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Remembering Miriam Schapiro (1923–2015)

Pioneering feminist artist Miriam Schapiro died in June, age 91. Her work appeared on the cover of Lilith’s Summer 1997 issue and elsewhere in the magazine.55-1997-summer_small-270x379

With Judy Chicago , Miriam Schapiro founded the Feminist Arts Program at CalArts in 1971. There they created the iconic installation “Womanhouse,” described in the artist’s artnet.com obituary as “an art installation project where Chicago, Schapiro, and students such as Mira Schor and Faith Wilding, among others, transformed an abandoned 17-room house into a feminist art environment, complete with Chicago’s pristine white ‘menstruation bathroom,’ with double-wrapped feminine hygiene products on display.” 

Her collages using elements of traditional women’s textile arts—lace, sequins, knitting—she named “femmages.” Her computer-generated painting, OX (1968, below), is notable, says artnet, “for its embrace of vaginal imagery and focus on the body,” which became a hallmark of the work of other feminist artists. 

Artist Mira Schor, at hyperallergenic.com, eulogized Schapiro.

“Her death brings up enormous issues about feminism, legacy, and about the role an artist plays in how she enters a history she helped to create  even the idea that such a history could and should exist, one that included the voices and images of women.”

© 2011 Lilith Magazine