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August 11, 2009


Feminist art retrospective opens Aug. 26

A studio of their ownCalifornia State University, Fresno will host an exhibition titled “A Studio of Their Own: The Legacy of the Fresno Feminist Experiment,” documenting the foundation of the nation’s first feminist art education program at Fresno State in 1970 and its legacy in contemporary art.

The retrospective show will be Aug. 26-Oct. 9 at the Phebe Conley Art Gallery in the Conley Art Building on campus. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 2-5 p.m. Sunday. There also will be an artists’ reception and a symposium on Sept. 17 and 18. All events are free and open to the public.

The show was assembled by Dr. Laura Meyer, associate professor of art and design at Fresno State.

Meeting off campus in a Studio of Their Own in 1970, 15 female students and instructor Judy Chicago worked together to pioneer key strategies of the early feminist art movement. Included were collaboration, use of “female technologies” such as sewing, costume and performance, and early forms of media critique.

The upcoming exhibit and accompanying catalog offer an important corrective to art history texts that trace the roots of feminist art education in the United States to the program established by Chicago and Miriam Shapiro at the California Institute of the Arts in 1971. Those accounts overlook the movement’s beginnings at Fresno State the previous year.

“A Studio of Their Own” draws attention to the experimentation in Fresno that prepared the way for the collaborative feminist art installation, “Womanhouse,” and the feminist art programs at CalArts and the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles.

Besides highlighting rarely shown art created during the first year of the Fresno feminist program, “A Studio of Their Own” features recent work by alumni Dori Atlantis, Jackie Doumanian, Vanalyne Green, Shawnee Wollenman Johnson, Suzanne Lacy, Karen LeCocq, Jan Lester Martin, Chris Rush, Faith Wilding and Nancy Youdelman.

Several alumni of the Fresno feminist experiment have established international reputations for their pioneering work in feminist video, performance and new-genre public practice. Together, all helped lay the groundwork for what one critic has called “a whole new relationship between art and society.”

Original performance art by SubRosa (“International Markets in Flesh”) and LeCocq (“Léa’s Room”) will be part of the artists’ reception (5-8 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Conley Gallery). Program alumni will present their work during the symposium (Sept. 17-18 in Alice Peters Auditorium and Conley Art 101) and art historian Moira Roth will moderate a panel discussion at the Fresno Art Museum (Sept. 18).

Roth is enthusiastic about the exhibition, calling it “so exciting, so original, so what is needed right now.”

An exhibition catalog published by Fresno State Press will include historical and critical essays by Meyer and program alumna Wilding.

For further information, contact Meyer at lmeyer@csufresno.edu or 559.228.1239, or Youdelman at nyoudelman@comcast.net or 449.298.1688.


Related link:

Exhibition Web site