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Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd, South
Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
(239) 590-1000 or (800) 590-3428

KATE CALLAHAN

WOMAN-MADE: A WOMAN’S CULTURE OF ART IN PRINT

Senior Project FALL 2017

The feminist art movement of the 1970s made a lasting impact on contemporary American art, and much of this influence can be attributed to a national network developed at the grassroots level. Feminist activism was based in part on methods of the New Left, and fostered through newsletters, journals, and magazines. Artists and art workers translated their political views into a critical approach to art world institutions, realized through collectives, protests, women’s spaces, and an alternative press. This study focuses on publications spearheaded by Kirsten Grimstad and Susan Rennie: The New Woman’s Survival Catalog, The New Woman’s Survival Sourcebook, and the magazine Chrysalis, a collaborative effort with the staff of the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles. Chrysalis offered a vision for a woman’s culture based on diversity, and would “combine the practical with the analytical, theoretical, visionary.” The magazine integrated Grimstad and Rennie’s resource guides with art, poetry, and scholarly essays, reflecting the interdisciplinary activities of the Woman’s Building. Chrysalis, and other publications like Heresies and The Feminist Art Journal, functioned as informational outlets and spaces of reflection, sustaining a dialogue between feminist artists on the East and West coasts.


Those involved in the feminist art movement encouraged collaborative artistic practice, organization, and publication. Their activism entailed multidisciplinary activity in exhibiting, curating, and publishing, documenting a movement that spanned the United States and beyond. Feminist theory was successfully communicated across a network of
women with assistance from printed materials, often self-published and independently distributed. This successful grassroots organizing, and the feminist movement’s emphasis on non-hierarchical collectivity, should be examined and applied in today's political climate.


My research was supported by resources at Florida Gulf Coast University’s Library, including the UBorrow and Interlibrary Loan services, which allowed access to many texts not available locally. I relied on primary source documents as the basis of my study. These documents included ten issues of Chrysalis magazine, The New Woman’s Survival Catalog, and The New Woman’s Survival Sourcebook, along with issues of Spinning Off and Heresies. The Independent Voices database, a digital archive of the alternative press, provided access to complete catalogs of feminist art publications including Heresies, The Feminist Art Journal, Women and Art, and Women Artists Newsletter. Reproductions of Womanspace were obtained through ONE Archives, a collection of LGBTQ materials, at the University of Southern California Libraries. Photographs and other materials were sourced through the Woman’s Building Image Archives maintained by Otis College.