Behind Every Great Man, An Inspiring Woman

This blog tracks the origin & evolution of Jo Napier’s 2011 art exhibit/portrait series honoring “The Nova Scotia Nine- Great Women of N.S.

Photo Courtesy of the Alexander Graham Bell Museum

I’m working on a portrait right now of Mabel Bell.

I’ve been researching her for a while, and reading Charlotte Gray’s wonderful book, Reluctant Genius  about Mabel’s husband, Alexander Graham Bell, and their life together.

I included Mabel among “the Nova Scotia Nine”” – the 9 women who’ll form the centerpiece for my show in June at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, in Halifax – because she was amazing – and she did amazing works during her time in Nova Scotia.

She started Nova Scotia’s first Montessori School. She was, essentially, her husband’s business manager. The partner who pushed him to patent, the one who pulled his creative team together; she ran a major home/estate, was a pioneering educator based in Baddeck, she was hearing-impaired…

An extraordinary woman and powerful example of what one person can accomplish when they refuse to let any thing dim their light.


One Response

  1. Mabel Bell would be bemused at the homage paid to her in recent years. As far as she was concerned she was doing what any loving partner would do. Charlotte’s book examines Mabel’s relationship with Alec in a very personal way, and I have always been impressed at the rational tone of her response (as a teen-ager) to having a teacher fall madly in love with her, and her transition into a successful married relationship that seemed to work at so many levels. Subjectively, this is a story not about a telephone, but of the most successful relationships. I hope in a small way I may speak for her in extending my thanks that you chose my great-great-grandmother as a subject for your work. She would be honored. Is there an opening? I am in business school in Cape Breton until June 2012, and would like to try to come down for it if you have no more senior family representative and would like one present.

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