Feminist Artists and Art (Still) Works: Four Films

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DECISIONS OF THE HEART: THE STORIES AND ART OF FUTURE AKINS. 90 mins. Produced by Doug Nelson & Armando Rodriquez, KTXT-TV, Texas Tech University, Box 42161, Lubbock, TX 79409-2161; website: http://www.ktxt.org/productionFuture Akins.htm. Sale (DVD or VHS): $25.00, including shipping & handling.

GIRL HOUSE ART PROJECT: FEMINIST ART BY MIDDLE SCHOOL GIRLS. 16 mins. 2006. Film directed by Brooke Randolph. Project led by Kesa Kivel as part of the YWCA Santa Monica/Westside's community service programming; website: www.kesakivel.com. The complete vidco is viewable at http://www.smywca.org/girl-house-art-project.html (uses Windows Media Player). While supplies last, the DVD, as well as copies of Gril House and Beyond: A Facilitator's Guide for Empowering Young Women, is available from Kesa Kivel, 149 S. Barrington Ave., #132, Los Angeles, CA 90049; email: kesakivel@mac.com.

I CAN FLY, PART V: KIDS AND WOMEN ARTISTS IN THEIR STUDIOS. 28 mins. 2006. Created and produced by Linda Freeman; written and directed by David Irving. Distributed by L&S Video, Inc., 45 Stornowaye, Chappaque, NY 10514; phone: (914) 238-9366; fax: (914) 238-6324; email: videopaint2@msn.com; website: http//www.landsvidco.com/vcat.shtml. Sale (DVD or VHS): $39.95.

JUDY CHICAGO AND THE CALIFORNIA GIRLS. 27 mins. 1971. Updated on DVD with improved sound quality and the addition of historical subtitles. Produced, directed, & edited by Judith Dancoff. Distributed by California Girl Productions, P.O. Box 412496, Los Angeles, CA 90041; phone/fax: (323) 225-5633; website: www.californiagirlproductions.com Sale (DVD): $250.00; student price $50.00; (VHS): $225.00; student price $45.00. DVD or 16mm. rentals are available. Three percent of purchase or rental price is donated to Through the Flower (www.throughtheflower.org), a nonprofit feminist art organization founded by Judy Chicago.

The four films discussed in this review will be of interest to women's studies, girls' studies, and arts faculty who are looking at activist art; women in the visual arts; and anyone focusing on feminist art as an important part of the women's movement in the U.S. Girl House Art Project and I Can Fly. Part V: Kids and Women Artists in Their Studios are particularly relevant to the girl's studies series that was recently featured in Feminist Collections; they will also be useful resources in college-level courses that explore art as an activist process. Decisions of the Heart: The Stories and Art of Future Akins demonstrates how the phrase "the personal is political" is especially apt in regard to the visual arts, and reminds us that the feminist art movement has influenced American women artists everywhere and given them permission to make their lives and the lives of other women a force for understanding and for creating social change. The short film Judy Chicago and the California Girls reminds us of the radical work in arts education that started it all.

The women's movement in the United States is over forty years old, and the feminist art movement is the same age. The Feminist Art Project (TFAP), a collaborative national initiative based at Rutgers University (http://feministartproject.rutgers.edu), celebrates the aesthetic, intellectual, and political impact of women on the visual arts, art history, and art practice, past and present, and is a strategic intervention against the ongoing erasure of women--particularly women artists--from the cultural record. TFAP's website promotes current diverse feminist art events, education, and publications. Included is a useful timetable of historical events that identifies key occurrences in the U.S. women's movement since 1955 (starting with Rosa Parks's arrest in Montgomery, Alabama) and locates them on the timeline of important events in the feminist art movement. Documentation for the project is maintained in the Miriam Shapiro Archive at Rutgers.

As TFAP's timeline illustrates, contemporary feminist art originated in the late 1960, inspired by the women's liberation movement and its demands for social, economic, and political change. …