Women-centric art displayed at the Quad City International Airport


Phea Gonzalez

Photo Above: Heidi Hernandez, Lorna, 20”x 20”, oil on canvas. Photo by Bri Berndt.
The Quad City International Airport has begun to hold an art exhibit called “A Portrait of Remarkable Women,” focused on celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
The gallery is situated in a small section of the airport near the short-term parking lot. A total of 47 pieces are on display in a free to view area, the only cost being the $1  parking.
There is little information on many of the pieces around the exhibit save for its name and price, leaving the interpretation up to the viewer. A majority of works are paintings of the faces or figures of women, but there are also a fair amount of sculptures and multimedia art pieces. These take a more figurative approach to what it means to be a woman for the artists who had their pieces placed in the showing.
All of the art on display is available to be purchased, from around $200 and up to $20,000 for the largest pieces.
The standout of the showcase are a set of six paintings by Cecile Houel, a native Iowan. Her collection focuses on remarkable women in history who have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, including figures such as Malala Yousafzai, Jane Adams and Leymah Gbowee. Houel views her work as a tribute to these figures.
“Honor their will and dedication to make a better world with strength, courage, and creativity,” Houel said.
Heidi Hernandez, another Iowan painter, had a large focus at the exhibit, making up 24 of the pieces shown. She poses several questions about the unfairness of how women are treated and viewed in the world compared to their male counterparts. Hernandez believes her pieces show the hard work that women go through everyday.
“Despite roles and expectations imposed on them from the moment they were born, these females continue to achieve,” Hernandez said.

Heidi Hernandez, Yoko, 20”x 20”, oil on canvas. Photo by Bri Berndt.

Indeed, her pieces, which focus exclusively on the faces of women with dull colors, with the occasional pop of pinks or blues, show women of various appearances. Hernandez says all the women are united by the fact they are judged unfairly based on stereotypes and bias.
Lisa L. Mahar’s art pops out against everything else in the show, the bright colors mixing together to create a piece that cannot be looked away from. In many ways, Mahar sees her work and personal life go hand in hand with each other.
“My goal as a woman and an artist is to be kind to others and to put happiness and joy out into the world,” Mahar said.
“A Portrait of Remarkable Women” runs until Oct. 31.