Join us for the second Women of Colour Catalogue Reading Group
Monday 21st November at 11 – 1pm,
Special Collections & Archives, The Library with Althea Greenan, Samia Malik and Michelle Williams Gamaker
This month we will look at ‘the MEDIUM and the MESSAGE’, a seminal exhibition from 1988, featuring five women printmakers: Chila Kumari Burman, Trisha Ferguson, Alison Marchant, Julieta Rubio, Judith Rugg.
The Women of Colour Catalogue Reading Group has been initiated by artist Samia Malik and will run throughout the year. Its purpose is to make the archive an active space for learning, sharing and engaging with the work of women artists of colour who have made key contributions to contemporary art. Critical to this discussion is an exploration of how the archive is relevant to contemporary experiences of race, gender, sexuality, ability and class.
Everyone is welcome to join this conversation. Future sessions will explore ways to bring the archive to prominence at Goldsmiths and beyond.
Please note this session is open to all BA Fine Art Students including BA Fine Art Extension students.
About the Collection
The Women’s Art Library (MAKE) is located in the Library’s Special Collections Suite on the ground floor of the library. The Women’s Art Library began as an artists’ initiative that developed into an arts organization publishing catalogues and books as well as a magazine from the early 1980s to 2002. The main purpose however was to provide a place for women artists to deposit unique documentation of their work. Thousands of artists from around the world are represented in some form in this collection. The Women’s Art Library continues to collect slides, artist statements, exhibition ephemera, catalogues, and press material in addition to audio and videotapes, photographs and CD-Roms. We welcome donations from women artists to help us develop this collection.
WORKSHOP READING TEXTS*:
*these texts will be provided during the workshop
the MEDIUM and the MESSAGE: 5 Women Printmakers (Chila Kumari Burman, Trisha Ferguson, Alison Marchant, Julieta Rubio, Judith Rugg) Rochdale Art Gallery, Jan-March, 1988
There Have Always Been Great Blackwomen Artists, Chila Burman
Ask how I feel: Chila Kumari Burman, Feminist Art News, issue #6
‘So all in all it was pretty hard. I think people under estimate the hard struggle that Asia working class women artists have to go through in order to assert themselves, gain respect, and survive in this mad world. To challenge the strict patriarchal culture with double standards and traditions which encourage suppression and control, demands courage and strength.’
Chila Kumari Burman, Feminist Art News, issue #6
’It would seem that women’s traditional relationship with printmaking is a somehow ‘natural’ phenomenon. We would argue rather that women have become identified with this area because of the gender politics of art. Many factors influence women’s move into printmaking; the hierarchical relationship between sculpture, painting and printmaking, based on the former’s masculine credentials has forced women to move into such areas.
Their very presence has allowed society to construct negative associations, where printmaking is viewed as a craft; technical rather than creative, decorative rather than informative and aligned to the domestic.
The women in this exhibition consciously take on and disrupt such notions, their work deals with issues important to themselves and others.’
Sarah Edge, Jill Morgan, Rochdale Art Gallery, 1988
Ahead of the workshop, please read Chila Burman’s text:
THERE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN GREAT BLACKWOMEN ARTISTS (Synopsis) Chila Burman
We face many problems when trying to establish the very existence of Blackwomen’s art, and a strong social and political base from which to develop our study of it. Firstly, we have to struggle to establish our existence, let alone our credibility as autonomous beings, in the art world. Secondly, we can only remain that credible and survive as artists if we become fully conscious of ourselves, lest we are demoralised or weakened by the social, economic and political constraints which the white-male art establishment imposes and will continue to impose upon us.
This paper, then, is saying Blackwomen artists are here, we exist and we exist positively despite the racial, sexual and class oppressions which we suffer, but first however, we must point out the way in which these oppressions have operated in a wider context – not just in the art world, but also in the struggles for black and female liberation.
It is true to say that although Blackwomen have been the staunchest allies of black men and white women in the struggle of the oppression we all face at the hands of the capitalist and patriarchal system, we have hardly ever received either the support we need or recognition of our pivotal role in this struggle. Blackwomen now realise that because of the specific ways in which we are oppressed by white-male dominated society, we must present a new challenge to imperialism, racism and sexism from inside and outside the established black liberation movement and at critical distance to the white-dominated feminist movement. It is this realisation which has a lot to do with many second generation British Blackwomen reclaiming art, firstly as a legitimate area of activity for Blackwomen as a distinct group of people, secondly as a way of developing an awareness (denied us by this racist, sexist, class society) of ourselves as complete human beings and thirdly as a contribution to the black struggle in general.
Having said this, Blackwomen’s ability to do any of these three things is restricted by the same pressures of racism, sexism and class exclusivity which we experience in society in general. The bourgeoise art establishment only acknowledge white men as truly creative and innovative artists, whilst recognising art by white women only as a homogenous expression of femininity and art by black people (or, more accurately, within the terms of reference used, black men) as a static expression of the ritual experience of the daily lives of their communities, be they in the Third World or the imperialistic hinterland. In this system of knowledge Blackwomen artists, quiet simply, do not exist.
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