Woman’s Building PeopleFaces & Voices

A quote from Judy Chicago, one of the founders
of the 1973 Woman’s Building:
“One day, while we were working in Womanhouse,
one of the women in the Feminist Program returned from a thrift
shop expedition carrying an old book. It was an out-of-print edition
about something called Woman’s
Building , which none of us had ever heard about. Opening the
faded, gold-trimmed volume, we excitedly discovered that there
had been a building in the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition at
Chicago, designed by a woman architect, established and run by
a Board of Lady Managers, filled with work by women around the
world, including a large mural by ‘our’ Mary Cassatt, as she was
referred to by the proud women who organized the building and
commissioned her mural. As we examined the book I was struck by
the quality of consciousness evidenced by the women involved in
the building and by the fact that they had apparently unearthed
a good deal of historical material about women artists.”
– From: Through the Flower: My Struggle as a
Woman Artist by Judy Chicago. (Doubleday 1973, p. 150.)
Poster design by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville for
Women in Design conference, 1975.
A quote about Sheila de Bretteville, one of the founders of the
1973 Woman’s Building:
“Saying strength without a fist, the eyebolt is
increasingly familiar to us as we begin to work more and more
in non-traditional professions and build our own space. This necklace
was originally designed by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville. Sheila
made the first one for her colleagues, Arlene Raven and Judy Chicago
when they started the Feminist Studio Workshop in 1972. Since
that time, she has given them to other women with whom she shares
a vision of the creation of women’s culture. Members of the Feminist
Studio Workshop of 1978-79 have made these necklaces (in an edition
of 500) in celebration of the 5th anniversary of the Woman’s Building
in Los Angeles. The context in which we are making and sharing
these necklaces gives them (and the common hardware from which
they are made) added history, meaning, and symbolic content, while
honoring things of beauty and use that are readily available to
us all. As we build our culture, let us wear these as a symbol
for ourselves and a signal to each other.” -From
the package of the necklace.
A quote by Arlene Raven, one of the founders
of the 1973 Woman’s Building:
“As an act against the historical erasure of women’s
art and an acknowledgment of the heritage we were beginning to
recover, Judy Chicago, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville and I named
the public center for women’s culture we envisioned and would
open on November 28, 1973, the Woman’s Building. For several years
there had been protests over the unfair exclusion of women’s art
from exposure in Los Angeles museums and the art press. In 1970,
when no woman was asked to participate in the Art and Technology show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Los Angeles
Council of Women Artists demonstrated against the museum. June
Wayne’s Tamarind Workshop conducted a survey of press coverage
of women’s exhibitions; they received little coverage, and what
did exist was often derisive. Wayne’s Joan of Art Workshops taught
women artists the mechanics of making a professional presentation
of their work to galleries and explored the business aspect of
being an artist. Womanspace gallery opened in 1972 to give women’s
art more exposure. When the Woman’s Building opened the next year,
Womanspace had joined other galleries, groups, women’s businesses,
and feminist professionals in taking space in a large modern-style
building in downtown Los Angeles.”
– From At Home exhibition catalog.