I pick up Susan Griffin’s first book. She thanks Michele Cliff in the acknowledgements and notes journals like Sinister Wisdom. I pick up Of Woman Born and Rich quotes Griffin, thanks Robin Morgan, Mary Daly, and Kirsten Grimstad and Susan Rennie, editors of Chrysalis. I begin to understand the circles, overlapping, of activists, authors, artists interested in women’s culture in the 1970s and how small that world must have been. These are also the same women most frequently listed as “cultural feminists” (link to google book resources on my emerging Omeka site). However, the circles are really much wider, and cast doubts on this notion that something called “cultural feminism” can be sorted out from women’s liberation at all. Part of the project of The Politics of Women’s Culture is to delineate the circles of various people talking about women’s culture, and explore their overlaps. However, for artists that proves far harder than for authors.
One of the most fascinating artists of this era, who is finally getting some major attention, is the artist Carolee Schneemann, probably best known for her early piece, Interior Scroll (1975). This piece working from the body was among those most frequently slammed by the “essentialist label” the n’est plus ultra of writing with the body (see Annette Kubitza’s fascinating article about shifting perceptions of Schneemann’s work.
|photo credit, artist’s website|
So imagine my suprrise as I sifted through Schneeman’s papers at the Getty this summer, where they are, as an aside, quite the hot collection, feminist art is def. having its renaissance. Here are Schneemann’s notes on the program for the Scholar and The Feminist conference at Barnard in 1976, and again in 1979. Here is a draft manuscript from the feminist theologian Elaine Pagels. Here she is protesting against censorship. Here is her voluminous, and heavily annotated, clippings about feminist issues from the popular press. Here are her copies of the radical feminist periodical Off Our Backs. Here are the copious notes she took from various primary and secondary historical sources for her work Missing Precedents A History of Women Artists. Here is the syllabus for the course on women artists she taught in 1974.
In Kate Millett’s papers at Duke, I find an early copy of Schneemann’s xerox artist’s book Cezanne, She was A Great Painter, in which , rather than giving up her first artistic role model, Schneemann reimagines him as female.
I wonder if Schneemann and Millett ever met? They were both members of Fluxus. The extraordinary work Correspondence Course: An Epistolary History of Carolee Schneemann and Her Circles includes a letter to Millett. Schneemann’s edited correspondence is a treasure precisely because it provides insights into the circles that connected artists, in ways that authors often acknowledge int heir published works, but that are far harder to track, outside of (incomplete) archives for the artists.