UNL Womanhouse presents: The House that Feminism Built

December 12, 2011

January/February 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the ground-breaking Feminist Art Program installation Womanhouse. Since April 2011, a group of students (grad and undergrad) at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, as well as UNL alumns from Art and Art History and UNL faculty (myself and Wendy Weiss, Professor of Textiles, Clothing, and Design), have been engaged in a project to both honor and investigate the legacy and impact of the original Womanhouse project. Our exhibition, The House that Feminism Built, will be on view at Parallax Space from February 3 – March 31, 2012.

What is UNL Womanhouse?
We are a group of artists, art historians, and activists coming together to proclaim our status as feminists and address the state of feminist politics and artistic practice today.
Why Womanhouse?
The “Womanhouse” title refers to the project of the same name by the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of Arts in 1971-72. Led by artists Miriam Shapiro and Judy Chicago, the program took over an empty abandoned house and re-worked it room by room into an installation of feminist artistic expression. Womanhouse was created in a consciousness-raising era, when women’s “place” in the home was being questioned. The artists provocatively presented responses to that tight gender roles and discriminations. In addition to tackling gender roles, they also brought women’s and feminist issues into the foray of artistic production. As 2012 is the fortieth anniversary of Womanhouse, we are addressing how feminist politics drives artistic creation and vice versa, then and today.
What does it mean to be a feminist today?
We’re trying to find that out ourselves. We have found the word feminism to be problematic and full of unintended, negative meaning. We think feminism means working to dismantle gender, race, sex and class restrictions for everyone. To us, this seems like a good, challenging idea and especially necessary for the art world. By organizing we have begun a conversation that is often pushed aside. We have found that feminism asks questions that are sometimes uncomfortable and attractive to dismiss. But we feel by talking, creating, reading, looking and listening we can open a feminist dialogue meant for progress.
And this is where you come in!
UNL Womanhouse will be presenting ongoing projects in February and March at Parallax Space (1746 N Street in Lincoln) and the Rotunda Gallery (UNL city campus Union). Our calendar includes interactive installations, performances, dinners, publications, discussions, films and various outreach programs. We want everyone to be part of the conversation!


5 Responses to “UNL Womanhouse presents: The House that Feminism Built”

  1. Check out the facebook page some of my students from Carnegie Mellon set up – https://www.facebook.com/groups/267689326602213/

  2. Their page is called Fourth Wave Feminism: Cult Feminist Cult

  3. Mira Schor said

    Good luck with your project and remember that the fact that you find “the word feminism to be problematic and full of unintended, negative meaning” is a product of a generation long backlash against feminism in the culture at large. There is alas still much to be challenged in how women are treated and how they themselves think of their place in the world. “To dismantle gender, race, sex and class restrictions for everyone” one always has to start within one’s own heart and mind.,
    Very best regards and thanks for taking the spirit of womanhouse forward into your lives.

  4. I want to join Mira Schor–my friend, colleague, and collaborator since we met as graduate students in the Feminist Art Program at CalArts, and worked together in Womanhouse–in congratulating you on your project, and in encouraging you to welcome differences of all kinds. I hope that you can find your own creative, productive ways of furthering the work of feminism in all ways in our culture and politics. It is sorely needed now as then. Feminism is a philosophy and a practice that continually challenges us as times change. In solidarity, and yes, in sisterhood, Faith Widling

  5. Thank you all! Hilary, the Fourth-Wave facebook group is great, thanks for the shout-out you gave us.

    We watched the Womanhouse documentary for the second time last evening and it was fun to compare our group meetings to yours in 1972. More similar than you’d think four decades later!

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