!W.A.R.: Voices of a Movement

The artists’ and critics’ interviews presented here chronicle the founding years of the feminist art movement in the 1970s. While focusing on the events of that decade and the following, these narratives also discuss the impact of the civil rights, anti-war, and women’s rights movements. Created by artist and filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson over the last two decades (1990-2008) as she developed her groundbreaking documentary, !Women Art Revolution, this archive provides the first-person histories of the pioneering individuals who challenged the ways in which women were considered by the reigning art establishment. Available from this site are the videos, transcripts, and biographies on the interviewees as well as links to the Women Art Revolution collection finding aid, information on the documentary !Women Art Revolution, and other feminist studies resources.

About the Collection

Stanford University Libraries acquired the !W.A.R. collection in 2008 with the intention of making the interviews and texts available online, and is honored to bring this material to the public’s attention. This website also fulfills the expressed wish of the filmmaker, Lynn Hershman Leeson, that these stories be shared with as wide an audience as possible.

The interviewees include an excellent representative sampling of the key founding members of the feminist art movement in the United States. In 1971 Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro founded the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts, the first feminist art program in the U.S. In 1977 two key feminist art journals were established, Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics and Chrysalis. Several of the founding members of these journals are among the interviewees: Mary Beth Edelson, Harmony Hammond, Joyce Kozloff, Miriam Schapiro, and Sheila de Bretteville. Moira Roth, another interviewee, edited The Amazing Decade: Women and Performance Arts in America, 1970-1980 (1983), one of the first critical analyses of feminist performance art. While most of the individuals in the collection have long been central figures in American contemporary art, the collection also includes younger artists, such as Miranda July, as well as various members of the Guerrilla Girls.

Related Collections

  • The Lynn Hershman-Leeson papers, 1966-2003 (M1452) - a collection containing approximately 200 linear feet of materials documenting the life's work of the artist, including early drawings, performances, films and interactive works
  • Life Squared - an archival collection collaboration between Hershman and Stanford in Second Life

About the Film

For over forty years, Director Lynn Hershman Leeson has collected hundreds of hours of interviews with visionary artists, historians, curators and critics who shaped the beliefs and values of the Feminist Art Movement and reveal previously undocumented strategies used to politicize female artists and integrate women into art structures.

She has woven this material with archival footage into !Women Art Revolution, a feature-length documentary film that elaborates the relationship of the Feminist Art Movement to the 1960s anti-war and civil rights movements and explains how historical events, such as the all-male protest exhibition against the invasion of Cambodia, sparked the first of many feminist actions against major cultural institutions. The film details major developments in women’s art of the 1970s, including the first feminist art education programs, political organizations and protests, alternative art spaces such as the A.I.R. Gallery and Franklin Furnace in New York and the Los Angeles Women’s Building, publications such as Chrysalis and Heresies, and landmark exhibitions, performances, and installations of public art that changed the entire direction of art.

More about the film -- which received two standing ovations at its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010 – is available at www.womenartrevolution.com.

Access and Permissions

The bibliographic citation for this collection is: Women Art Revolution : videotape interviews by Lynn Hershman-Leeson for film, 1990-2008 (M1639).

Original materials in the collection are housed permanently in the Stanford Department of Special Collections and University Archives. To obtain a copy of the materials found on this site, please send the name of the person interviewed and the collection call number (M1639) to speccollref@stanford.edu. Copies of the interviews may not be reproduced or used for any purpose without permission from the copyright holder and the owning library. For permission requests, please contact the Public Services Librarian at speccollref@stanford.edu.

About the Site

The Women Art Revolution collection web site was developed and published in 2010 in a close collaboration between Stanford's Art and Architecture Library, the Department of Special Collections, and the Stanford Media Preservation Lab.

All of the collection interviews accessible from this site are streaming Flash video. You need the Flash plug-in for playback in your web browser, but chances are you already have it installed.

If you have any questions regarding the use of the site and its content, please contact war-website-info@lists.stanford.edu.

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