Doin' It in Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman's Building

By Klein, Jennie | Frontiers - A Journal of Women's Studies, May 2012 | Go to article overview

Doin' It in Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman's Building


Klein, Jennie, Frontiers - A Journal of Women's Studies


In 2001 Public Offerings, curated by Paul Schimmel, opened at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (LA MOCA). Part history and part contemporary art survey, Public Offerings was comprised of the formative work (in some cases the Master of Fine Arts shows) of twenty-four artists who became art rock stars in 2001. These artists, among them Damien Hirst, Rikrit Tiravanija, and Sarah Lucas, became famous in an age when the art market was burgeoning while art schools became increasingly privatized. Art students in the 199os eschewed the antimaterialism and intellectualism of the 196os and '7os for opportunities in the commercial arena. Public Offerings included a lot of objects, many of them oversized and vaguely suggesting a critique of something--the art market, racism, the museum, the art school, or whatever. But the primary criterion for inclusion was art market success. (1)

Unlike most curators, who continued devising, into the mid-naughts, exhibitions of expensive objects around an increasingly worn-out premise of transgression, Schimmel was at least honest. Public Offerings was still depressing, especially considering that it opened ten years after the demise of the Woman's Building, one of the only institutions ever devoted to the education and nurturing of feminist artists. The Woman's Building was founded in 1973 (almost twenty years earlier) by Judy Chicago, Arlene Raven, and Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, all three Cal Arts refugees who sought to create a "space of one's own," to paraphrase Virginia Woolf, for young women to become feminists and artists. When it first opened in 1973, the Woman's Building, located downtown in the former Chouinard Art Building, was a vibrant center of women's culture. In addition to being the home for a degree program in feminist art making--the Feminist Studio Workshop, or FSW, which had morphed from the Feminist Art Program that Chicago had founded at Fresno State and Cal Arts--the Woman's Building was home to the Associated Woman's Press, the Center for Feminist Art Historical Studies, Gallery 707, Grandview Gallery I and II, Los Angeles Feminist Theater, Sisterhood Bookstore, Womanspace Gallery, Women's Improvisational Theater, and Women's Graphics Center, which de Bretteville helped to organize. By 1991 the building had moved from its central location in downtown Los Angeles to the former Getty office building, located on the edge of Chinatown. The FSW had disbanded years earlier, although several of the students and teachers in the program continued to be involved with the building. The affiliated organizations housed in the building had shrunk to just two: the Woman's Graphics Center and the Woman's Slide Library. Plagued by financial problems beyond their control, the staff at the Woman's Building managed to host the tenth and final Vesta Awards ceremony just as the building finally closed. The slide library, as well as a wealth of material that did not make it to the Smithsonian, accompanied Sue Maberry, one of the last of the building administrators, to Otis College.

Ten years after Public Offerings and twenty years after the Woman's Building closed its doors, it is fitting that an exhibition devoted to the art of the Woman's Building is being shown at the Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design. If nothing else, Doin' It in Public: Feminism and Art at The Woman's Building (October 1, 2011--February 26, 2012) serves as a potent reminder that making a public offering in the art world didn't always involve buying shares or speculating as to the next big trend. Curated by Meg Linton and Maberry, Doin' It in Public is a comprehensive survey of the art and programs associated with the Woman's Building. For this special issue of Frontiers dedicated to the manifestations of the feminist art movement outside of New York or Los Angeles, a discussion of an exhibition devoted to the art of the Woman's Building, however laudable, might seem misplaced at best, myopic and self-serving at worst. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Doin' It in Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman's Building
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.