Two unrelated news articles about two unrelated female artists turn out to be about the same thing, their psyches. Of course, this can be said of all artists. But these two make a point of it.

'Inside out'

Colby College Museum of Art announced a new show this week of Mary Cassatt’s prints that points up the inwardness of her work with the show title “Inside Out.” At the same time, The Guardian reported an interview with Jodie Foster about her directing "Black Mirror" (season 4) under the headline, “I make movies to figure out who I am.” (More about Foster in a moment).

Cassatt’s printmaking was a kind of black mirror reflecting the words she famously spoke on joining the radicals of her day – the Impressionists: “At last I could work with absolute independence.” She was indicating her liberation from traditional canons of the Paris Salon. Her mural for the Chicago World’s Fair – Allegory of the Modern Woman – pictured women picking the fruit of knowledge - likely self-knowledge, too. As art historian Linda Nochlin noted in her 1988 book “Women, Art, and Power,” “Women artists are more inward-looking.”

Mirror image

As if to illustrate Nochlin’s words, Cassatt painted Mother and Child with multiple mirrors: one handheld by the mother showing her young daughter her little mirror image, and the other reflecting both figures.

By multiplying this view of maternity with looking-glasses, Cassatt punctuates her feeling about it and wants you to feel it, too.

In another painting, Cassatt seeks to intensify our concentration on the female figure in Woman in Black at the Opera. Rather than show you anything on stage, she directs your eyes to the woman.

Then, she adds a man on the balcony, zeroing on the woman with binoculars to deepen that attention. Whether mirrors or binoculars, the nexus is always the female.

Song of self

Talk about directing viewer attention, The Guardian’s conversation with Foster about her directing a new “Black Mirror” film allowed space for introspection.

The script she’ll be working with concerns a single mother and her child, a subject Foster is familiar with, raised by a single mother. “I have always wanted every movie I have made to be in some way the story of my life.”

“Black Mirror,” then, brought Foster back to her own mother, who now suffers dementia. You may recall her Golden Globes speech in which she addressed her mother directly, acknowledging her inability to understand what was going on. Then she added, “But this is the only important one to take in: I love you, I love you, I love you. And I hope that if I say this three times, it will magically and perfectly enter into your soul.”

To hear Foster tell it, she makes movies to figure out who she is.

And she doesn’t always get the answer until the end of the movie. She said she often has to wait to realize why she was obsessed with it in the first place. One thing she knew at the start, though, when deciding to direct “Black Mirror”: she liked that the stories are told by women, through women’s eyes, and also directed by women.

That singular focus on women by both Cassatt and Foster clearly makes their main interest: what it feels like to be them.