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OAG hosts Ottawa’s first Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon today

By Maria-Helena Pacelli on March 8, 2016

The Ottawa Art Gallery is hosting an Art + Feminism Edit-a-Thon as part of a global initiative that has been taking place since 2014 in order to redress the well-known gender imbalances of information presented on Wikipedia. This event is hosted in tandem with Carleton University Art Gallery, who share the perspective that Ottawa-based art spaces need to participate in redressing the gender imbalance particularly as it pertains to the arts, to better represent local artists.

According to Michelle Gewurtz, Interim Senior Curator at Ottawa Art Gallery, correcting content made available on a global platform such as Wikipedia has many benefits for local artists, such as raising their profile, having a greater chance of being found through search engines, and providing visibility to local artists who might otherwise be overshadowed by larger institutions.

Reflecting on the rapid growth of digital cultures and how it allows local communities to participate in long-standing discussions about gender imbalances in the arts, this year’s International Women’s Day seemed like a great time to host a Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon inviting participants to learn how to edit pages and add the work of local artists who deserve to have their own Wikipedia content.

Paraskeva Clark, Working Drawing for Eaton’s Windows, c. 1935, gouache, ink and graphite on paper.

Paraskeva Clark, Working Drawing for Eaton’s Windows, c. 1935, gouache, ink and graphite on paper.

“It’s important that we as a community learn to teach ourselves and others the necessary skills so that Ottawa artists can have a greater presence on Wikipedia.  The more people that can learn to edit and/or create pages, the better!” said Gewurtz.

So why now? The Ottawa Art Gallery is currently exhibiting the work of Paraskeva Clark. Given the challenges of making women artists’ work visible, and in particular how little information on Wikipedia about Clark’s entry, in comparison to the amount of literature available on her work, OAG felt that her Wikipedia page should be reflective of that. The Edit-a-Thon will begin using Clark’s page to show participants how to edit a page.

Participants are encouraged to come on their own or in small groups and learn how to edit Wikipedia pages, but also to self-organize to continue this work and build upon the work that is beginning here in making Ottawa artists more visible on this global platform.

OTTAWA Art + Feminism is happening from 10 am  – 5 pm TODAY in two locations: Ottawa Art Gallery (Arts Court, 2 Daly Ave.), and Carleton University Art Gallery (St. Patrick’s Building, Carleton University).  Reference materials, refreshments, and childcare will be provided. Bring your laptop, power cord and ideas for entries that need updating or creation. Everyone welcome.