Bailey Doogan, a painter and feminist, was the first woman to teach in the art department at the University of Arizona. Bailey came to feminism because of the difficulty she found being a woman in the art world. Bailey’s work has never received the recognition it deserves, and she has been attacked for portraying the reality of aging women’s bodies, “scary” to some critics, but for her the work has always been about “beauty” and getting past “shame about the body.” One person went so far as to call her simply “an angry aging bitch,” a phrase she later reclaimed and incorporated into self-portraits.
A recent set of life-size self portraits hangs in her studio (right and above), and is called “Self-Examination.” Bailey has battled with various illnesses over the last year, challenging her sense of identity and stability. As we leave Bailey’s, both Nona and I wonder what issues become important to feminists as they grow older, and have to deal with a corrupt healthcare system and a society that idolizes youth. We just are glad there are artists like Bailey to keep women visible, at all ages.