Cultural Housekeepers: Elizabeth Otis Dunn and American Women’s Organizations in Early Twentieth Century China and America

Katerina Lagassé

American artist Elizabeth Otis Dunn (1888-1956) had an artistic career that was anchored in her time spent in metropolitan centres in two distinct nations: the United States and in China. The congruent receptions of Otis Dunn’s watercolour sketches of Chinese Children within the American Women’s Association in New York and the American Women’s Club in Shanghai, are indicative of the interaction between modernity, art, feminism, nationalism and imperialism.1 These overlapping forms of power were not articulated in any texts discussing American female artists in China during this epoch; however, these concepts are threaded into the contemporary subconscious, seeking to contextualize the social and artistic landscape of the time.

Otis Dunn is framed within the trajectory of women’s acceptance into professionalized, institutional artistic practices that occurred as a result of feminist discourses from the nineteenth and early twentieth century. By positioning Otis Dunn within her historical context, her portrayals of Chinese Children can be framed as symptoms of the ways in which an expatriate community, particularly groups or clubs of artists, would create the visualization of a foreign community on behalf of their home country. In order to locate and perhaps to some degree subjugate the foreign entity, the ‘Other’ was depicted and made visible through images. Otis Dunn’s portraits, A Chinese Boy and Chinese Babyhood, echo the role American women were permitted to play as professional artists during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, both at home and in a foreign context. Otis Dunn’s sympathetic renderings of Chinese children indicate, shape and participate in a visual vocabulary of a cultural ‘Other’ articulated by American imperialism and circulated by newly formed American women’s organizations.

Otis Dunn’s two watercolour sketches, Chinese Babyhood and A Chinese Boy, are innocent depictions of the anonymous children of Shanghai. The little round child illustrated in Chinese Babyhood stands in the centre of the otherwise vacant frame. His hands are calmly clasped together over his abdomen. His clothing denotes traditional dress: a tangerine coloured tunic and blue pants, while his head is adorned with a playful cap with two white pieces of fur flapping on each side. His shoes are slipper-like with animal faces on the toes. He stares forward out of the frame, as if posing for a photograph. A Chinese Boy represents possibly an older peasant child. This boy is standing with his body slightly turned facing the left side of the frame. Like the child in Chinese Babyhood, a muted background surrounds his body. His hands are tucked into the floral pouch of his red tunic on his abdomen. The grey pants he is wearing are covered with two blue patterned patches and a third brown one. Red socks peek out of his pointed slippers. Both sides of his head are shaved, leaving a midsection patch of hair on his exposed scalp. He is looking to the right of the frame. Both of these images are ambiguous not only in their titles but in their portrayals as well.

The simple renderings of the children are cute, yet unsettling. The children are represented as slightly uncomfortable, reserved and shy. The absence of a background leaves no indication as to the context of where or why they are being portrayed. These images are significant because of the anonymity and ambiguity they envoke in relation to the acclaimed reception of this type of work produced and displayed by Otis Dunn in Shanghai with The American Women’s Club [AWC] and in New York with The American Women’s Association [AWA]. By historically contextualizing these images along with their author, a plethora of intersecting questions and narratives unravel and frame the images, which function as cultural capital. In what historical context did American women’s organizations emerge?

During the nineteenth and early twentieth century, art facilitated the presence and furthered the visibility of the women’s movement at the forefront of high culture and the public eye.2 Accepting women as active participants in the creation of visuality, the “visual culture of modernity” offered an emblematic alternative to the notion of ‘the artist’ as a masculine subject.3 While opportunities emerged for female artists, these shifts in power also inherently circumscribed female artists and organizations as political entities. Female artistic visibility, within the public discourse, was formalized through domestic politics, such as women’s rights movements. The production of visual culture was inherently connected to national politics: power was seeded and invested in representation and American imperialistic endeavors in China.4 The inauguration for visual producers into the public sphere and their subsequent recognition was significant and developed in tandem with conceptions of modern American society.

Nineteenth century America was indicative of the growing middle-class, a liberal society fostering the proliferation, expansion and accessibility to educational institutions, while promoting the arts.5 Educational and cultural institutions within the American liberal society were what churches had been to Christianity.6 However, their doctrine was universalism, a concept fundamental to imperial expansion.7 Nineteenth century America lauded ideals of “meritocratic individualism” and the “creative imagination” that permeated artistic discourse.8

The building of American culture and its presence as a colonial and imperialist power was arguably sustained by women’s labour.9 Traditional skills associated with feminine domesticity were utilized in industrial textile production.10 The participation of women in the work force simultaneously created the need for social organizations advocating for their rights, such as the Female Labour Reform Association of 1845.11  Dissenting movements such as this were evident during the nineteenth century; however they were directed towards mitigating social problems rather than focusing on the power relationship between genders.12 Women’s movements formed as counter cultural movements, as an informal response to the inequalities presented by hegemonic norms, and specifically inequalities faced by women. Such movements made women visible as participating subjects in the public sphere.

Victorian conceptions of private and public space were eroding in part due to women’s participation in reform movements, such as the universal suffrage and the abolition of slavery.13 The changing relations of public and private or domestic spaces shaped the experience of female artists, enabling more women to begin professional art careers. Women started entering art schools in greater numbers during the mid-nineteenth century after the American Civil War of 1861–1865.14 Affluent families had often encouraged their young women to draw as it was considered “an important accomplishment for a lady.”15 But with the expansion of the middle-class and the changing work force dynamic, women entered art academies with the aim of integrating professional exhibition societies and clubs within the art market, thus promoting artistic merit. Fine arts offered the possibility for women to be financially independent and autonomous subjects within a respected profession.16

Two specific expositions representing female artists, The Centennial Exposition (1876) and The World’s Columbian Exposition (1893), placed Otis Dunn within an episteme. The presence of elite women within feminist movements made the cause visible within a higher cultural sphere: the arts. The Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia was a celebration of “a century of progress.” 17 A women’s pavilion exhibited 1500 women from at least thirteen different countries showcasing their achievements in a plurality of professions.18 Nearly two decades later, The World’s Columbian Exposition opened in Chicago. It was a landmark event in American history and culture and showcased all the progresses of man.19 Between 1876 and 1893, exhibitions showed the evolution of a stronger organization and solidified identity within and amongst women’s groups. Many different women’s organizations worked together to ensure that the display denoted equality. The building, designed by architect Sophia Hayden, rendered it a literal embodiment of women’s achievements.20 A statement written about the expo by the official edition of Art and Handicraft in the building read: “The World’s Columbian Exposition has afforded woman an unprecedented opportunity to present to the world a justification of her claim to be placed on complete equality with man.”21 This event marked the institutionalization of women’s work and of their art. Art was a primary access point for this expression. Artifacts were gathered from around the world to demonstrate women “as originators of most of the industrial arts.”22

Textiles from Native North American, Polynesian and African Tribes were leant by the Smithsonian Institute for display.23 Although recognized as a monumental exhibition, it was heavily criticized. Femininity seemed to be the primary aspect of inclusion while merit was secondary, as many “amateur artists” were included in the display.24 The all-encompassing exhibition practice exemplified the ideology of the time, that is, the modern American ideals of progress. This kind of thinking inherently imposes universal, homogenizing conceptions of cultural production across international geographies. As participants in the monumental ‘world fair’ model of exhibition, the aim was to render visible the achievements of women within what can be viewed as a culturally flattening atmosphere. The holistic and universal approach focused on visibility for women within the American public. However it also emphasized Americans on an international scale, as they imposed systemic inequalities and values on other nations whose artifacts, objects and achievements were categorized as such, and subsequently included in their exhibitions.

A prominent historian of the time stated “women would never again be excluded on the ground of mental inferiority” as the building was indicative of a “case of what women have done and are doing in the cause of their sex, in the cause of the home, of education, charity, science, art and in every branch of human endeavor.”25 These exhibitions measured the strong social organization amongst women, mainly those coming from middle-class and affluent backgrounds in America. They also signaled a re-formulation of a social identity that enriched a sense of self for the woman artist. The various women’s organizations negotiated access and recognition in formerly masculine dominated spaces. These achievements represented the “counter civil society of alternative, woman-only, voluntary associations” and recognition of their social agency in the public both locally as well as within an international discourses.26 Binary conceptions of progress/tradition, feminine/masculine and local/global can be seen functioning within the exhibition spaces of The Centennial Exposition (1876) and The World’s Columbian Exposition (1893).

As a result of these monumental exhibitions, and of the pressure from women’s associations and clubs, spaces for women were increasingly carved out by galleries, dealers and academies.27 Such organizations mandated “education, charity, reform and professional affiliation.”28 The grassroots reform movements produced by ‘socially subordinate subjects’ earlier in the century set the precedent for the proliferation of feminist organizations that would continue to be formalized, bureaucratized as powerful public women’s associations, notably the A.W.A. [1911-1974]29 in metropolitan centres such as New York. These groups were led by affluent women whose philanthropic and political tendencies mandated the social role the organizations played. Otis Dunn’s biography illustrates her subjectivity within this changing context where education was valued as a “solution to occupational inequality”30 and where art was a primal sphere for women to form public identities through feminist organizations.

The image of the new female artist was inherited by the first wave, exemplified by the 1876 and 1893 exhibitions and notable American artists such as Cecilia Beaux and Mary Cassatt.31 It is a time historically categorized as Modernity, marked by the “phase of socio-aesthetics of modernism”, that is, the expression of the nature of experience and the real and the seminal idea that “art could go farther than imitation.”32 Modernism became indicative of the many art movements emerging and disrupting formal academic training and traditional aesthetics. What was significant about Modernism’s ability to encompass many singular forms of expression was that women were granted access to formal training and professional careers in the arts in tandem with an evolving art sphere. The movement produced new aesthetic forms, constructing different barriers and difficulties in access to its insular market and avant-garde discourse.33 Otis Dunn’s access to a formal art education and the pursuit of a career in the field both at home and abroad is connected to the substantial transformations in American Culture of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Otis Dunn was born in Byberry, Philadelphia, in 1888.34 Her mother was Marianna Walmsley (1856-1891) and her father was Gorham Otis (1850-1922).35 Her mother’s grandfather was a preacher at the small Orthodox Friends Meeting farmhouse built in 1828 in Byberry.36 A record indicates Otis Dunn’s father, Gorham Otis, was also a prominent farmer, an assumption based on the fact his taxes indicated he had three Irish servants.37 Thus, she came from a seemingly middle-class upbringing in a family whose religious affiliation as Quakers place Dunn within a socially liberal minded household. Such an environment seemingly nourished artistry. During her childhood, and her brother, Samuel Davis Otis, would draw pictures as their pastime.38 Samuel became an illustrator sculptor, textile printer, etcher and was also a graduate from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.39 He was a well-known fashion illustrator for publications such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.40 Her aunt, Amy Otis (1863-1950), was a portraitist and miniaturist, as well as the first of the family documented to have been educated at the Academy.41

Otis Dunn studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1906 to 1908.42 Amongst the well known American faculty were: William M. Chase, with whom she studied drawing from the life front; Cecilia Beaux, with whom she studied portraiture; and Henry McCarter, with whom she studied illustrations.43 After her graduation from the Academy, Otis Dunn opened a studio in Philadelphia where she illustrated for periodicals (American Magazine, Woman’s Home Companion and the Ladies’ Home Journal)44 as well as for children’s book publishers located in Philadelphia, Boston and New York. The Polly Prentis series of children’s books as well as a book titled The Bailey Twins and the Rest of the Family were published in 1914.45 Otis Dunn showed at the annual exhibition, watercolors, prints and drawings in 1911 and 1912.46 She was also a member of The Plastics Club from 1911 to 1915.47 The termination of Otis Dunn’s membership with The Plastics Club was the result of her subsequent departure for Shanghai with her husband, architect William Allen Dunn.48 Otis Dunn was in China from 1916-1927, living in both Shanghai and Peking.49 From 1927-1932 the Dunn’s returned to the United States before moving between Shanghai and Hong Kong and back to Philadelphia.50 In 1938, they lived in Singapore where he worked for the English Architecture Firm.51 On their route back from Singapore, they arrived in Honolulu days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.52 They again settled in the U.S. before returning to Hong Kong, where her husband was employed as the Chief Designer of the Bank of China.53 In 1954, they returned to the U.S., where she passed away two years later.54

Elizabeth Otis Dunn’s position as a professional artist correlated to women’s roles within the public sphere. The commissions she received before marriage were supplied by public forms of readership such as women’s magazines, journals and children’s books. As her exhibition career was through women’s clubs at the academy, her visibility as an artist was situated within feminine spaces, shaped for and by women. Otis Dunn’s mark was made during a period of monumental cultural transformation in both China and the United States. By tracing the shifting environments in which Otis Dunn worked, one first positions her as a formally trained female artist in the expanding American artworld of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Her peripatetic lifestyle abroad with her husband, specifically in China, situates her agency and social mobility as an artist within and between the two divergent cultures. Otis Dunn’s involvement with the women-only art clubs during her education led to her later involvement in the A.W.C. in Shanghai and in the A.W.A. in New York.

In Philadelphia, an example of the type of organizations emerging on a local scale was The Plastics Club, established in 1897, as a response to their exclusion from the men’s club. This club promoted the sharing of ideas, camaraderie, and exhibition opportunities.55 The mandate of the club read “to promote a wider knowledge of Art, and to advance its interests by means of social intercourse among artists.”56 It is notable that women’s art clubs were increasing in numbers at this point while those of men where decreasing.57 Otis Dunn’s history is present within these forms of organizations, indicating how professional women artists navigated the artworld often first through feminine spaces that fostered opportunities, spaces for discussion, a sense of camaraderie, and a defined community. Otis Dunn had exhibited her works as a member of The Plastics Club before her departure to China in 1916. Her participation in the A.W.C. and the A.W.A. draws attention to the relations and aspirations of the organizations acting “as cultural housekeepers”58 for both American residents in China and for Americans in America. The proliferation of these social institutions and Otis Dunn’s involvement in them indicates the complexity of the ways cultural value is conceived, sustained and circulated through these evolved forms of organization.

By the period of Otis Dunn’s arrival in China, Shanghai’s foreign lifestyle was established by the “settler elite,” mimetic of and influenced by metropolitan centres of “New York, Paris and London.”59 What was unique for the major Chinese cities, such as Shanghai and Peking60, was how ‘Western’ elitism enabled individuals to move up a social class and thus enhance their lifestyle in a way they may not have had prior access to or belonged to at home.61 This movement upward is symbolic of the “extraterritoriality” of foreign presences in China.62 Foreigners existed outside of Chinese law abiding by legislation and rules of the country of their origin within foreign land concessions.63 The extraterritorial structure not only imported the laws of foreign nations but also propagated the social institutions of their homeland, most importantly clubs.

Clubs were both formal and informal social institutions that perpetuated social practices and power from the homeland and were fundamental to foreign lifestyles in all of the foreign concessions and settlements.64 Club involvement dictated social behaviour. Clubs were predominantly gender specific and had few or no Chinese colleagues involved. The club space manifested as a sense of security, maintaining cultural peculiarities that perhaps were feared would be lost without this protective structure.65 Furthermore, many of the clubs had segregated membership based on nationality, such as the A.W.C. in Shanghai.

However, some communication and interaction did occur amongst the foreign clubs. In the case of the A.W.C., they collaborated with The British Women’s Club for art exhibitions.66 Because membership of such clubs was based on nationhood, these ‘feminine’ organizations were directly connected to imperialist interests for the country of origin. Clubs were internally organized based on class distinction and positions on councils were acquired through nepotism, self-nomination and self-promotion.67 Social, public life for foreigners in China and possibly even more so for foreign women in China, relied on the club’s structure, as they yielded limited employment opportunities for women. Clubs enabled women to maintain a sense of identity, purpose and place.68  They provided foreign women with a support network, somewhere to socialize and maintain visibility through public actions such as welfare activism dealing with children and the poor, as well as art events.69 These new forms of public visibility achieved by women within the realms of ‘high culture’ through art associations and clubs in their ‘homeland,’ were implemented in China as well. For foreign women artists residing in the main treaty port cities, clubs also offered many opportunities for exhibitions and published peer reviews in a fashion resembling, on a smaller scale, what they had at home.

Otis Dunn’s presence in Shanghai was chronicled by the A.W.C. Although ‘club’ life was sheltered from what we analyze now as many aspects of Shanghai ‘reality,’ Otis Dunn was seemingly influenced by the colours and the children of Shanghai.70 The media and palette, with which she worked, demonstrated by the studies in watercolour of Chinese Children, were cited as being different from her work in the United States.  These watercolour images, symbolize her deviation from a previously focused practice of black and white, geared towards her career as a commercial illustrator in Philadelphia.71

During her first sojourn in Shanghai, Otis Dunn also made portraits of the foreign residents and their children in a variety of media, from oil to watercolour, and sometimes combining it with charcoal. From 1919 to 1923, Otis Dunn relocated to Peking with her husband as he changed architecture projects and began to work for the Rockefeller Foundation in the Medical College Building.72  A few years later, they moved back to Shanghai, again due to her husband’s employment.73 Peking had influenced the style of her work. Otis Dunn again focused on creating colorless images.

An article, titled “A Psychological Artist” on the Woman’s Page of the North-China Herald in 1925 has provided both and interview and a description of Dunn’s work.  In this article, Dunn is quoted as saying:

You ask me whether I try to express the spirit or the flesh? It’s not easy to separate them.  Of course, I want to get a likeness, there would be little value to my work if it didn’t show the exterior individuality unmistakably. But the personality of the sitter interests me more. I want to catch a characteristic pose, an expression which represents him truly. I think I can say I have kept my faith with the truth of art and have never consciously flattered any sitter.74

She also stated that her interest was dominated by portraying children, however she also felt the eagerness to express an adult personality.

A child’s charm is its immaturity, its promise.  Youth’s features are not firmly molded; there are no lines of experience.  Its appeal is marvelous, but there must be more similarity in its psychology than in that of the grown-up.  It is a tremendously interesting business giving tangible form to a human spirit as well as fixing a likeness on paper.75

Her return to Shanghai provided foundational documentation of her career, taste and style of portraiture. Otis Dunn also exhibited and received a good amount of attention in a collaborative art exhibition held by the British Woman’s Association and the A.W.C.76 In 1926, her images were printed in The China Journal a year before her return to Philadelphia.77

During her time in the United States (1927-32), she became an active member of the A.W.A.78, jurying art exhibitions as well as exhibiting her work. A selection of pastels and watercolour portraits of Chinese Children, seven of which sold, were exhibited through this organization.79 A year later, her delicate figure drawings in pastel sold at opening view within the same context.80 The success of Otis Dunn’s representations of Chinese Children was credited in the A.W.A. bulletin to her twelve-year residence in China, between Shanghai and Peking. What is significant about this period in her artistic practice in the U.S., is her return to depicting Chinese children, and again their successful reception amongst members of the A.W.A.  Within the New York A.W.A. Bulletins from the year 1931, numerous headings are dedicated to subjects related to China and Chinese culture. These articles make visible the ideological interconnections of the A.W.A. and American imperialism. It demonstrates the unstated role such organizations play both at home and abroad in sustaining larger American cultural investments.

Otis Dunn’s movement between the American women’s organizations both in China and in the United States is what makes her work significant. The reaction to Otis Dunn’s images exhibited by the A.W.A. in New York indicated a shift in her practice.  She had displayed her images of Chinese Children with great reception. Her eagerness to express adult sensibilities in portraits as previously quoted in the North China Herald article, had recessed. Chinese Children and the use of colour again became the foreground and acclaimed aspect of her practice in the United States. This artistic shift could be seen as being partially contingent on her experience in China. The subject matter of her images for both the A.W.A. in New York and for the A.W.C. in Shanghai was appreciated to similar degrees, demonstrating parallel tastes between the two organizations. In New York, during the periods of Otis Dunn’s exhibitions, many of the A.W.A. bulletin articles discuss or celebrate aspects of Chinese culture seeding the importance of China, relating experiences and aesthetics as a form of cultural and social capital.81 The significance of the A.W.A. in archiving Otis Dunn’s career is monumental. The circulation of the portraits of Chinese Children underscores the ways the A.W.A. stabilized and contributed to cultural meanings that sustained a larger social structure and cultural awareness in America, therefore legitimizing the presence of Americans in the foreign concessions in China.

Examining the roles of the A.W.A. and the A.W.C. provided insight into the paradigm guiding American foreign involvement in China during the early twentieth century. What were the characteristics of the new international / global landscape? How were organizations such as the A.W.C. and the A.W.A. implicated in imperialist objectives?  How did countercultural movements such as American feminism become socialized through art and injected into international relations?

America’s presence in China was multifaceted. America played an active role in China from the 1890s to the early 1930s.82  World War I, the Great Depression in America, Japanese aggressions in China and the onset of World War II affected the extent of the American presence in China. China was undergoing significant economic, political and social transformations as it underwent modernization.83 Western influences were most prominent in the Treaty Ports.84 Outside of these foreign concessions, China’s economy was “both too large and too poor to be sustained by outside capital.85 Expanding the market economy in different nations was fundamental for the American capitalist imperial framework. However, Chinese nationalist protectionist tendencies did create challenges for American and foreign firms seeking to penetrate the Chinese market.86 The unequal treaties imposed in the early nineteenth and twentieth century debilitated China’s ability to be a sovereign nation.87  By the 1920s, Chinese student movements as well as intellectuals further challenged88 and were hostile to “capitalist imperialism.”89 This forced American firms [tobacco, cotton and oil] to integrate within the Chinese market in a less imposing way. They had to learn the “language and customs of the people” in order to promote their goods within Chinese markets while also appealing to public opinion.90 Appealing to public opinion was achieved through donations to natural disaster and famine relief and the sponsorship of schools.91 The A.W.A. and the A.W.C. could be viewed as a support to American firms in China as their club was active in social welfare activities.92 Many art exhibits, galas and invited speaker luncheons, were organized for charitable causes by the various women’s organizations both in New York and in Shanghai. To view these as isolated events or actions is not possible nor can they be framed as simply serving corporate or nationalist interests. However, they did contribute to the formation of public opinion within women’s organizations.

Otis Dunn’s membership to A.W.A. and the A.W.C. provided access to the historical emergence of these forms of organization and their structural growth beginning in the United States. The model of the A.W.C. in Shanghai was derived from organizations existing within America and within other Western Imperial powers [eg. Britain]. Club life at home and abroad enabled social networking for women.  Participating in these social institutions was fundamental to being accepted within the foreign concessions and settlements in China while also maintained social practices and communities. The clubs were xenophobic and a clear divide between the local Chinese populations and the foreigners was institutionalized. The circulation of Otis Dunn’s images such as Chinese Babyhood and A Chinese Boy is characteristic of an emergent American imperialism.

The A.W.A. and A.W.C. were significant actors in chronicling the careers and exhibiting both professional and amateur American women artists.  They created public visibility while promoting the creation of visuality. The term ‘cultural housekeeper’ in this context does not serve to relegate club participants into a lesser sphere of public participation but to link the intertwining functions of these organizations as both social and inherently political entities. While the evolution of such organizations stemmed from countercultural movements that created alternative narratives and communities within a domestic environment advocating for social reform, they later became enmeshed in the imperialist doctrine of America. As exemplified in the 1921 A.W.A. mandate for “a new platform stressing loyalty to America and patriotic citizenship.”93  This statement symbolizes the shift from domestic social welfare issues to issues with broader international connotations.

Within the United States, by the turn of the twentieth century, women had gained visibility through feminist organizations, creating a discourse that spoke “simultaneously of identity and difference” on liberal women.94 Women’s access to art academies brought feminism into the art world as producers of visuality.95 A Chinese Boy and Chinese Babyhood appear to be simple depictions of Chinese children, however they circulated and existed in intersecting realms of meaning. The images indicate access to cultural production for Otis Dunn, placing her within the trajectory of emerging feminist discourse and women’s acceptance into professionalized institutional art practices. The images however historically are infused with xenophobic undertones indicative of the relationship between American Clubs in China and the Chinese people during the early twentieth century. The archival existence of A Chinese Boy and Chinese Babyhood is due to the A.W.C. within China and the A.W.A. interest in China during their epoch of circulation. The parallel reception to Otis Dunn’s works by the A.W.A. and the A.W.C., are symbolic of the interconnections and complexity of visibility and visuality as it shifts in between different cultural spheres, bringing awareness to the social institutions that facilitated its movement.

1.Deborah Cherry and Janice Helland, “Local Places/ Global Spaces: New Narratives of Women’s Art in the Nineteenth Century,” in Local/Global:  Women Artists in the Nineteenth Century, Ed. Deborah Cherry and Janice Helland (Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2006) 1.
2. Deborah Cherry, Beyond the Frame: Feminism and Visual Culture, Britain 1850-1900 (London: Routledge, 2000) 1. This articulation of visibility and visuality is derived from Deborah Cherry’s writing on British Women in Algeria.
3. Ibid, 1-2.
4. Cherry, Beyond the Frame, 1.
5. Ibid,  42.
6. Munro, “A Century of History and the New Woman Artist,” in Originals American Women Artists (Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2000)  42.
7. Eleanor Munro,  “ Women of the First Wave: Elders of the Century,” in Originals American Women Artists (Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2000) 95.
8. Cherry, Beyond the Frame,10.
9. Whitney Chadwick, “Toward Utopia: Moral Reform and American Art in the Nineteenth Century,” in Women, Art and Society 3rd Ed., (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2002) 207.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid, 216.
13. Chadwick, “Towards Utopia,” 205.
14. Swinth, 1.
15. Ibid, 17.
16. Cherry, Beyond the Frame, 10.
17. Wanda M. Corn, “Women Building History,” in American Women Artists 1830-1930, Ed. Eleanor Tufts (Washington, D.C. : International Exhibitions Foundation for the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1987 ) 26.
18. Chadwick, “Separate but Unequal: Woman’s Sphere and the New Art,” Women, Art and Society, 3rd Ed. (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2002)  228.
19. Ibid.
20. Corn, 26.
21. Chadwick, “Separate but Unequal,” 247.
22. Ibid.
23. Ibid, 249.
24. Ibid, 250.
25. Corn, 32.
26. Nancy Fraser, “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy,” in Social Text 25/26, 1990: 61.
27. Kirsten Swinth, Painting Professionals: Women Artists & the Development of Modern American Art, 1870-1930 (California: University of California Press, 2001) 115.
28. Ibid.
29. Lucinda Manning and Dianne Stalker, “American Woman’s Association 1911-1974” (Archives, New York:  Barnard College, Columbia University, 1988-89) 1.
30. Ibid, 19.
31. Munro, “A Century of History,” 38.
32. Ibid,  40, 42.
33. Swinth, 5. By the 1880s, women outnumbered men in art schools.
34. Unidentified source. Elizabeth Otis Dunn File.
35. Ibid.
36. Ibid.
37. Ibid.
38. Elizabeth Pepys, “A “Psychological Artist,” North China Herald, Saturday, February 21, 1925, 331.
39. “Samuel D. Otis is Dead,” New York Times, Saturday, November 25, 1961, 24.
40. Pepys, 331.
41. Unidentified source. Elizabeth Otis Dunn File.
42. Unidentified source. Elizabeth Othis Dunn File.
43. Ibid.
44. Elizabeth Pepys, “A “Psychological Artist.” North China Herald, February 21,1925. 331.
45. Unidentified source. Elizabeth Otis Dunn File.
46. Ibid.
47. Ibid.
48. Ibid.
49. Ibid.
50. Ibid.
51. Ibid.
52. Ibid.
53. Ibid.
54. Ibid.
55. Swinth, 121.
56. Ibid.
57. Ibid, 123.
58. Ibid, 4.
59. Robert Bickers, Britain in China: Community Culture and Colonialism, 1900-1949 (Manchester; New York: Manchester University Press, 1999) 85.
60. Throughout the essay,  Peking will be used e to designate what is now Beijing.  During the time period when Otis Dunn was a resident, the city was named Peking.
61. Bickers, 85.
62. Colin Mackerras. China in Transformation 1900-1949 (New York: Longman, 1998) 11.
63. Ibid.
64. Bickers, 82.
65. Ibid, 87.
66. “B.W.A. and A.W.C. Art Exhibition,” China Journal 3 (1925)  243.
67. Bickers, 89.
68. Ibid.
69. Ibid, 88.
70. American Woman’s Club,“Interesting Display of Paintings,”, North China Herald November 10, 1917.
71. Pepys, 331.
72. Unidentified source. Elizabeth Otis Dunn File.
73. Ibid.
74. Pepys, 331.
75. Pepys, 331.
76. “B.W.A. and A.W.C. Art Exhibition,” China Journal 3 (1925)  243.
77. “Chinese Children: From Watercolour Study by Elizabeth Otis Dunn?” China Journal,“4 (1926).
78. Manning and Stalker, 1-15.  The American Women’s Association was formed by prominent American women in 1911 who initiated the project first in terms of social welfare as a vacation fund for working women.  From 1915-1922 the organization established a headquarters and subsequently launched a clubhouse, owned and operated by women. Membership was determined by the board of directors whom mandated the purchase of a share in the Realty Corporation.  The association was charitable and promoted cultural and educational initiatives.
79. “Eleven Paintings in AWA Show Sold,” AWA  3: 16 (1932).
80. “Current Art Show Full of Interest,” AWA Bulletin 3: 37 (December 15, 1932) 4.
81. “Five Authorities on Oriental Affairs to Speak December 14” in the AWA Bulletin 2: 47 December 10, 1931; “Program of Unmatched Brilliance and Color Announced for Chinese Ball. ” November 12, 1931,” in the AWA Bulletin November 12, 1931; “Artist and Traveler to Speak to the Orient” in the AWA Bulletin 2:17, April 23, 1931; “China Goes Forward,” in the AWA Bulletin October 22, 1931. Numerous articles in the American Women’s Association Bulletins from 1930 to 1935 are dedicated to Chinese issues from thematic costumes balls to event descriptions- dignitaries and other public figures addressing issues about China.
82. Michael H. Hunt, “Americans in the China Market: Economic Opportunities and Economic Nationalism, 1890s-1931,” in the Business History Review 51:3 (1977) 281.
83. Mackerras, 6. There is an ongoing debate on when the beginning of modern China was but for some, it began with the first Opium War in 1839-42.
84. Ibid.
85. Ibid, 7.
86. Hunt, 289.
87. Hunt, 289.
88. Mackerras, 3. China’s history is riddled with revolutions and social uprisings such as the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, the Second Revolution in 1913, the May Fourth Movement 1919, and the Nationalist Revolution of 1925-27.
89. Hunt, 289.
90. Hunt, 289.
91. Ibid, 295.
92. “Mrs. Milton Dwight Purdy,” The Woman’s Page, The North China Herald April 11, 1925. This article discusses the interest of the Woman’s Club in relief work for Chinese children. Mrs. Milton Dwight Purdy is a primary example of a Club Woman in China.  She keeps up to date on the suffrage and social reform movements in the United States while working on Child Labour issues in China demonstrating the paralleling role of Club Women in both locations.
93. Manning and Stalker, 4.
94. Cherry, Beyond the Frame, 9.
95. Simultaneously, women were less present in the avant-garde art discourses of the early twentieth century because traditional styles produced by the art academies became less relevant.