Film in class: Women, Art, Revolution [Lynn Hershman, 2011]

by chunte4

Before “Women, Art, Revolution,” the only knowledge I had of the seventies feminist art wave came from plates of work by artists such as Judy Chicago and Ana Mendieta, as well as brief mentions of the movement in my art history classes. I had never taken an extensive look at this particular element of the second wave feminist movement until now. After watching the film I wish I had looked more deeply into the movement earlier, as it has put so much of modern day work by women artists into context. The artists I am familiar with: women like Kara Walker who creates explicit, disturbing paper cutouts depicting plantation life in the pre-Civil War South, or Catherine Opie who explores gender identity on her own body by carving scenes reflective of her relationships and gender expression into her skin, probably would not be the established artists they are today had it not been for the women in the film. The very foundations of feminist art and the beginnings of an interweaving of feminist and racial commentary in various mediums began to happen within this movement, so, watching the process by which these women found their own art identity and clashed with the patriarchal boundaries that often barred them from getting even a basic level of support for their work was both a fascinating and emotionally exhausting experience. Overall however, the film left me with a sense of pride in their perseverance and an affirmation of belief that socially transgressive women such as these should feature more prominently in Contemporary art history texts as well as classroom discussion of art during this period. They revolutionized the very idea of art, so I believe the means by which we learn about art must undergo a revolution as well in the classroom and everywhere else.