Helen R. Klebesadel

Biographical Information



Helen Klebesadel exhibits her large-scale watercolors nationally and internationally.  She is best known for her feminist works, which examine culturally based definitions of women in myth, folklore, and stories.  She re-examines and re-visions images and ideas as they relate to women in a search for representations that better express her own experiences as a woman from the U.S. who grew up poor and rural, but gained an education.  Her background studying and teaching visual art and women’s studies informs her watercolors.


Klebesadel makes her home in Madison, Wisconsin.   She is the Director of the Women’s Studies Consortium of the University of Wisconsin System, as well as a Visiting Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.   Prior to joining the UW System 1999, she was on the faculty of Lawrence University for ten years teaching painting, printmaking, contemporary issues and women’s studies courses.  


Klebesadel is a past national president of the Women’s Caucus for Art, the oldest and largest multidisciplinary feminist women's art organization in the United States.   As the national President of the WCA in the fall of 1995, she led a delegation of 100 women in the arts from the Americas to the NGO Forum of the United Nations World Conference on Women in Huairou, China.


Helen Klebesadel’s background growing up on a farm in southern Wisconsin, and her early experiences running a house painting business (aptly named “Painted Ladies”) informs Helen Klebesadel’s activism in the arts.  She is dedicated to helping create national and international art dialogues that will include the voices of all women in the arts in a meaningful way.  Likewise she works to bring visual arts perspective to the interdisciplinary field of Women’s Studies.  It is her belief that it is through the arts that cultures define who and what is of value. It is through the arts that we will find a way to create a language that is broad enough to include the experiences of all people, including rural and working class women, women of color, lesbians and transgendered folks, and women with disabilities.  Most significantly, it is through the arts that we can reach across deep cultural divides and begin to understand each other enough to find shared values that can be built upon for world survival.