularly encourage authorship by women and their allies. As a university community, we can make important contributions toward Wikipedia’s documentation of cis women, transgender women, the arts and feminism.”

Correction 3/16/18: Newcomb’s campaign was incorrectly referred to as #5FemaleArtists. It is actually #5WomenArtists.

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
Art + Feminism aims to rewrite history through Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon