Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Feminist Art Foremother

This Sunday, sixty-one years after the first atomic weapon was used in war, Arlene Raven died. I didn't know her, but I know her work. Anyone interested in feminist art over the past thirty years knows her work. It is amazing to look at how her work transformed the world--and the way that this obituary from the New York Times is written.

This post is to acknowledge the work that she did. I, for one, appreciate it each day.

August 6, 2006

Arlene Raven, 62, a Historian and Supporter of Women’s Art, Is Dead
Arlene Raven, a pioneering historian and advocate of women’s art, died Tuesday at her home in Brooklyn. She was 62.
The cause was cancer, said the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, which represents her companion, the artist Nancy Grossman.
In 1973 Ms. Raven was a founder, with the artist Judy Chicago and the graphic designer Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, of the Feminist Studio Workshop. It was the educational component of the Woman’s Building, a pioneering center devoted to women’s art and culture in Los Angeles.
In the workshop she introduced programs based not just on techniques for making art, but on feminist consciousness-raising as well. She was a creator and editor of Chrysalis, an influential magazine of women’s culture, and in 1977 she initiated the Lesbian Art Project, in which she took part as a performer. She was also a founder of the Women’s Caucus for Art.
Ms. Raven wrote or edited nine books, including the important anthology “Feminist Art Criticism” (1988), with Cassandra L. Langer and Joanna Frueh as co-editors; a follow-up volume appeared in 1994, with Ms. Raven’s essay, “The Archaic Smile,” a memoir of the women’s art movement. She also wrote monographs on the artists June Wayne, Betye Saar, Michele Oka Doner, and Ms. Grossman. She and Ms. Grossman became life partners in 1983.
She published widely as a critic and essayist. During the mid-1980’s, she was chief art critic for The Village Voice. She was a contributing editor for On the Issues: The Progressive Woman’s Quarterly, and a member of its advisory board. She was also on the board of the United States chapter of the International Association of Art Critics, and she received the Frank Jewett Mather Award for distinction in art criticism from the College Art Association in 2001.
Ms. Raven held a doctorate in art history from John Hopkins University. Beginning in 2000, she was critic in residence at the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, which has established an art history scholarship in her name.
She is survived by Ms. Grossman; her parents, Joe and Annette Rubin of Marco Island, Fla.; a sister, Phyllis Gelman, of Albuquerque, N.M.; and a stepdaughter, Laura Corkery, of Larkspur, Ga.

1 comment:

Lulu said...

Definitely a sad loss to the feminist art community, for critics and artists alike. Her work was innovative and help to challenge stereotypical perceptions of women's art-making practice.