WARM artists

Judith Roode: The Initiation of the WARM Mentor Program

by Debra Ripp

Judith Roode  holds a B.A. from Grinnell College and an  M.F.A. from the University of Iowa University of Iowa.  She has exhibited her figure drawings in invitational exhibitions at such institutions as: The Women’s Interact Center, New York City; Art Institute of Boston; Cincinnati Art Museum; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; and in a Kentucky Arts Commission traveling exhibition. Her work is published in Nathan Goldstein’s 5th edition of The Art of Responsive Drawing (Simon & Schuster, 1999) and A Drawing Handbook (Prentice Hall, 1986). Her work is included in the collections of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Weisman Art Museum, Tweed Museum and the Minnesota Historical Society.

In 1992 she retired as a Professor from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design due to a debilitating illness

The 30 year old WARM Mentor Program which began in 1982 is the brainchild of Judith Roode.
We were honored that Judith spoke to WARM members recently about this issue at the November WARM coffee held at the Gifted and Guided Mentor/Protégé exhibition, which was hung in the Bottling House in northeast Minneapois.   The WARM Mentor Program promotes strong female artists models.  The mission of the program is to insure that women are full participants in the development of visual arts and culture in this community and society.  The WARM Mentor Program has served more than 450 women artists, some of whom have gone on to become strong role models in the professional Art world.  The compelling question for Judith at that time was: Why are there no mentors for women artists in the Art community?  The Art program at the University of Minnesota at that time was still an old boys network and there was no real support for woman artists.   After all there were only two women faculty members hired as professors at that time in the whole of undergraduate and graduate programs.  She didn’t want to be in their position or be like them. The choices then were pretty limited.  Because of the lack of female support students that happened to be women were not taken very seriously by most of the male faculty.  A large part of the lively discussion at the WARM Coffee consisted of comments on how the WARM Mentor/Protégé program was started,  how it is going at present and what the future of the program involves.    Women artists who have participated praise it highly and express that it literally saved their lives in some instances!   There are issues in the lives of women artists that need to be addressed such as finding the place and time for their work, finding funds, support and recognition, let alone justifying and defending their thesis and reasons for making their work a priority in their lives.  Judith stated that it was harder for women at that time than it ever was for men. But that fact made the need for a support network even more necessary.  The WARM Mentorship program has become very well known since its inception and many other programs around the country have utilized it as a model for their own supportive networks for emerging artists.

The future of the Mentor program emerged in the discussion with question about the inclusion of men in the program.  This is obviously a touchy issue since the program has historically been a program for women artists and the organization would like to preserve that identity for the program. However, some of the comments and questions that came up concerned future funding and srtistic support for artists in general.  Securing grant funding in this day and age often involves making the program available for all populations, also it might seem hypocritical if we were judging applications on gender rather than merit: the need for support should not depend on gender but merit of the work.

This is a discussion that will continue for the organization and the Mentor Committee.