The Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives own a special collection of women artist files compiled by renowned art historian and founder/editor of Feminist Art Journal Cindy Nemser. These files are filled with ephemeral treasures that document the history of women’s involvement in modern art and the feminist movement of the 20th century. While flipping through the files, I was delighted to find a copy of Womanhouse, a publication documenting the ambitious project launched by members of the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts in 1971.
Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro served as Co-Directors of the program which sought to “help women restructure their personalities to be more consistent with their desires to be artists and to help them build their artmaking out of their experiences as women.” Members of the Feminist Art program refurbished an old house in a run-down section of Hollywood in order to fulfill the “dreams and fantasies they envisioned for what would be an exclusively female environment.” Each room was transformed into an hyperbole of the traditionally female experience of home-making, bringing to light the daydreams these women had while performing monotonous and time-consuming “female” tasks. Filled with images, poetry, and artists’ statements, this catalog is a valuable resource for the documentation of Womanhouse as well as a window into the vibrant feminist movement occurring at CalArts in the 1960s and 70s. There are many more feminist treasures tucked away in Nemser’s files, just waiting to be discovered!