Disrupting the Narrative
"We've begun to raise daughters more like sons... but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters."
"The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.”
- Gloria Steinem
"When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you - pull your beard, flick your face - to make you fight! Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor." - John Lennon
Gloria Steinem











Understanding the Art Historical Methodologies











Feminists protest 1968 Miss America Pageant











Key events that launched the Feminist art movement

Whitney Protestors

1969 Whitney Annual (now a biennial) included 8 women out of 143 artists
1970 Survey reveals that 50% of practicing American artists are women while only 18% of New York's commercial galleries show the work of women artists
Judy Chicago founds the first feminist studio art course at Fresno State University
Los Angeles Council of Women Artists protested exclusion of women artists in LACMA show Art and Technology
1971 Feminist Art Program at California Institute of the Arts
Linda Nochlin's "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists" published
1972 LACMA exhibit - Four Los Angeles Artists presents the work of four women
Ann Arien & Lucy Lippard protesting in front of the Whitney Museum of Art, September 1970, demanding 50% representation of women and non-white artists in the Whitney Annual, 1970.
Womanhouse - first feminist exhibition
Congress passes Equal Rights Amendment; by 1982 had only been ratified by 35 states (three short); has been reintroduced into every session of Congress since
1973 Supreme Court legalizes abortion, Roe v. Wade
US withdraws troops from Vietnam
Oil crisis
1974 President Nixon resigns in aftermath of Watergate scandal
1975 Franco dies and Democracy returns to Spain
1976 LACMA exhibit - Women Artists: 1550 - 1950
1978 First "test tube baby" born in U.K.











A Report on the Art and Technology Program of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1967-1971.
"Artists protest at the opening of the 1981 "Art in Los Angeles: Seventeen Artists in the Sixties" exhibition at LACMA. Upset by its focus on only white, male artists associated with the Ferus Gallery scene, about 100 local artists showed up in masks bearing the face of the exhibition's curator, Maurice Tuchman, and calling for his resignation. Christopher Knight wrote, 'After a decade of neglect of contemporary art in general and L.A. art in particular, for LACMA to re-emerge into the field with an exhibition of artists whose rise to prominence was benignly assisted by common racist and sexist attitudes (especially when racism and sexism were highly visible concerns of the Los Angeles art community in the intervening decade) serves to reopen old wounds rather than celebrate an artistic heritage.' (Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, August 19, 1981)." - Catherine Wagley in East of Borneo











Linda Nochlin and Daisy

Concerns of Second Wave Feminism:
  • Gain full social and economic equality
  • Reveal and question society's definition of women's roles
  • Use collaboration to undermined the authority of patriarchy
  • Examine the natural processes of the body that have
    long been disregarded by western culture
  • To express (finally) the woman's identity
  • "The personal is political"
Alice Neel, Linda Nochlin and Daisy, 1973.











Betye Saar, The Liberation of Aunt Jemima, 1972.











Sylvia Sleigh, The Turkish Bath, 1973.











Carolee Schneemann, Up to and Including Her Own Limits, 1973.











Womb Room

The Feminist Art Program was an experiment in teaching
  • Participants engaged in consciousness raising sessions
  • Collaboration was encouraged with the intention of forming a community
  • Only women allowed in the classroom and studio
Faith Wilding, Womb Room, 1972.











Womanhouse catalog

Womanhouse 1972
theme = women's work
aimed to "search out and reveal the female experience...the dreams and fantasies of women as they sewed, cooked, washed and ironed awyay their lives." - Judy Chicago
Womanhouse catalog











Susan Frazier, Nurtura Kitchen, 1972.











Faith Wilding and Cheryl Zurligen in
Cock and Cunt Play

Faith Wilding performing Waiting











Hannah Wilke, S.O.S. Starification Object Series, 1974.


"People are frightened by female organs because they don't know what they look like" - Hannah Wilke
"I chose gum because it's the perfect metaphor for the American woman- chew her up, get what you want out of her, throw her out and pop in a new piece." - Hannah Wilke











The Dinner Party

Judy Chicago, The Dinner Party, 1974 - 1979.

"Meant to end the ongoing cycle of omission in which women
were written out of the historical record." - Judy Chicago











"A central core, my vagina, that which made me a woman" - Chicago

Sojourner Truth

Emily Dickinson

Dinner Party setting for Mary Wollstonecraft
setting for Sojourner Truth
setting for Emily Dickinson
More place settings











essentialism = the view that, for any specific kind of entity, there is a set of defining characteristics that the entity must possess in order to be recognized as that kind of thing. A classic example is the question of whether a tiger without stripes (an albino) is still a tiger?  The essential properties of a tiger are those without which it is no longer a tiger.











Hortense J. Spillers, "Interstices: A Small Drama of Words," critiques Judy Chicago and the Dinner Party, asserting that, as a White woman, Chicago recreates the erasure of the Black feminine sexual self. Spillers calls to her defense the place setting of Sojourner Truth, the only Black woman of color. After thorough review, it can be seen that all of the place settings depict uniquely designed vaginas, except for Sojourner Truth. The place setting of Sojourner Truth is depicted by three faces, rather than a vagina. Spillers writes, "The excision of the female genitalia here is a symbolic castration. By effacing the genitals, Chicago not only abrogates the disturbing sexuality of her subject, but also hopes to suggest that her sexual being did not exist to be denied in the first place... Much like Spillers's critique, Alice noted in Ms. magazine, "Chicago's ignorance of women of color in history (specifically black women painters), focusing in particular on The Dinner Party's representation of black female subjectivity in Sojourner Truth's plate. Walker states, "It occurred to me that perhaps white women feminists, no less than white women generally, can not imagine black women have vaginas. Or if they can, where imagination leads them is too far to go."