Rutgers Establishes Institute for Women and Art; Scholarly focus underscores growing impact of women artists

Rutgers Establishes Institute for Women and Art; Scholarly focus underscores growing impact of women artists

New Brunswick, N.J. Rutgers strengths and groundbreaking initiatives that have helped feed the explosion of women in the art world are the foundation of the newly created Institute for Women and Art. The institute is dedicated to advancing recognition of the intellectual and aesthetic contributions of women to art through the collaborative efforts of faculty, curators, researchers and artists.

Announced last spring by Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick in his proposal to transform undergraduate education, the institute enhances Rutgers commitment to a multi- disciplinary approach to research, education and service in women and gender studies. It reports to the Office of the Associate Vice President for Academic and Public Partnerships in the Arts and Humanities, and has been welcomed as the seventh member of the Institute for Womens Leadership, a consortium of teaching, research and public service units dedicated to advancing womens leadership in all arenas of public life.

By promoting the work of women artists, the institute gives us the opportunity to hear important voices that have not been part of the mainstream art world in the past, said Isabel Nazario, associate vice president for academic and public partnerships in the arts and humanities. The institute is an important part of our mission to infuse the university and beyond with diverse views that strengthen dialogue across differences.

The institute is led by co-directors Judith K. Brodsky, professor emerita of art, and Ferris Olin, head of the Margery Somers Foster Center of the Rutgers University Libraries. Brodsky also founded the Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper, recently renamed the Brodsky Center in her honor. Both were honored this month by the College Art Association at its annual conference for their contributions to the womens movement in art.

The establishment of the institute in an academic setting acknowledges the growing importance of women in the visual arts, particularly since the 1970s, when feminist artists and art historians began introducing bold new concepts that have shaped contemporary art practice.

The Institute for Women and Art will be the umbrella for several new and existing projects and initiatives:

The Feminist Art Project: This is a national collaborative initiative celebrating the Feminist Art Movement and its influence on todays art history and art practice. It came from an idea developed by the artist Judy Chicago, Susan Fisher Sterling of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the late feminist critic Arlene Raven. They joined forces with Brodsky and Olin who then implemented The Feminist Art Project under the umbrella of the institute. Last year, the project mounted the inaugural exhibition of a multiyear, nationwide series of events titled, How American Women Artists Invented Postmodernism, 1970-1975, at the Mason Gross Galleries (the exhibition is now traveling throughout New Jersey). The projects Web site is http://feministartproject.rutgers.edu.

Women Artists Archives National Directory (WAAND): A visionary project to ensure that contemporary women artists are not erased from history, WAAND was conceived of by Brodsky and Olin three years ago and developed through funds they received from the Getty Foundation in its first ever grant to Rutgers, WAAND was launched this month. Its debut took place at the College Art Association Annual Conference. WAAND uses groundbreaking technology created for this project by the Rutgers University Libraries. It makes available an online database of archives holding the papers of women artists and the records of womens art publications, organizations and communities active in the US since World War II. It can be found at
http://waand.rutgers.edu

The Miriam Schapiro Archives for Women Artists: Housed at the Rutgers University Libaries, the archives were established to collect the records of womens art organizations and papers of women artists. It contains the key records of the Feminist Art Movement, among them the archives of the Womens Caucus for Art, Heresies Collective, and New York Feminist Art Institute and personal papers of artists like Faith Ringgold.

The Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series: Founded more than 35 years ago by the internationally renowned Douglass College and Rutgers graduate Joan Snyder, this exhibition series has mounted a series of annual shows and public lectures at the Mabel Smith Douglass Library that make visible the work of emerging and established contemporary women artists. Many of the most important artists of the Feminist Art Movement had their first solo shows through the series.

The institute supports projects by Rutgers scholars on all three main campuses with funding and outreach. These include the publication of the Womans Art Journal, now edited by Joan Marter, professor of art history, along with exhibitions and events related to women artists on the Camden, New Brunswick and Newark campuses.

The institute is presently working on developing undergraduate and graduate curriculum projects on women in the visual arts as well as developing research plans.

Funding for the institute has been provided by a two-year, $60,000 grant from the universitys Academic Excellence Fund as well as $30,000 in seed funding from the Office of the Associate Vice President for Academic and Public Partnerships in the Arts and Humanities, which will continue to provide some annual base support. Activities of the Institute are also supported through a three-year General Program Support grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to the Rutgers Libraries. Furthermore, the Institute has received $130,000 from the Maria and Henry Leon Memorial Fund.

Contact: Sandra Lanman
732-932-7084, ext. 621
E-mail: slanman@ur.rutgers.edu