Can You Name Three Female Artists?

“Can you name three female artists?”

Of course, I thought – so easy!

Mary Cassatt….um….um…..

“Frida” says someone in the film, where people on the streets of New York are being asked this question.

Yes, I think – Frida!  And….um….

I couldn’t do it.

Neither could anyone on that street.  !Women Art Revolution, by Lynn Hershman Leeson, was an eye opening experience into a part of the feminist movement that isn’t normally covered.  Interesting since it grew out of the art and art history programs that had never included any information on any female artists.

I was completely unsure what I was settling in for, besides a big bag of popcorn.  Stories from the women featured were told from 1960s and 1970s through the last couple years, flashing between past and present. Activists, artists, wives, students.  They were all these things.  These women saw no place for themselves in art programs, galleries and the art community in general – so they created places.  Opened their own galleries, started their own programs, many becoming professors at the institutions that had rejected their work – insisting “feminist art” was not art.

Feminist art took many forms, and tend to confront societal issues, and the establishment with their art. Why were women expected to handle all the cooking and cleaning?  Why were women in art in galleries and museums always nude?  It grew out of the feminist movement and was a way of expressing those things they wanted to change.  It was a side of feminist movement most women do not learn about, even in women studies programs.

An inspiring story that built up over four decades, added to here and there, waiting for the right moment for all of it to come together to be shared and told as one history.  What got me what that despite these women taking steps to create a place for themselves in the art world, female art students now don’t learn about them, despite the impact they unknowingly have, for young women to be in an art program at a university now, or have a career as an artist.

I don’t care if you see yourself as a feminist openly or secretly, or don’t see identify as such as at all.  Anyone who identifies as a woman should see this documentary.  It is a snippet of our history, and I mean a snippet.  There is so much that did not make it into the final film, but much of the work of these women is being cataloged, some shown in museums and galleries long after the artists themselves had given up the dream of seeing their work on display.

For example, Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party has been donated to Penn State University, where the collection will be on display this fall.  Didn’t understand that?  Don’t know who Judy Chicago is?  You need to see !Women Art Revolution!

You will be inspired! Use that inspiration well.

Originally appeared on Fem2.0


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