Jane Rendell wrote in 2000: “…[A]rchitecture takes inspiration from other spatial arts. Architects can learn possible tactics and strategies from the work of feminists in dance, film, art and writing, as well as those artists operating in the public spaces of the city, for example, Niki de Saint Phalle, Maya Lin and Suzanne Lacy.”
I want to add “should” in Jane’s written statement above. Jane’s 2006 book, Art and Architecture: A Place Between, offers so many ideas for the design professions, building on her previous work.
Together with UCLA, the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), founded by Judy Baca in Los Angeles 28 years back, runs the only lab that creates community-based digitally-generated public art for murals, the Cesar Chavez Digital/Mural Lab. SPARC also works with folks to create banners, websites, performances, video and public monuments.
“The Great Wall of Los Angeles” is pictured above. Started by Judy with local teens in 1976, and added to for the next 25 years, it is now in need of restoration. SPARC also has published a lot about muralism and has archives related to mural creation, so it is a great resource.
Not too long ago the women who have been working long and hard on a history of the Los Angeles Woman’s Building put it on the Web. What a gift to all of us to have this e-book! Lucy Lippard wrote the Foreward, Terry Wolverton, one of the editors, wrote the Introduction. Then there are essays by Sondra Hale, the other editor, Laura Meyer, Betty Ann Brown, Michelle Moravec, Jennie Klein, Sheila de Bretteville and Bia Lowe, and on and on. Cecilia Dougherty wrote a useful piece on early video art, and Terry Wolverton edited an interview with Arlene Raven, who succumbed to cancer in August of 2006. The essay by Michelle Moravec and Sondra Hale begins to explore the efforts to involve women of color in the Woman’s Building. This book is also a resource for the images that they’ve imported from the digital image archive at Otis Art Institute. This is linked from the Woman’s Building site. There’s a lot of interest now from us aging feminists in telling many of these stories and this is one important collection.
Of course, on the other coast, there is Rutger’s Women Artists Archive National Directory (WAAND), which is busily documenting U.S. archival collections of primary source materials by and about women visual artists active in the U.S. since 1945. There is also a show opening at the Bronx Museum of the Arts next month, “Making It Together: Women’s Collaborative Art and Community.”
What a year 2007-08 has been for women in the arts, with WACK! on the west coast and “Global Feminisms” on the East Coast. I shouldn’t leave out “Claiming Space: Some American Feminist Organizers” that Mary Garrard and Norma Broude curated. I didn’t get to see it, though.
Through the Communication Initiative I learned of Peace X Peace, “pronounced peace by peace.” They are DC-based and provide a “global network [to] connect individuals and circles of women everywhere in the world, through the Internet, for spirited conversation and mutual support.” It looks like they primarily use video, radio and email to develop women’s leadership skills. On their website they have a preview of a film they’ve made that followed women leaders in Argentina, Afghanistan, Burundi and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Patricia Smith Melton founded Peace X Peace with her husband, Bill Melton, who is a businessman with Global Internet Ventures and was part of America Online.
And, just to contemplate how deep a hole we are in, take a look at this hilarious video about the Bush Administration’s misdeeds: http://blip.tv/file/520347
Take Back the Tech is a campaign that started November 25 and ends December 10, which also happens to be Jane Addams Day. This is an effort to ask how to use information technologies to help prevent violence against women. But they also challenge ways that abusers use information technology–to track a woman, to harass someone online, and to post porn. The group behind this campaign, the Association of Progressive Communications, Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP), “is a global network of more than 175 women in over 55 countries promoting gender equality in the design, implementation, access and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and in the policy decisions and frameworks that regulate them.” There are interactive options on the site–like making a postcard or uploading a digital story–that invite people to share their own experiences. Betty’s story, the brief video available for viewing, is about her torture and abuse in Uganda as a teenager and the healing that she found afterwards.
Andrea Smith, an organizer of INCITE! Women of Color against Violence, did a post-doc at UIUC a couple of years ago. Someone introduced her as a scholar-activist and she began by discounting that label. She said, we don’t say florist-activist or dentist-activist, why do we say scholar-activist? What about scholarship necessitates adding the noun activist if one is engaged in social justice work, for example? What was clear is that activism among scholars is rare enough that people find it remarkable.
INCITE! has a relatively new compilation, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, about the US non-profit sector, the “non-profit industrial complex.” Andrea Smith has an essay in it as does Ruth Gilmore.