Libraries cosponsor feminist art exhibit
A major exhibition of trail-blazing American feminist art, "How American Women Artists
Invented Postmodernism, 1970-1975," can be seen at the Mason Gross Galleries at Civic
Square, 33 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick, at Rutgers' Mason Gross School of the Arts,
beginning Thursday, Dec. 15, through Friday, Jan. 27, 2006. The galleries are open Monday
through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and by appointment. The exhibition, cosponsored
by the Rutgers University Libraries, will focus on work created by American women artists
in the crucial five-year span between 1970 and 1975.
"The women's art movement of the 1970s introduced bold new concepts into art practice
that have become embedded in contemporary art today," says Judith K. Brodsky, professor
emerita of visual arts, and co-curator of the exhibition. "These practices have become so
widely accepted today that we tend to forget they were introduced through the feminist
art movement. The purpose of this exhibition is to demonstrate and reinforce that
Brodsky says feminist artists introduced new ways of looking at the body. They
incorporated into high art the decorative materials often associated with women, and
reintroduced the drama of narrative into art after a long period of dominance by
abstraction. The exhibition features major, large-scale paintings by Judy Chicago, Joan Semmel, Sylvia
Sleigh, Joan Snyder, Miriam Schapiro and Joyce Kozloff, and sculptures by Nancy Azara and
Lynda Benglis. DVD film documentation of ground-breaking performances from the early
1970s by Carolee Schneemann, Eleanor Antin, Martha Wilson and Rachel Rosenthal - some of
which have not been shown since they were created - will be featured in the installation.
Also featured are the paintings and sculptures of Harmony Hammond, work concerning Judy
Baca's "Great Wall of Los Angeles," Faith Ringgold's soft sculptures and tankas, and
photographs by Mary Beth Edelson. Betty Saar's timely "Victory of Gentleness (Rosa
Parks)," Nancy Spero's "Codex Artaud," Athena Tacha's early earthworks documentation, and
the monumental tapestries of June Wayne are signal components of the show.
Ferris Olin, feminist art historian, librarian and head of the Margery Somers Foster
Center at Rutgers' Mabel Smith Douglass Library, is co-curator of the exhibition. "We
have worked to bring together signature works from the early 1970s by each artist," Olin
says. "In the case of painters, for example, we'll have such influential works as Joan
Semmel's paintings of the female body made from the perspective of the woman herself."
"How American Women Artists Invented Postmodernism, 1970-1975" is the inaugural
exhibition in a nationwide series, "Indelible Marks: Framing Art and Feminism." The
series of exhibitions and events, continuing through 2008, will celebrate the significant
stature and increased visibility of art by women in America.
The "Indelible Marks" coordinating committee members are artist Judy Chicago; art
historian Arlene Raven; Susan Fisher Sterling, director of the National Museum of Women
in the Arts; Maura Reilly, curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at
the Brooklyn Museum; Dena Muller, Director of A.I.R. Gallery, together with Brodsky and
Olin. The committee has established Rutgers as the institutional host of the national
celebration. The Rutgers name will be associated with each event and exhibition in the
series, many of which will take place at Rutgers venues in New Brunswick, Piscataway,
Camden and Newark.
by May Stevens