WOMANHOUSE: Cradle of Feminist Art by Sandra Sider

Posted August 05, 2010 by admin

WOMANHOUSE: Cradle of Feminist Art

January 30 - February 28, 1972

by Sandra Sider

Although female artists were certainly recognized in this country before the end
of the 1960s, their artistic styles, for the most part, conformed to the dominant
modes of male artists, notably Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism during
the 1950s and 1960s. The content of the works of female artists had little basis in
women's history or women's experiences. During the latter 1960s, Judy Chicago,
for example, was painting large-format lifesavers in colors of the rainbow.
Miriam Schapiro was painting bright geometric shapes. In retrospect, both
artists incorporated several of these works into the background of their nascent
feminism. Chicago called it "cunt art." Chicago's first work to use this aggressively
feminist term in the title was Click Cunts of 1969.(1) At the end of that
year, she officially changed her name from Judy Gerowitz to Judy Chicago,
divesting herself "of all names imposed upon her through male social

Chicago and Schapiro engendered the feminist art movement that exploded in
southern California in the early 1970s.(3) Schapiro had moved there in 1967 when her husband Paul Brach became chair of the Art Department at the University of California, San Diego, in La Jolla. In 1970 he was appointed dean of the newly established California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts), located in Valencia (then about an hour's drive from Los Angeles). Brach had accepted the position with the
condition that his wife would become a member of the faculty. Lloyd Hamrol,
Chicago's husband at the time, was teaching at Cal Arts. Chicago herself was in
Fresno in the fall of 1970, having accepted a one-year teaching position at Fresno
State College to establish a Feminist Art Program. Her purpose there was to
create a studio environment exclusively for female students, interviewing and
then selecting only those students whom she believed would develop into
serious artists. Many of the early classes in Chicago's program functioned as
"consciousness-raising" seminars, before feminists began using the term.

Schapiro and Chicago first met at a dinner held in the home of Allan Kaprow, where they discussed the possibility of Schapiro lecturing at Fresno State. Schapiro spoke about her ideas of feminism to Chicago’s students in Fresno, and after the lecture Chicago and her students had a party for their guest in the five thousand-square-foot studio that the class had built in an old Community Theatre.
That renovation work foreshadowed the
construction in Womanhouse the following year. The students benefited
from Schapiro's critiques, and several students presented performances with
feminist themes, as they would later do in Womanhouse.(4)

Schapiro and Chicago began to talk about working as a team to establish a
Feminist Art Program at Cal Arts, a goal fulfilled in the fall of 1971.
Moreover, several Cal Arts students in a research seminar had been amassing
information on women artists for an archive at Cal Arts. Schapiro's assistant
made slides for visual documentation, and the first illustrated database of
women's art was created. (By the Fall term of 1972, Arlene Raven had been hired
to teach art history at Cal Arts, including art history "from a woman's point of
view" for the Feminist Art Program.(5) Cal Arts was a very "happening" place
in the early 1970s. Sheila de Bretteville, for example, established a Feminist
Design Program there. (In 1973 she would found the Feminist Studio Workshop
in Los Angeles, along with Chicago and Arlene Raven.) Male artists involved
with Cal Arts included John Baldessari, Eric Fischl, Allan Kaprow, and David
Salle. The school had a well-connected board of trustees, including people
involved with the film industry, and the head of the school was married to a
member of the Disney family.

The purpose of the Feminist Art Program at Cal Arts was to "help women
restructure their personalities to be more consistent with their desires to be
artists and to help them build their art making out of their experiences as
women."(6) Both Chicago and Schapiro believed that the art world stifled the
creativity of female artists, forcing them to function within uninspiring male
paradigms. Chicago's classes at Fresno State were the first instance on the West
Coast of female students making art within an all-female environment, and
women artists came from Los Angeles and other cities to experience the art
works and performances. Schapiro and Chicago realized that they were
involved in an historic endeavor at Cal Arts, and they wanted their major project
for the school year to be memorable. Art historian Paula Harper, who taught at
the school, suggested that the students might collaborate on installations in an
abandoned house, which would be called Womanhouse. Chicago and
Schapiro functioned as facilitators, encouraging their twenty-one students to
work out their own ideas (Figure 1) (see Appendix I, List of Names).
Initially, the classes met in homes of the students because the Cal Arts space was
under construction.(7) The completed project would feature feminist art by the
students, Chicago, and Schapiro, as well as by three local artists invited to
participate in the project (Sherry Brody, Carol Edison Mitchell, and Wanda

After searching Los Angeles for an abandoned house that was large enough for
the project and that could be used without charge, the group located a
dilapidated house at 553 Mariposa Avenue in Hollywood. The elderly woman
who owned it was intrigued with the concept of Womanhouse, and the
demolition of the house was postponed until the spring of 1972. Members of the
Feminist Art Program had three months to renovate the building and complete
their installations. Both Chicago and Schapiro have emphasized that
Womanhouse was a monumental undertaking. Their essay in the 32-page
exhibition catalogue indicated the frustration and anger of the students as they
were pushed almost beyond their limits of endurance.(8)

Most of the Cal Arts students lived in or near Valencia, and several of them had
jobs. Working each day on cleaning and repairing Womanhouse, they
suffered from sleep deprivation and exhaustion. In addition, much of the work
was not "art work," but rather general repair work, such as carpentry, plastering,
glazing windows, and rewiring. Some of the students were learning these skills
as they did the jobs, with Chicago especially pushing them to finish. Planning
their installations was also stressful, as the group sat in a circle on the kitchen
floor. Tensions concerning their mothers rose to the surface as they discussed
their feelings about that particular room. Schapiro described the atmosphere in
her article on Womanhouse published in the Spring 1972 issue of Art
: "it became obvious that the kitchen was a battleground where
women fought with their mothers for their appropriate share of comfort and
love. It was an arena where ostensibly the horn of plenty overflowed, but where
in actuality the mother was acting out her bitterness over being imprisoned in a
situation from which she could not bring herself to escape, and from which
society would not encourage such an escape."(9)

Finally, in mid-January, the installations were almost completed and people were
beginning to come view the house. It was opened to the public on January 30th, 1972, and closed on February 28th. The annual conference of the College Art
Association had ended in San Francisco on January 29th, and some of the
attendees came to Los Angeles afterwards, with Womanhouse among the
exhibitions that they visited.(11) Nearly 10,000 people visited
Womanhouse, and Faith Wilding would comment five years later about
how the collaboration was "a valuable education for the students, who learned
how to give tours, to articulate what they were doing, and to maintain their own
vision in the face of criticism."(11) The exhibition received coverage on
national television and in popular magazines, such as Time (Figure 2,
where the review was entitled "Bad-Dream House").(12) It was also reviewed in
the Los Angeles Times during the final week of the exhibition.(13) With
the help of Daniel Selznik, who was on the Cal Arts board of trustees,
documentary filmmaker Joanna Demetrakis received a grant from the American
Film Council to film Womanhouse. The exhibition had eighteen display
areas, including three bathrooms, two closets, and the garden behind the house.
Because a space was needed for performances, the living room area was left
open. The Womanhouse catalogue, designed by Sheila de Bretteville,
depicted Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro on the cover, seated at the top of the
steps leading to the house (Figure 3).

Visitors approached the house by walking along a pathway with tall, leafy
bushes on either side.*(14) The exterior of the house was painted white, with
"WOMANHOUSE" in small sans-serif letters discreetly stenciled over the handle
to the front door.* The Nurturant Kitchen, created by Vicki Hodgetts,
Susan Frazier, and Robin Weltsch, was one of the most memorable rooms
(Figure 4 ). Painted completely in bright pink, including the canned
good and appliances, the room had vacu-formed plastic curtains by Wanda
Westcoast, one of the invited artists. Aprons were suspended on pegs along one
wall. The insides of the drawers featured collages of exotic locales that
represented the fantasy travel that might have been in the minds of women
trapped at home in their kitchens. There were also several portraits of notable
women, such as Angela Davis, with definite political overtones.* Visitors
especially noticed the spongy sunny-side eggs fastened to the ceiling that
morphed to breasts as they went down the wall and then became eggs once
again as they approached the stove. The breasts were soft and could be squeezed
by visitors.* Linda Nochlin in a recent interview said that she remembers the
kitchen as "very impressive."(15)

The other room connected with the nurturing theme of food was the dining
room, the most elaborate group effort of the entire project (Figure 5).
The installation was by Miriam Schapiro, Faith Wilding, Beth Bachenheimer,
Karen LeCocq, Robin Mitchell, and invited artist Sherry Brody. Everything in
the dining room was produced by the group, from the vinyl chandelier to the
bread-sculpture fruit. The focal point of the room was a mural that reproduced a
still life by the nineteenth-century American artist Anna Claypoole Peale (1791-
1878) (Figure 6 ). Schapiro's idea "was to introduce them [the students]
to the Peale family, especially to the women who were artists."(16) Obviously,
the women liked the vaginal connotation of the sliced watermelon with its
centric imagery. Nochlin (in the same interview) said, "What really surprised me
was that there was not any sort of really wild painting." But then she remarked
that the Peale mural was "probably more appropriate." The Womanhouse
artists, by copying Peale's painting, were not only celebrating her talent but also
positioning themselves within a legacy of American women artists. While
working on Womanhouse, one of the students, Nancy Youdelman, (17)
found a book in a thrift shop about the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in
Chicago. Judy Chicago was struck by the fact that the Exposition had included a
woman's building, designed by a female architect, and featuring a three-part
mural by Mary Cassatt entitled Modern Woman. The Womanhouse
artists had discovered an historical precedent for their current artistic
undertaking, even though the content was vastly different.

Faith Wilding's Womb Room, also entitled Crocheted Environment
and Web Room (Figure 7), was, in Arlene Raven's words, "a
representation of not only a site but a biological passage." (18) Wilding herself
explained the crocheted structure as "a contemporary response to the round-
shaped shelters built by female ancestors for themselves and their families."(19)
In contrast to the expansive enclosure of Womb Room, the three
bathrooms of Womanhouse packed powerful messages into rather small
spaces. The Nightmare Bathroom by Robbin Schiff had a female figure
constructed of sand in the tub and all the bottles filled with sand (Figure
). Part of the figure was worn away during the exhibition because people
could not resist touching her face and hair. Camille Grey's Lipstick
was completely painted in bright red, including all the toiletry
items and more than one hundred tubes of phallic lipstick tightly packed on the
shelves (Figure 9).*

The most famous bathroom, however, was Judy Chicago's Menstruation
, which contained a good number of the 10,000 tampons that most
women discard within a lifetime (Figure 10). There were also "feminine
hygiene" products that were just beginning to enter the market, such as a can of
Revlon vaginal spray.*(20) Visitors were not permitted to enter the bathroom,
but had to view it through a sheet of gauze suspended in the doorway. Colin
Eisler, who went by himself to see Womanhouse, said in a recent
interview: "I will never forget it!" Interestingly, he has conflated the
Menstruation Bathroomwith the Lipstick Bathroom, recalling that
there "was so much red." His reaction to these two parts of the exhibition, now
fused in his memory, was "visceral, very physical." Demetrakis's film included
an interview (in the dining room) about the Menstruation Bathroom with
three middle-aged Caucasian men dressed in business suits. Their level of
discomfort was palpable as they struggled to define the symbolism of the
bathroom. One man used vaguely humorous remarks to veil his embarrassment,
finally blurting out, "A lot of the house is amusing, and this is not

Color, as seen above in the kitchen and bathrooms, was an important component
of Womanhouse. Three bedrooms were painted, one in trompe l'oeil.
Robin Mitchell created an abstract-expressionist bedroom (Figure 11).
"The bed, the chest, the chair, the vase of flowers, the ceiling, the floor, windows,
walls, all are covered with paint gesturally marked as if the artist's hand was
compelled to touch it all."(21) Mira Schor's Red Moon Room depicted a
self-portrait of the artist in a moody landscape. She described the room as "the
dark side of myself."(22) Stark white "bones" contributed to the atmosphere of
the Garden Jungle (in the back yard of the house) by Paula Longendyke
(Figure 12). She created several "prehistoric" skeletons that dominated
the space.* Contrasting with the skeletons were the Necco Wafers
whimsically painted in pastels by Christine Rush on the ground itself, so that
"the ground would sort of float in the garden and seem unreal."(23)

Female mannequins appeared in two of the installations, including the Bridal
by Kathy Huberland (Figure 13). At the top of the
staircase the smiling bride was decked in flowers and ribbons, all covered in a
white veil, but then her white satin train descended the stairs and turned to gray.
Following the train, in Schapiro's words, "we see her--dirty, gray, used--crashed
headlong into the bottom wall, the entire front half of her body invisible."(24)
Huberland described the bride as "an offering," as if she were on an altar.(25)
The female form was also important for Sandra Orgel's Linen Closet, with
a woman organized and contained as neatly as her linens (Figure 14). In
the process, she was decapitated. Beth Bachenheimer's colorful Shoe
containing the means by which women might attempt to step into
another identity, was the first in a long line of feminist art works focusing on
shoes (Figure 15).(26) Many of the shoes were colorfully (but not
neatly) painted.*

Clothing and costume also played a crucial role in Leah's Room, created
by Karen LeCocq and Nancy Youdelman. Inspired by the novel Chéri,
Colette's story about an aging courtesan, this heavily perfumed bedroom was
filled with antiques (Figure 16.). There were also objects that may have
been meant as symbols, such as a gilded bird cage. A woman (LeCocq) slowly
and silently applied cosmetics and then removed them, causing many women to
weep openly as they observed the performance. The cosmetics were applied
thickly, quite lavishly.* In Chéri, the lover for whom Leah prepares
herself is a vain young fortune hunter, who in the end abandons her when she
loses her outer beauty. The novel's story gave added poignancy to the

Miriam Schapiro's work for The Dollhouse, in which she was assisted by
Sherry Brody, marked a turning point in her career (Figure 17).(28) As
the artist explained to Thalia Gouma-Petersen, " it made her see art-making from
another perspective--from 'the eyes of a woman.' Dollhouse, to some a
'frivolous' work, released Schapiro from the previous imperatives to create
mainstream art … . She transformed her private life into a public act, validating
the traditional activities of women, which she had, until then, dismissed."(29)

Two artists created solo performances based on the repetitive actions of house
work, similar to LeCocq's actions of applying make-up and then removing it.
Christine Rush scrubbed a floor, pouring water from a bucket. The monotony of
this work was described by Arlene Raven: "Back and forth, over and over, her
arms circle and circle the floor in continuous motion scrubbing with a brush and
plenty of elbow grease."(30) Sandra Orgel stood mutely at an ironing board
(Figure 18), endlessly ironing a large piece of plasticized fabric with a
cold iron, and then tightly folding it to resemble the sheets in her Linen
.*(31) She became both artist and subject, presenting a new
perspective on the paintings of a woman ironing executed by male artists.
Shawnee Wollenmann performed in the brightly-colored Nursery where
she had created adult-sized toys and furniture, occasionally riding the rocking
horse* in what she described as an "androgynous" space.(32)

Womanhouse also included several group performances. The most
notorious was the Cock and Cunt Play written by Judy Chicago
(Figure 19). It was performed by Faith Wilding, who flaunted a giant
penis, and Janice Lester, who wore a giant round vagina (foreshadowing the
plates in Chicago's Dinner Party). They spoke in time to the measured
beat of a drum, marching and holding their bodies stiffly, like marionettes with
no will of their own.* Other notable performances were the Birth Trilogy,
comparable to wiccan ceremonies (Figure 20), and Faith Wilding's solo
performance in Waiting, which she also wrote (Figure 21).
Waiting helped to spread the message of feminism because Wilding
generously opened her copyright to allow anyone to perform the skit at any time
for any reason. All these pieces were performed for a women-only audience
shortly before Womanhouse was open to the general public. The
responses ranged from uproarious laughter to screaming and sobs. As Suzanne
Lacy wrote in a recent email message, " it was always emotional for women
when they first began to see other women talking about formerly hidden

The creative process of self-exploration and self-realization was the main
purpose of Womanhouse and of the Feminist Art Program. Arlene Raven
explained the artists' experience in Womanhouse as a powerful
confrontation with issues of identity, in which the students learned that "what
we 'make' of our lives is an invention of meaning and human triumph or despair.
And no one else can take up for us the burden of being ourselves."(34) After the
exhibition closed, some of the art was sold at an auction to benefit the Program.
Several artists kept their pieces, or at least what they could remove from the
house. The Dollhouse was later purchased by the Smithsonian, after Schapiro added a pediment and shutters.(35) Faith Wilding's Womb Room
unfortunately was stolen during the final days of the exhibition.

Several of the Womanhouse artists were interviewed during the mid-to-
late 1990s by Ulrike Müller, a video artist who participated in the Whitney
Independent Study program in 2002-2003.(36) Her research project involving
the Cal Arts Feminist Art Program, called "re:tracing," was partially supported
by the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles. Although most
reactions from the artists were positive, at least one (Judy Huddleston) felt that
the "over-idealistic values" of the Program did not adequately prepare her for the
economic issues confronting female artists in the 1970s. Sandra Orgel (now
Crooker) remarked that she was nineteen years old in 1971 and the Program
made a "great impression" on her. She continues "to take tremendous pride in
women's strength, development, and accomplishments." Robin Mitchell, who
explained that it took "a tremendous amount of strength on my part to find my
identity as an artist" has mixed feelings about Womanhouse and the Cal
Arts Program: "At times it seemed chaotic, volatile, and sometimes wrong
directed, even though it was exciting and inspiring. Twenty years later history is
trying to tie it into a neat package. It was not."

One year after Womanhouse closed, Lucy Lippard prophetically
recognized the inherent power of feminist aesthetics in an article published by
Ms. magazine: "Many women artists have organized, are shedding their
shackles, proudly untying the apron strings--and, in some cases, keeping the
apron on, flaunting it, turning it into art."(37) Although Womanhouse
can never be recreated, and certainly would not elicit the same reactions today, a
few of the rooms have been recreated for special exhibitions. In 1995, for
example, the Bronx Museum of the Arts exhibited The Dollhouse , with
Wilding crocheting a Womb Room , Chicago recreating the
Menstruation Bathroom , Bachenheimer recreating the Shoe Closet ,
and Sherry Brody lending Lingerie Pillows for the exhibition Division of
Labor: 'Women's Work' in Contemporary Art
. The feminist spirit of
Womanhouse lives on in the web site Womenhouse , which was
inspired by the groundbreaking 1972 exhibition. Faith Wilding is among the
participants in this collaborative site featuring virtual rooms and domestic
spaces. Womenhouse catapults the issues raised by Womanhouse
into the twenty-first century, within "a cyberpolitics that addresses the
multivalent vicissitudes of identity formation and domesticity."(38)


(1) Jenni Sorkin,Minimal/Liminal: Judy Chicago and Minimalism: 1965-1973 (Santa Fe: Lew
Allen Contemporary, 2004), p. 9.

(2) Judy Chicago, Through the Flower: My Struggles as A Woman Artist (New York: Penguin
Books, 1975), p. 63 (part of the exhibition notice in Chicago's solo show curated by Dextra Frankel
at California State College at Fullerton).

(3) Judy Chicago's archives at the Schlesinger Library for the History of Women in America
(Harvard University) have recently been catalogued, according to an email from her of Sept. 27,
2004. The direct link via the Internet is

(4) Chicago, op. cit., p. 84.

(5) In a phone interview of Nov. 9, 2004, Arlene Raven remarked that when she was a student in
art history classes, Mary Cassatt was the only female artist whose work was included in the
curriculum. While teaching at Cal Arts, Raven spent many hours in southern California looking
through stores such as Acres of Books (in Long Beach) to collect books that included women

(6) Linda Nochlin, "Foreword," in Thalia Gouma-Peterson, Miriam Schapiro: Shaping the
Fragments of Art and Life
(New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1999), p. 10 (quoting the
catalogue essay by Chicago and Schapiro).

(7) Faith Wilding, By Our Own Hands: The Women Artist's [sic] Movement, Southern California
(Santa Monica: Double X, 1977), p. 25.

(8) Chicago, Judy and Miriam Schapiro. "Womanhouse" (Valencia,CA: California Institute
of the Arts, 1971), pp. (2-3). See Appendix III.

(9) Miriam Schapiro, "Education of Women as Artists: Project Womanhouse," Art
31 (no. 3, Spring 1972), p. 269. Interestingly, in the spirit of maintaining collaborative
credit for the project, Schapiro did not stipulate which artists created which rooms.

(10) Colin Eisler, interview at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York, Sept. 27, 2004.

(11) Faith Wilding, op. cit., p. 28.

(12) Sandra Burton, "Bad-Dream House," Time Magazine: Special Issue, The American Woman (March 20, 1972), p. 77 (illustrating the Shoe Closet, Womb Room, and Nurturant Kitchen). This issue is quite valuable as a document of the women's movement, featuring articles on women and various subjects, such as law, medicine, and education. On the same page
as the Womanhouse review is a "Situation Report" on women artists and architects. As a
footnote to history, the bizarre juxtaposition of advertisements (probably placed months before
the special issue was announced) and articles is notable. One page before the Womanhouse
review, for example, is a full-page cigarette ad depicting the Marlboro man on his horse.
The full-page ad on the inside front cover for Stouffer's frozen spinach soufflé has this bit of
deathless prose: "Tonight you're having chicken again. And the family always likes it a lot. But,
last week you used up your last idea on how to make it different. It's a good day for Stouffer's."

(13) William Wilson, "Lair of Female Creativity," Los Angeles Times, February 21,

(14) Joanna Demetrakis,Womanhouse [color video] (New York: Women Make Movies, [1996?], VHS conversion of the 1972 motion picture directed and edited by her). My descriptions of Womanhouse based on viewing the video are indicated in the remainder of this paper by an asterisk. More than half of the film documents the performances, showing Cock and Cunt and Waiting in their entirety, as well as most of theBirth Trilogy.
Although most of the Womanhouse rooms are in the video, several are depicted only
fleetingly. The film has a group assessment of the Womanhouse experience by the
students and Judy Chicago, recorded the evening that the exhibition closed. The conversations
include Chicago's advice that one must "stop the process of the outside world" to make art.

(15) Linda Nochlin, interview at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York, Sept. 28, 2004.

(16) Miriam Schapiro, email of Nov. 21, 2004.

(17) Faith Wilding, op. cit., p. 27.

(18) Arlene Raven, "Womanhouse," in Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard, eds. The
Power of Feminist Art: The American Movement of the 1970s, History and Impact
(New York:
Harry N. Abrams, 1994), p. 55.

(19) Faith Wilding, caption to illustration of her piece, in Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard,
eds. The Power of Feminist Art: The American Movement of the 1970s, History and Impact
(New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1994), p. 63.

(20) The first "feminine hygiene deodorant spray" was marketed by Massengill in 1970, as noted
in Thomas Frank, The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip
(Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1998), p. 153.

(21) Schapiro, op. cit. p. 269.

(22) Mira Schor, "Red Moon Room," in Womanhouse[Valencia, CA: California Institute of
the Arts, 1971], p. (17).

(23) Christine Rush, "Necco Wafers," in Womanhouse [Valencia, CA: California
Institute of the Arts, 1971], p. (24).

(24) Schapiro, op. cit., p. 27

(25) Kathy Huberland, "Bridal Staircase," in Womanhouse [Valencia, CA: California
Institute of the Arts, 1971], p. (14).

(26) Raven, op. cit., p. 63.

(27) Gislind Nabakowski, Frauen in der Kunst, vol. 1 (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1980), p. 227.

(28) Demetrakis's film shows very close details of the Dollhouse rooms.

(29) Gouma-Peterson, op.cit., pp. 70-71.

(30) Arlene Raven, Crossing Over: Feminism and Art of Social Concern (Ann Arbor and
London: U.M.I. Research Press, 1988), p. 25.

(31) Gislind Nabokowski, op. cit. p. 232.

(32) Shawnee Wollenman, "The Nursery," in Womanhouse [Valencia, CA:
California Institute of the Arts, 1971], p. (15).

(33) Suzanne Lacy, email message of Oct. 23, 2004.

(34) Arlene Raven, Crossing Over, p. 111.

(35) As of October 2006, The Dollhouse will be displayed in the new Luce Center for sculptural works in the Smithsonian (Miriam Schapiro, autograph letter signed to the author, Aug. 9, 2006, p. 3)

(36) The interviews can be accessed via the web site

(37) Lucy Lippard, "Household Images in Art," Ms. 1 (no. 9, March 1973), p. 22.

(38) (opening page).


Paula Harper (suggested the project)


*Judy Chicago

*Miriam Schapiro


*Beth Bachenheimer

#Susan Frazier

Camille Grey

Vicky Hodgett

Kathy Huberland

*Judy Huddleston

*Janice Johnson

*Karen LeCocq

*Janice Lester

*Paula Longendyke

Ann Mills

*Robin Mitchell

*Sandra Orgel

*Jan Oxenburg

*Christine Rush

Marsha Salisbury

*Robbin Schiff

*Mira Schor

Robin Weltsch

*Faith Wilding

Shawnee Wollenmann

*Nancy Youdelman

Invited fiber artists:

*Sherry Brody

Carol Edison Mitchell

Wanda Westcoast

*artist or writer today

#art consultant



(in collaboration with Genevieve Hendricks and Kate Moomaw)

1963 The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

1964 Civil Rights Act includes gender among its anti-discrimination clauses

1964 Margaret Chase Smith is the first woman to run for President

1966 NOW (National Organization for Women) is founded

1967 ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) introduced in the Senate

1967 New York Radical Women

1968 WITCH

1968 Redstockings manifesto

1968 First National Women's Liberation Conference

1968 Women's Liberation movement trashing bras at Miss America pageant

1969 WAR (Women Artists in Revolution) organized to oppose discrimination against
women in the art world

1970 Sexual Politics by Kate Millett

1970 First Washington march for women's equality

1970 Ad Hoc Women Artists' Committee forms from Art Workers Coalition

1970 Redstockings Artists founded by Pat Mainardi, Irene Peslikis, Marjorie Kramer,
and Lucia Vernarelli

1970 WSABAL (Women Students and Artists for Black Art Liberation) by Faith
Ringgold and her daughters Michele and Barbara Wallace

1970 LACWA (Los Angeles Council of Women Artists) organizes protests

1971 Linda Nochlin's "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" published in

1971 National Women's Political Caucus

1971 WIA (Women in the Arts), New York City

1971 Lucy Lippard's "Sexual Politics, Art Style" in Art in America

1971 Miriam Schapiro and Judy Chicago begin Feminist Art Program at California
Institute of the Arts (Los Angeles)

1972 Womanhouse exhibition in Los Angeles, open to the public for one month
(Jan. 30-Feb. 28), with nearly 10,000 visitors

1972 WEB (West-East Bag) networking women artists on both coasts

1972 Ms. Magazine founded, with editor Gloria Steinem

1972 WCA (Women's Caucus for Art) of the College Art Association

1972 A.I.R. Gallery founded, New York City

1972 Women's Interart Center, New York City, with open exhibition program

1973 Women Choose Women exhibition at the New York Cultural Center

1973 Feminist Art Journal founded

1973 Soho 20, women's cooperative gallery, New York City

1973 Roe v. Wade passes into law

1973 Woman's Building opens, Los Angeles (others then open in other cities)

1975 Women Artists Newsletter founded

1976 Woman Artists: 1550-1950 opens at LACMA and then tours in U.S.

1977 Heresies magazine in New York and Chrysalis in Los Angeles

1977 Marcia Tucker opens the New Museum of Contemporary Art (after being fired
from the Whitney Museum)

1979 Margaret Thatcher elected Prime Minister of Great Britain

1979 Dinner Party by Judy Chicago opens in San Francisco and then tours U.S.

1980 First National Hispanic Feminist Conference

1980 Woman's Art Journal in Knoxville and WARM in Minneapolis

1981 Sandra Day O'Connor first woman justice on the Supreme Court

1982 ERA fails to be ratified by Congress

1982 Sally Ride first American woman in space

1983 Geraldine Ferraro first woman vice-presidential candidate of a major party

1983 Events: En Foco: Heresies Collective exhibition at the New Museum

1984 Difference: On Representation and Sexuality at the New Museum

1985 First actions of the Guerrilla Girls

1987 National Museum of Women in the Arts opens, Washington

1989 600,000 march in Washington for abortion rights and equality

1990 Jenny Holzer first woman to represent U.S. in Venice Biennale

1991 Backlash, The Undeclared War against American Women by Susan Faludi

1992 WAC (Women's Action Coalition) in 35 states

1992 750,000 gather in Washington for the March for Women's Lives

1993 Jocelyn Elders is asked to resign for her position on masturbation (she was the
first female surgeon-general)


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New York: Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1995, pp. 67-69 (exhibition catalogue,
reprinting the original 1971 catalogue essay).

Broude, Norma and Mary D. Garrard. "Conversations with Judy Chicago and Miriam
Schapiro,' in Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard, eds. The Power of Feminist Art: The
American Movement of the 1970s, History and Impact.
New York: Harry N. Abrams,
1994, pp. 66-85.

Burnham, Linda Frye. High Performance, Performance, and Me," The Drama
30 (no. 1, Spring 1986), pp. 15-51.

Burton, Sandra. "Bad-Dream House," Time Magazine (20 March 1972, "Special
Issue: The American Woman"), p 77.

Chicago, Judy. Through the Flower: My Struggle as a Woman Artist. New York and
London: Penguin Books, 1993.

Demetrakis, Joanna. Womanhouse [color video]. New York: Women Make
Movies, [1996?] (VHS conversion of the 1972 motion picture directed and edited by her).

Frank, Thomas. The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of
Hip Consumerism.
Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1998 (see for
the marketing of products to women).

Gouma-Peterson, Thalia and Patricia Mathews. "The Feminist Critic of Art History,"
The Art Bulletin 69 (no. 3, Sept. 1987), pp. 326-357.

______. Miriam Schapiro: Shaping the Fragments of Art and Life. New York: Harry
N. Abrams, 1999.

Harper, Paula. "The First Feminist Art Program: A View from the 1980s," Signs
10 (no. 4: Communities of Women, Summer 1985), pp. 762-781.

Hayes, Jacqueline Genevieve. Representations of Utopias: The Politics of Women's Group
, 1969-1992. Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1994.

Kwon, Miwon. "One Place after Another: Notes on Site Specificity," October 80
(Spring 1997), pp. 85-110.

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Nabakowski, Gislind et al. Frauen in der Kunst. 2 vols. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp,

Nochlin, Linda. "Miriam Schapiro: Recent Work," Arts Magazine 48 (Nov. 1973),
pp. 38-41.

Olsen, Sanne Kofod. "Waiter, There's a Woman in My Soup! On Feminist Art and the
History and Distribution of Art in Denmark," published online in the web site

Raven, Arlene. Crossing Over: Feminism and Art of Social Concern. Ann Arbor and
London: U.M.I. Research Press, 1988.

______. "Womanhouse," in Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard, eds. The
Power of Feminist Art: The American Movement of the 1970s, History and Impact.
York: Harry N. Abrams, 1994, pp. 48-65.

Schapiro, Miriam. "Education of Women as Artists: Project Womanhouse,"
Art Journal 31 (no. 3, Spring 1972), pp. 268-270.

Schor, Mira. "A Plague of Polemics," Art Journal 50 (no. 4, Winter 1991), pp. 36-

Wawzonek, Donna Lee. Constructions of Home: The Interrelationship between Gendered
Exhibition Sites and Contemporary Canadian Installation Art.
M.A. thesis, Carleton
University, 1997.

Womanhouse. [Valencia, CA: California Institute of the Arts, 1971] (exhibition

Wilding, Faith. By Our Own Hands: The Women Artist's [sic] Movement, Southern
California 1970-1976
. Santa Monica: Double X, 1977.

______. "The Feminist Art Programs at Fresno and Calarts, 1970-75," in Norma Broude
and Mary D. Garrard, eds. The Power of Feminist Art: The American Movement of the
1970s, History and Impact.
New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1994, pp. 32-47.

Womanhouse [exhibition catalogue]. [Valencia: California Institute of the Arts,
1971.] links to several letters written by Womanhouse
participants about their experiences, prompted by an inquiry [after 1998] from artist
Ulrike Müller.