Saturday, October 28, 2017

Women Camouflage Artists Coming to Sioux City

Exhibition Banner © Roy R. Behrens 2017
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – HIDDEN FIGURES: The Untold Story of Women’s Role in Camouflage, an exhibition curated by Roy R. Behrens, will open at noon, on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2017 at the Betty Strong Encounter Center. Admission will be free.

The exhibition comprises 40 US government photographs of American women engaged in camouflage activities during World War I. Captions and text panels offer rich context for women’s contribution to camouflage development after the United States entered the war in 1917. It will serve as a featured attraction during the Center’s 2018 school tour season. The exhibition will run through Memorial Day, June 3, 2018.

The story begins with US Navy women stationed in the continental United States, France, Guam and Hawaii during WWI who were formally known as “Yeomen (F).” Informally, they were called “Yeomanettes” or “Yeowomen,” according to Behrens, Professor of Art/Graphic Design and Distinguished Scholar at University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls.

“They served primarily as clerical staff, but also as radio operators, electricians, draftsmen, pharmacists, photographers, telegraphers, fingerprint experts, chemists, torpedo assemblers and camouflage artists,” says Behrens who has published books and articles on art and camouflage since the 1970s.

The US Naval Reserve Act of 1916 opened the door for women to enlist in the Navy during WWI when the demand for military personnel exceeded the number of available American men.

“This decision enabled the enlistment of the first female sailors in the US Naval Reserve, among them a small number of African-American women, the first to be allowed to serve in any of the American armed forces,” says Behrens.

The exhibition’s images were drawn from Library of Congress collections (LOC Prints and Photographs) and the National Archives and Research Administration (NARA).

Behrens’ exhibition images are enlarged, high-resolution laser prints, digitally modified to remove dust and scratches and adjust exposure flaws.

Among Behrens’ recently published books are: SHIP SHAPE: A Dazzle Camouflage Sourcebook (2011); and FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT AND MASON CITY: Architectural Heart of the Prairie (2016).

Behrens often has appeared in interviews on radio; television; in educational films, including NOVA on PBS; and in the recently broadcast Australian documentary, DECEPTION BY DESIGN: The Hidden Story of Camouflage (2015).

Behrens’ blog ( on camouflage has been called “the most important online resource for anyone interested in the subject.”

Article from Boston Sunday Post, August 4, 1918