The Power of Feminist Art pages 10-31 and 130-139

Sarah Rose

I believe that the quote, “From the early 1970s, feminist artists understood their task to be, in the words of Lisa Tickner, ‘the de-colonizing of the female body,’ reclaiming it from masculine objectification,” (22) is a very complex sentence that could mean numerous different things, based on what is presented in the text. To me this statement is explaining how female artists are trying to be true to themselves and no longer try to mold to the standards set for them by males. “Artists such as Faith Ringgold, Adrian Piper, and Eleanor Antin sought to reclaim women’s bodies from the societal straitjacket of sex-objecthood trough semiplayful exploitation of dieting and fasting, ways in which social expectations literally shaped the female body,” (22). They as women are tired of being viewed as objects or even in a particular role, such as housewife. They wanted to show women have ideas and opinions and they have more use then just being pretty and they did this through performances, paintings, and many different types of art. As quoted by Judy Chicago, “the agenda for women artists was ‘to transform our circumstances into our subject matter… to use them to reveal the whole nature of the human condition,’” (22).  Feminists artists claim that the “personal is political,” in many ways. I believe the women realized that issues they were having in their personal lives were issues many women experienced and so it became a societal or political problem, “…As if only by exploring the shared, collective ‘circumstances’ of women could individual women come to understand themselves as human beings,” (22).  I believe that the quote above could have been used to describe the struggle African American artist’s face. They too have been, and are still, trying to break out of a view society has on them. They wanted to become independent from any stereotypes put on them by society.

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3 Responses to The Power of Feminist Art pages 10-31 and 130-139

  1. Lacey DeAngelis says:

    The 1970s lead the path for many feminist artists to “de-colonize the female body, and to reclaim it from masculine objectification.” (p.22) This statement meaning that women of the 1970s were trying to put issues dealing with how woman are perceived in society on the table for everybody to see and notice. This group of feminist artists wanted to disprove the images and expectations that society had for women’s bodies, showing that women aren’t only sex symbols, but a major role within society, not matter what gender they are. In the beginning of the chapter, it states that “gender is socially and naturally constructed”. (p.10) Since gender is socially constructed, women of the feminist period were trying to show how society depicts women and through feminist artworks and they showed how women should be depicted. For example, Carolee Schneemann demonstrated how feminist artists were de-colonizing and reclaiming the role of the female body. Schneemann’s, “memorable Interior Scroll performance, attempted the metaphoric transformation of the female body from passive object to speaking agent.” When I was in New York I saw a picture of this performance, along with other feminist artworks by Schneemann.
    Like Sarah mentioned, African Americans have been trying to change the way society’s views and stereotypes them. This has been an ongoing struggle even before the Feminist art movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s for African Americans. African American female artist Faith Ringgold is an example of how African American artists could use the phrase “de-colonizing the female body.” (p.22) She was an artist in the late sixties that fought racism and sexism. Many of her artworks depict the major roles woman have had in history and play in everyday society. She shows off the women’s curved bodies, but also portrays them as women of power or in charge.
    On page 12, of the text The Power of Feminist Art states that feminist and art were not always joined, and many political feminist from the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and even the nineteenth century did not always agreed with the feminist artists. It wasn’t until the 1970s Feminist Art movement, when feminism and art would join, making the slogan “the personal is political.”(p.12) I believe that again Faith Ringgold, along with many other feminist artists like Tomie Arai and Judy Chicago, address how personal experiences can address political issues of the female role in society. Faith Ringgold addresses the issue of being an African American woman artist and the stereotypes she or her female ancestors have gone through.

  2. Jayme Walker

    I agree with what Sara and Lacy have said about what Lisa Tickner’s statement, “From the early 1970s, feminist artists understood their task to be, in the words of Lisa Tickner, ‘the de-colonizing of the female body,’ reclaiming it from masculine objectification” (22). I believe that she is suggesting that female artists are attempting to break free of the standards set by men, as well as by society as a whole. This group of feminist artists worked to prove society’s preconceived image and stereotype of women wrong. More specifically, as Lacy also points out, women wanted to prove that women are not only sex symbols and that they have a much broader purpose and role within society, even despite their gender. This phrase can be transferred to African American artists, because much like feminine artists, they are attempting to break free of the standards set by society. African American’s face a lot of the same issues when dealing with society, such as stereotypes. By saying, “personal is political,” feminist artists are able to use their own personal experiences to tackle the political problems at hand, most specially, the female’s role in society. The idea of “personal is political” can be transferred and used to represent any marginalized or oppressed group.

    As I read, I continuously found myself connecting both phrases to just about every artist or group of artists we have learned about so far, which I feel is pretty powerful. As I put myself in each artist’s shoes, I continuously find myself making connections between each artist and their work. The passion that each artist has, especially the passion that feminist artists have in terms of breaking free of society’s preconceived views and stereotypes is inspiring, as well as eye opening to me. I also find it interesting how art and history go hand in hand, both with feminist artists and artwork, as well as African Americans.

  3. Austin Smith says:

    Woman certainly had a “role” to play that was put on them from the time they started crawling until the day they died. It is certainly very difficult for one to understand what it must be like to be oppressed in the settle ways that woman were, but as a male it is even more difficult. Also I would like to mention that it is not only woman who have to serve or play in a role, but men also. Men are expected to be the bread winners, to work and to support their family. If a man were to want to stay at home and take care of the kids they would certainly be looked down on, more so than women. I think this puts an interesting twist in the eyes of a feminist. I believe this even applies in todays society and I do not feel like it will ever be broken or at least in my life time. The symbolism a womans body represents was definitely a sign of oppression for woman artists. I believe woman bodies were more typically used in art because men enjoyed this more so than looking at a naked man. I believe it is shameful for them, but I am happy that the tables are being turned and rightful woman artists are being recognized for the great work they have done.

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