CHECK FOR: Check references – check for plagirism Spell check, grammar check, check tenses, sentence structure – Grammarly and proof read! Is there a dash in first/second-wave feminism? yes Check use of women and woman. Any Americanisms? Capital letters: first/ second wave feminism? — First-wave Feminism Radical feminist art? Radical Feminist art Feminist art? No capital: feminist art Mid-20th century America 1960s/ 1950s – no apostrophe, no ’60s / ’70s Chapter One: Judy Chicago’s Journey to Feminist Art 1.1 The Growing Problem of Female Oppression in Mid 20th-Century America 1.2 The Rise of Second-wave Feminism 1.3 The Rise of Radical Feminist Art 1.4 Judy Chicago: Early Work and Teaching SACKLER (2002 – p4) 1.1 The Growing Problem of Female Oppression in Mid 20th Century America (referenced!) Originating in the nineteenth century, First-wave Feminism, emerged after centuries of widespread female oppression. The movement resulted in suffrage for American women in 1920, as well as ‘laying the groundwork for future feminists’ (Buchanan, 2010) who emerged during the 1960s. First-wave Feminism, alongside the outbreak of the Second World War, resulted in vast numbers of women entering higher education and the workforce for the first time, filling positions previously deemed fit only for men (Friedan, 2010). The end of the war, however, brought the inevitable return of the soldiers and, for many women, the end of working life. Men reclaimed their pre-war jobs, and many women withdrew to the home, no longer ‘needed or wanted in the workforce’ (Bok, 2011). Concurrently, the number of women attending university or in employment, other than in positions of servitude to men (Cottingham, 2000), decreased, and so arose the ‘feminine mystique’ (Friedan, 2010). This term, conceived by iconic feminist author, Betty Friedan in her book of the same name, describes the strange discrepancy between the reality of life for a woman in mid-20th century America and the desired image they were told, from early adolescence, to conform; that of doting wife and mother, glorying in her femininity. Infiltrating the lives of Americans for over a decade, this image was fed to the public, via advertisements and the media, depicting women ‘almost exclusively in the domestic, or private, realm’ (Press and Strathman, 1993). Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the traditional role of homemaker was the principal employment for women (Cottingham, 2000) and dreams of anything other than this pursuit, such as further education or career aspirations, was faced with judgement and pity: something that Judy Chicago would experience from early in her artistic career. Chicago’s ability to be an artist would be denied due to her gender, a wide spread problem present throughout the history of Western art, which shall be discussed later in this chapter. The pressure to adopt the role of adoring housewife, alongside discrimination in areas such as employment and education, slowly gathered silent dissatisfaction among American women throughout the 1960s. Left suffering in silence from growing feelings of identity loss, women began asking, ‘is this all?’ (Friedan, 1963). This ‘problem that has no name’ (Friedan, 1963) haunted women across America who were too ashamed to admit their suffering, believing that others were content in their roles. The dissatisfaction was treated as a ‘problem of gender or sexual maladjustment’ (Bok, 2011) as women blamed themselves, rather than society. The results: vast numbers of women received psychiatric help for problems such as depression and extreme fatigue (Lamb, 2011). The late 1960s, however, saw the rise of Second-wave Feminism, followed by Radical Feminist art, both taking a prominent role within American society over the following decade, as well as within the life of Judy Chicago, a forerunner of feminist art. Sparked by an air of social and political change, women began to challenge inequality. 1.2 The rise of Second-wave Feminism Referenced! (722 words – 1.1 + 1.2) The various political movements of the 1960s, such as the anti-war protests and the civil rights movement, encouraged a challenge to traditional thinking, particularly among the young, across America (Hanks and Goetzman, 2014). Second-wave Feminism, which ‘came as a kind of explosion’ (Schulman, 2002), ignited in the late 1960s as women recognised their need for a separate movement. They were tired of male domination within the actions of the decade, as well as male hegemony within society and throughout history (Cottingham, 2000). The growth of populism around feminist literature was also catalytic, inspiring women to reclaim their identities and demand equality. In the late 1960s, women, who until this point had lacked the ‘concrete means for organising themselves into a unit’ (Beauvoir, 1935), began to group together in order to challenge male domination in the Western world. This movement quickly spread across America, leading to the emergence of Radical Feminist art. 1.3 The rise of Radical Feminist art (1.1+1.2+1.3 – 1,200) REFERENCED Growing out of the Women’s Liberation Movement, Radical Feminist art gave thousands of women the opportunity to challenge the art world through the creation of personal artwork and the establishment of alternative structures. It was a pivotal moment in Western art history which had, until this point, excluded women and dissuaded them from their creativity. For the first time, the opportunity arose for women to unite and demand the right to freely exhibit and produce art, inclusive of female experience (Martinez, 2016). Feminist artists began to break the rules of established visual culture in the American art community, which thrived in the post-war social and economic boom. Centered around the gendered formalism of art critic Clement Greenberg, a highly regarded influencer of visual culture in the 1960s, the American art world celebrated the neutrality of modernism, favoring white males. Disregarded on the basis of their gender, female artists often struggled to achieve recognition unless sexually involved with, or married to an artist involved in the ‘high art’ world (Cottingham, 2000). If recognised by the art world, the key to survival was often the disguise of their femininity, both physically and in subject matter. The desire to reach beyond the exclusivity of the art world was a fundamental aim for feminist artists who used their artwork as consciousness-raising means, allowing female spectators to identify with and learn from their work (Walker, 2002). Artists also challenged modernism’s lack of personal subject matter, demanding the opposite: the creation of art not simply for aesthetic admiration but the personal and political. Feminist artists created this artwork predominantly within an alternative art system over the decade, which responded to the needs of female artists. Thousands of women connected through this support system which offered an exclusively female space for discussion, exhibition and the creation of feminist artwork. The development of female-only spaces for women to thrive was an area that Judy Chicago had a profound impact upon throughout the 1970s. 1.4 Judy Chicago: Early Work and Teaching Born in 1939, Judy Chicago was raised by a politically active, liberal family of Jewish heritage. Both Chicago’s parents had a profound impact on her interests and beliefs from a young age, later reflected on her pursuit of feminist art and teaching. Chicago’s father, a Marxist, cultivated her belief that she could achieve anything, confidence that Chicago would later realise was uncommon among other female artists (Chicago, 1982). Chicago’s mother also played an essential role in her development, supporting her creativity from a young age, (Chicago, 1982) while participation in art classes developed her natural artistic talent. Advancing her artistic education in Southern California, Chicago enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), graduating in 1964 with both a BA and an MA in art. During this time, Chicago was confronted with the art world’s institutionalised sexism in various ways. (Chicago, 1982). Chicago began with producing expressive artwork that ‘grew out of direct feeling and were overt in their femaleness’ (Chicago, 1982). A notable example is Bigamy (fig. 1.1, 1963), a large-scale painting featuring abstract bodily forms, which evolved from the loss of two family members. Given the exclusion of women’s experience throughout art history, Chicago’s female imagery was uncommon and found ‘too womanly’ (Chicago,1982) among tutors. Chicago was also confronted by a male tutor who claimed that women had failed to make any significant contributions to society throughout history (Judychicago.com, 2018), as well as facing degrading comments from men who believed that women could not be successful artists, based solely on their gender. Chicago’s experience with institutionalised sexism in her early artistic career, laid the groundwork for her later pursuit of feminist art and her desire to create an art history inclusive of women and their perspective. The critical reception of Chicago’s work, alongside her desire to be ‘taken seriously in an art world that had no conception of, or room for, feminine sensibility’ (Sackler, 2002), led her to a period of highly minimalist work. Chicago concealed her instinctively female imagery, seen in Rainbow Pickett (fig 1.2, 1965) which includes no personal or female subject matter, while also attempting to masculine her persona in order to be accepted in the L.A. art scene, defined by its ‘swaggering machismo’ (Lucie-Smith, 2000). In 1968, however, Chicago created the Domes series (fig. 1.3.), dome shaped sculptures, can be seen as precursors to the female-centered imagery that Chicago would go on to create. At this point Chicago was not aware of the subtle female forms present in the work, until pointed out to her, leading her to accept that she ‘could no longer pretend in her art that being a woman had no meaning in her life, her entire experience was being shaped by it.’ (Chicago, 1982). From this point onwards, Chicago began working towards the creation of female-centered imagery, inclusive of the experience of women, something that Western art had been devoid of throughout history. This imagery, among other ways in which Chicago challenged male domination, would place her as an icon of feminist art. Having never experienced anything else, Chicago continued working within the minimalist language of the male art world, however, she now began open experimentation with powerful imagery that explored her experience as a woman centered around a ‘cunt’. Chicago embraced this derogatory term for the female genitals, striving to shift the negative connotations of the word, and in doing so ‘implicitly challenge male superiority’ (Chicago, 1982). Pasadena Lifesavers (fig. 1.3.), a series of abstract paintings featuring circular forms, exemplify Chicago’s early efforts to ‘create an abstract art which could convey specific personal content’ (Chicago, 1982). This initial merging of personal content and female-imagery, coincided with the Chicago’s discovery of Second-wave Feminism. Liberated with the realisation that she was not alone in her struggles as a woman and an artist, Chicago recognised the near impossibility of the creation of personal and female artwork, while remaining within a framework centred around the interests of men. Chicago was now aware of the ingrained sexism within the art world, and throughout art history, through her experiences at UCLA and within the L.A. art scene. She had made the first steps towards imagery inclusive of female experience, followed by the acceptance of a teaching job at Fresno State University in California in 1970. This was a momentous moment in art education; the first time in recorded history that a feminist art education was available to American women and the first steps towards a new and alternative art system that would allow the inclusion of female artists and their perspectives (Chicago, 1996). Fresno allowed Chicago the opportunity to experiment with new ways of teaching, allowing for the combination of ‘education and empowerment’ (Chicago, 1996). Key to the programme was the encouragement of artwork that was ‘authentic to one’s lived experience’ (Broude, 1994). Chicago also realised the importance of consciousness-raising within a female-only environment, which allowed space for women to share their experiences and grow in confidence, while also presenting ‘positive female role models’ (Edwards, 1996) through an exploration into women’s history, an area that severely lacked available information. After a year of teaching at Fresno, Chicago relocated to the California Institute of the Arts. Now named The Feminist Art Program, she taught female students alongside artist Miriam Schapiro. Initially, the program manifested itself in a large-scale collaborative installation piece, Womanhouse, situated in a rundown Mansion in Los Angeles. The house was transformed into ‘a three-dimensional canvas’ upon which the students explored personal and dominant issues of sexism within American culture, particularly ‘domestic activities that had been devalued by society’. Chicago’s installation, Menstruation Bathroom (fig.1.4, 1972), explored the taboo surrounding menstruation, while Sherry Brody and Miriam Schapiro’s Dollhouse (fig.1.5, 1972) confronted domestic violence through what they called ‘antipatriarchal satire.’ (Broude, 1994). Womanhouse also hosted performances, a form of artistic expression favoured among feminist artists. The students, as well as Chicago, utilised performance for two primary functions. The first was ‘partly cathartic and therapeutic’, (Lucie-Smith, 2000), providing the students with ‘a release for debilitating, unexpressed anger’ (Chicago, 1975). The second: a method of educating the audience on the authentic experiences of women (Lucie-Smith, 2000). The importance of Womanhouse cannot be understated within feminist art history; Chicago laid the foundations for projects like Womanhouse, which allowed the empowered women through the creation of female-centered artwork and alternative spaces for women to exhibit outwith oppressive art institutions. Raven (1996) regards the impact of Womanhouse as ‘pervasive and lasting’ due to its impact on collaborative art in Southern California, an area that became known globally for collaboration, expanding the concept throughout the world. The collaborative work received significant media attention, bringing ‘entirely new aesthetic subjects that had until then remained in the distant shadows in suburban American homes…into the public sphere’ (Raven, 1996). Over 10,000 people visited during the month-long display to the public. Some men felt threatened by their first experience as the ‘spectators’ of the reality of women’s lives (Chicago, 1982), others revelled in the eye-opening experience. However, the work was predominately aimed towards women. Chicago and the students wanted to create a work that would be relatable, with one female member of the public stating that ‘it was the first work of art that she had ever seen that she completely understood’ (Chicago, 1982). It also profoundly impacted the lives of the students who participated, as well as Chicago herself, who grew in confidence as both women and artists. After the success of Womanhouse, Chicago also led in the opening Feminist Studio Workshop in 1973, situated within an old art school, separate from any established institutions. The Women’s Building, as it was named, was home to the program which supported and aided the development of research and practical skills for women. The building also housed Womanspace, exhibition and gallery spaces, controlled by women and for the use of women, an essential first step towards tackling the problem of women’s artwork being ‘funneled back into an art system controlled by men’ (Chicago,1982). While teaching at the Women’s Building, Chicago made significant progress within her artwork, returning to the mediums that she had worked with since childhood, painting and drawing. Despite appreciating the significance of performance and installation art as important mean for self-expression and consciousness-raising (Lucie-Smith, 2000), Chicago (1982) ‘didn’t want to repudiate the aesthetic tradition in which she was raised, albeit male or pretend that her skills and sophistication were something to be devalued and discarded as ‘male’, ‘elitist’ or ‘bourgeois’. Combining these skills with her interest in women’s art history and female imagery, Chicago created the Through the Flower series (fig.1.6, 1973), followed by the Great Ladies series (fig.1.7, 1973), both of which broke through Chicago’s previously abstract explorations into overt female imagery, inclusion of informative text celebrating women’s achievements throughout history. It was ‘a big step in making her content clear and comprehensible’ to an audience ‘without having to deny her own artmaking process’ (Chicago, 1982). Chicago also developed an interest in china painting while at the Woman’s Building, practicing in both china painting and ceramics. In 1974, Chicago left teaching to focus on combining her new skills with her growing knowledge of women’s history and her breakthrough into explicit female imagery, successfully combining these aspects in Rejection Quintet (fig.1.8, 1974). This piece saw ‘form and content completely meshed’ (Sackler, 2002), leading on to her next work, The Dinner Party.