Reclaiming the Female Body: Feminist Art In America- Elsie

The movie Reclaiming the Female Body: Feminist Art In America captured the excitement and innovation of the Feminist Art movement in a way that slides and texts books could never do. I have always had an interest in the Feminist Art movement (and really Feminism in general) and a lot of my personal work draws on the feminist agenda, so I found this movie both interesting and inspiring.

I think that Reclaiming the Female Body: Feminist Art In America showed an interesting element of the feminist perspective regarding the power, the privilege, of voice. By this I mean the women of the Feminist art movement were not only reclaiming the female body, but they were claiming for the first time their own power of opinion. Maybe their opinions were alternative, unwelcome, unconventional, and difficult for a sexist society to receive, but they were voiced opinions none the less. One artist said, “If we don’t hold ourselves up and give us that sort of grandeur and frame ourselves like that, nobody else is going to do it for us.” It seems to me that the Feminist art movement was a time where women began to collectively realize that though their voices may not have been as loud as those of men, but they still had voices. It seems that all of this is about women recognizing and accepting their own value and breaking out of the system where men came first, and finally sayings I matter, my perspective matters, my voice matters. Featured french artist of the feminist movement in the movie said, “I’m going to be interested in myself as little as I am.” This phrase perfectly captures the realization of the movement that despite their lack of societally instilled power, a voice and opinion no matter how ‘small’ is valuable and needs to be heard.

Rachel Lachowitz’s sculpture titled Sarah, a highlighted piece in this film, connects to our previous studies as it is a mockery of Richard Serra’s House of Cards. Lachowitz imitated Serra’s sculpture but instead of using slabs of steel, she used slabs of lipstick. Like Serra’s work, the slabs were all meticulously and precariously balanced together. Elements that are interesting to note include the nature of the medium. Lipstick is fragile in comparison to steel, highlighting the stereotypical differences between men and women in society at the time. Lachowitz commented on her work saying, “if it fell over it would more damage itself than anyone else,” and though this comment was meant in the literal sense, it also reflects the fragility, not of women as a group, but of women’s reputations: how high the standards are for a woman to be perfect and how easily damaged that is, only by oneself.

Overall, I found this movie to be inspiring, especially in our current political state where it can feel like we are taking steps backwards at times. The excitement of all the women artists gathered around the meeting table definitely evoked a sense of pride within me.

“Ebb and Flow” Maya Lin- Elsie Campbell

This week Maya Lin, renowned contemporary installation artist, opened a new exhibit at the Pace Gallery titled Ebb and Flow. This exhibit explores the beauty and power of water, an element Maya Lin has shown a fascination with throughout her career. I thought this article was appropriate based on our readings regarding Earth art and contemporary works and, as noted in the interview, because of the current state of record rainfall and hurricane devastation.
The exhibit is an 11 piece project, including both installations and sculptures. Lin uses recycled silver, glass, marbles, steel pins, and marble. The exhibit explores the different elemental phases of water and natural properties. She transforms scientific data findings into visual art.
In the interview, Maya Lin touches on a few main points. Firstly, that this exhibit demonstrates that nature, that water, will continue to change and move with or without human interference. Simultaneously, the focus on the natural, ‘slow time’ magnifies the drastic effect humans have had on the environment. Lin is attracted to ambivalence, the possibility of showing both the stability of natural movement and the instability of climate change. Additionally, Lin strives to remove the drama and fanfare to focus on the bare scientific facts, which to her speak the greatest volumes.
I think this exhibit is interesting because of Lin’s understated way of expressing concrete facts, the scientific findings about terrain or environmental changes, in a relatively small space. I agree that her almost mellow, subtle renditions of water and ice have an intriguing, melancholic property that tosses aside the grandeur and drama of floods and glacial melt, and focuses on bare change itself.
Link to the exhibit:
Link to the interview:

Paragraphs on Conceptual Art (1967) Sol Lewitt by Elsie Campbell

In his Paragraph’s on Conceptual Art Sol Lewitt explains, in his own view, the definition of conceptual art; he outlines the guidelines in form, purpose, and artistic language that he sees as necessary to the product. Lewis explains conceptual art as art where the idea of concept is the most important aspect in the product. The artist must formulate their conceptual idea before creating the physical art. All planning and decisions regarding communication of the idea are made before hand as to free the work from capricious subjectivity or divergence from intention. Ideally, Lewitt describes, conceptual art is not an exploration in psychology or philosophy or emotion, but rather a singular communication of a concept.

I found it interesting that Lewitt said, “it doesn’t really matter if the viewer understands the concepts of the artist by seeing the art” because it seems to contract the entire point of conceptual art. If the point of conceptual art is to convey one point, wouldn’t it be important for the viewers to be able to understand that? This slight contradiction was interesting especially because he emphasized that successful conceptual art should be extremely simple, which made it seem like it would make conceptual art geared towards direction communication of attention and accessibility to viewers.

I think it is important to note that Sol Lewitt did say at the end of the paragraphs that “these ideas are the result of my work as an artist and are subject to change as my experience changes.” This acknowledges the subjectivity and fluidity of art and also shows Lewitt’s awareness of the limitations on his views.