On Thursday, I attended one of the events commemorating the Fresno Feminist Art Movement. In 1970, Judy Chicago, whose collaborative work "The Dinner Party" is one of the most important feminist art pieces, taught for a year at what was then Fresno State College. 15 students studied art in a collaborative setting, resisting the "genius who works alone" model that is such a prevalent practice in art. Many of these students followed Chicago to Cal Arts to continue their studies . . . and many have made their career in art.
The first presentation I attended was by Vanalyne Green. Green's current project focuses on "provisional moments of utopia"--she has interviewed the chaplains for both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate . . . and she has interviewed people about which days' prayers they would like to read. She also went to a cemetery in Chicago where different Wobblies and activists are buried under strident and still confrontational gravestones. It was a fascinating presentation.
Nancy Youdelman began as a costume designer and has continued to create art using dresses. Especially interesting was her work incorporating letters written by 30 different women to one man, Allen Watkins. Youdelman talked about how they share a narrative arc: love, insecurity about why the man hasn't responded, and finally anger. I love that she uses materials bought on e-Bay in her work. Youdelman also showed pictures and told stories about "A Studio of Their Own," the Fresno State studio where she worked with Judy Chicago.
Both these women made me think about artistic production--using non-traditional forms and materials to produce thoughtful responses to the world. I love what YouTube has done to expose the work that even amateurs do to pay homage to or even parody the contemporary world. I love the use of found objects in all kinds of artistic production. I love texts that experiment with how to tell a story. I love that all kinds of creativity have expression right now.
Make it new!