Feminism and Art

I years I have dedicated my life to art and avenues it paints. Currently, I am on count down and about to graduate Colorado State University with a B.F.A in Art (Painting), a minor in Art History, and a certificate in Women's Studies. I have focused my own art on women as well as my other studies.
I thought perhaps I would go to grad school (still a possibility) and study goddess imagery in Art History or, perhaps, feminist art.

Feminism has ensured my career as an artist and art historian and I have a lot to know. Because of the efforts of Feminist Epistemology  women have been written back into art history: the struggle continues. My hopes are that one day my name will be written in, but until then i need to give credit to the thoughts and work of those who are.

It dawned on me while on my flight back to the United States from Athens, Greece and reading Cunt by Inga Muscio that I wanted to go to grad school and study goddess imagery. I was having the same epiphanies as the women who realized that had a history years back. There was a history, My kind was in history. I wrote my first paper on The Virgin Mary in the Medieval period and her imagery connections to goddesses. This was the beginning of a collection of books and materials to form my ideas and understandings. I studied and wrote several papers on the goddess related to different subjects. And specifically imagery. I noticed the world riddled with triangles, women, goddess symbols, and so on...I wrote my capstone Art History paper on the archetypal vaginal imagery in Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party arguing that it was the imagery of the vagina that  was causing explosive attention and why. For a Women's Studies Independent Study I contested the stereotypical connection between goddess imagery and feminism.
This is a commentary on feminism and the art that it c
oncerns...

I would like to begin talking about Chicana Feminism. Chicana Feminism is rich with culture and art which has filtered into the theory they present. In La Conciencia De Le Mestiza: Towards A New Consciousness by Gloria Anzaldua she writes about the tricultural aspects of her people. Read this piece it is a great example of Chicana Feminism. Her however I would like to present Alma Lopez's Our Lady (Check out Artist Site: Alma Lopez). She is a digital artist born in Mexico and resident of L.A, California. This image was done in 1999 and showed in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2000. The showing of this piece caused huge controversy among the community: the Chicana curator received death threats, threats to the artist, town hall meetings, protests, news coverage, threats to the artist... The Virgin Mary is sexual (hetero-, bi-, homo-?), independent, confrontational, traditional, indigenous, contemporary, digital, produced by a Feminist-Lesbian-Chicana born in Mexico-Activist-Female Artist. Overtones of the multi-fascitted Chicana can be seen in this image. Lopez wanted this image to connect to the contemporary woman and so it does.

Muslim women are often times construed by western feminists as being oppressed without the adequate background to understand a Muslim's culture. And it is true one doesn't go into an intellectual situation without bringing their own turtle shell: that is to say, where they come from as a bias. In Marie-Aimee Helie- Lucus's The Preferential Symbol for Muslim Personal Laws she writes of how while the Muslim system s meant to benefit women the laws that are placed forth are more oppressive then benefitial. Her I would like to present to artist  Ghada Amer from Cairo, Egypt. I know little compared to what I could about her. But I think it is interesting how her work is received in Britain versus Cairo where she is from.  I believe I read in an interview that her father instilled in her a feminist path versus her mother. I think that interview stated her mentioning that her father encouraged her to go to school and get an education. Anyways, She began working with gender roles of women and moved to pornographic images of women to reclaim the female body. Some of her influences in her work include the reprinting of women in fashion magazines with veils to sell in a catalogue.
    In Britain her work is received well while her work is not received with much gratitude in Cairo. The Muslim influence in Ciaro prevents fer work from being seen the way it is in Britain. Another reading that applies here is the piece by Inji Aflatun We Egyptian Women. (Check out Artist on Gallery Site: Ghada Amer)














The pinnacle of Wester Feminist Art is Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party. Produced in the 1970's and taking 5 years to produce this piece combines what is considered traditional women's craft as art and goes against the Western Art Canon that claims that productions of Painting and sculpture are High art and to be paid attention to. She is chided by Modernists for her Kitsch presentation but the piece serves justice.  This piece continually gets chided by critics and the pubic for it vaginal imagery on the plates that are set at the table. An "Sexual Politics" exhibition at UCLA help in 1996 featured the piece in the context of Feminist art in order to understand where The Dinner Party came from. The chided Vaginal imagery is a product of its time. Female artists were looking for an image they could claim their own in the 1970's and came up with the Vagina. All images including the Female body had already been claimed by men and women needed something to counter-act. Something that they purely owned and men and patriarchy did not.
Now the piece has a permanent home (was in storage for years) at the Brooklyn Musuem as of last spring. (Check out the Site: Sackler Center)










Eco Feminisms connections to art also have deep connections with goddess imagery because the archetypal theory of The Goddess embodies the earth. In Adrienne Rich's Notes toward a Politics of Location qoutes Virginia Woolf in The Three Guineas, "as a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman my country is the whole world." Though the artist Ana Mendieta did claim to have a country, Cuba, she called it her Mother country and produced work in connection to the earth as a connection to where she came from. She went into nature and and created her work only to be documented by photo and film and left to decay with the earth. (Check out a site: Ana Mendieta) The film created after her death is phenominal. (Ana Mendieta, Fuego de Tierra)

Pay attention to your fellow feminist artists:
Louise Bourgeois
She is a Fernch Artist who works with Gender roles of mother and Father and how they are combined.











Nancy Spero

Nancy Spero is an American Feminist artist who uses archaic imagery merged with contemporary images with a feminist message.

















Any other artists people are interested in???

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Where is Feminism going?

I feel like feminism is dying. Or maybe it is just the term. Maybe the title will change in the future. I suppose feminism isn't just political but a look at issues like your child.
We are fueled up but still sitting at the gas station.
Where is feminism going now?



This is a hilarious picture: has nothing to do with what i wrote...or does it?
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Cyborgs!

  •  Haraway, Donna (1994). " A cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist--Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century." In Anne C. Herrman and Abigail J. Stewart (eds.) Theorizing Feminism. Boulder: Westview Press.

Ramblings in Noteboook
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What will be the future of Feminism?

  • Scott, Joan W. "Deconstructing Equality-versus-Difference: or, the Uses of Post-structuralist Theory for Feminism." In Carole R. McCann & Seung-Kyung Kim (eds.) Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. New York: Routledge, 2003. 378-390.
   
    It is a hard question in terms of where feminism is going to go from here. Or go from were it was. In the past there has been speak-outs and written literary work to constitute awareness of what is important to be considering. There has been much theorizing. In no way am I claiming that Feminism is dead or that it has been stagnant by presenting these observations. I have spoken to many and yet so few about what feminism is doing today. The morphing that has taken place, the activism that xists and yet doesn't. In short I feel the movement is at a standstill. Still in a place where debates are taking place and in no way should this cease. The same goes for theory. We need to be looking at the theories that have been looked at and rework them, re-look at them, flip them around, see what we have missed, become active learns. We need to be stepping off the beaten path of Feminism before and figuring out our own path, stopping the masturbation of what we have already done and looked at. What are we going to do with all this information now? I have been reading many theories and have been contemplating the use of such theory in today's state of feminism...

I am only part way through the above work and have had a flood of thought preoccupying my mind (I am on page 385). I think this work is great. This is my suggestion to where feminism needs to be going. We are still sitting at the gas station and it is time to leave and use that fuel. Perhaps light it on fire, destroy it, and start over. This is the beginning. We are aware of many of these theories and at the same time aware of their exclusion of the 'rest.' I say the 'rest' because in doing so there is an inherent light shed on the concept of 'other.' It all seems so counterproductive and at the same time no matter what it always will. Not everyone will agree and difference will always exist. Back to my discussion: In taking such an unwavering stance on a topic, such a position makes a stance almost permanent. In doing so there is no room left to consider of understand an opposing position, therefore leading to exclusion of a voice. This applies to all opinions. WE could debate on opinion forever and yet I find it important to note that everything that has ever been written down has been opinion and therefore most of everything is a fact that at the same time contradicts itself.

There is a want for change. And at the same time few understand that with the consideration of the knowledge that feminism presents there is an unconscious process occurring. And further change is always happening. I want to point out here the Phenomenon of Feminism. Feminism is treated like a new thing and in retrospect to the past it seems like it is. However, there have been many movements over time and within out generations that have focused on the changing of consciousness. I laugh every time I meet someone who makes a discerning face towards the word feminism, as if it is a term that combusts right in front of them. It isn't a singular term even. i was asked recently what is the definition of feminism, anyway? in which I replied there isn't one. This person smiled as if just finding out there wasn't anything set in stone for the definition of Feminism gave them room to breath. Isn't that what this is supposed to do and yet we have those who support the thoughts of Feminism setting walls in front of the rest of society by standing firmly by her of his unwavering thought. It is like when one who is white is in elementary school and learns about slavery, looks over at their friend of color and feel guilty for what her or his own skin color has done to the friend. (personal experience) There is an element of guilt that is placed with an amount of information that is supposed to be informing and not setting up walls. Good point put out by Scott in this reading:

"Rather, the analysis of language provides a crucial point of entry, a starting point for understanding how social relations are conceived, and therefore--because understanding how they are conceived means understanding how they work--how institutions are organized, how relations of production are experienced, and how collective identity is established. Without attention to language and the processes by which meanings and categories are constituted, one only imposes oversimplified models on the world, models that perpetuate conventional understandings rather than pen up new interpretive possibilities." (379)

Difference and Equality: The binaries of the western philosophical tradition are concerning. When looking purely at the contingencies of opposites that consist of two and ANY number there is the space in between that is being ignored. It is almost never one or the 'other' but one or many. What is in between in very important and without acknowledging such, Counter-productivity  takes place. Deconstruction: "the reversal and displacement of binary oppositions." I also would like to quote Scott with, "equality is not the elimination of difference, and difference does not preclude equality." And yet when focusing on the dichotomies of these two there is almost no knowledge or understanding of everything in between. And yet, "In clashes over the superiority of one or another of these strategies, feminists have invoked history, philosophy, and morality and have devised new classificatory labels: cultural feminism, liberal feminism, feminist separatism, and so on." (381)

"When equality and difference are paired dichotomously, they structure an impossible choice. If one opts for equality, one is forced to accept the notion that difference is antithetical to it. If one opts for difference, one admits that equality is unattainable." (385)
Is the Equality vs. Difference debate crippling toward the feminist movement and its goal of change?
As i stated above  change is happening anyway. There are many that are aware of the feminist movement or rather the issues discussed, therefore unconsciously they are acting their way through life (a stab at the patriarchal puppeteer in all of us) in leu of this. So change is in fact happening. Something that needs to be acknowledge about equality is that it does not mean similarity. If it were then those striving for equality fro everyone will end up with 24,906 miles of inch deep water to drown a theory in. With difference you have deep water to flail in. Equality is a term that need to be paired with 'accepting.' Difference is important to acknowledge. Everyone is different and if equal there would be a movement to allow difference and people would still do things different. With this in mind it is important to think about looking at difference as a constant. You can not change difference. You can acknowledge it, stop trying to make everything the same (Imagine if we lived in a world that was all one color, where everybody did the same things, where all the same person (named X): Are we expected to be robots now? What is to live for?)...Within acknowledging difference we can put aside the problem of difference because we know the answer is: EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT, and move towards doing something. With Feminism.
Then comes the question: How does one make equality while acknowledging difference?


ON WITH FINISHING THIS READING.
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