Related Archival Materials
Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Maria Karras collection of Woman's Building papers and photographs
Date (inclusive): 1972-2018,
10.9 Linear Feet
(18 boxes, 4 flatfile folders. Computer media: 57.1 GB [751
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles 90049-1688
Business Number: (310) 440-7390
Fax Number: (310) 440-7780
The collection presents a record of the historic first years of the
Woman's Building in Los Angeles and the women involved with it, including Feminist Studio
Workshop founders Judy Chicago, Sheila de Bretteville, and Arlene Raven. Maria Karras's
photographs are joined by related ephemera, correspondence, posters, and other documentary
materials, together with a selection of original artwork by Karras and her peers.
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Language: Collection material is in
Maria Karras was born in New York City in 1950 and received her BFA in printmaking from the
State University of New York at Buffalo in 1973. Inspired by a two-day workshop led by Judy
Chicago that she attended before graduating, Karras decided to enroll at the Feminist Studio
Workshop (FSW), which opened later that year in the fall of 1973. She arrived in Los Angeles
that September, and became part of the inaugural cohort at the FSW, where she attended the
first classes held at co-founder Sheila de Bretteville's home and helped to transform what
had been the Chouinard Art Institute on South Grand View Street near MacArthur Park into the
first home of the Woman's Building, which opened to the public in November of that year.
From 1973 to 1980, Karras documented the daily life of the Woman's Building while also
taking part in the Feminist Studio Workshop and the Women's Graphic Center. During this
time, she also obtained her Master of Arts in art education from Goddard College and
produced her own feminist photography and books addressing gender roles, especially in
relation to race and ethnicity and her Greek-American heritage. In the late 1970s, she
received a Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) grant, which she used to create
a project for the city's bus system titled
Both Here and
This project was later included as part of the group exhibition
Issue: Social Strategies by Women Artists, curated by Lucy Lippard
for the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London.
Karras became certified as a registered biological photographer and worked in that capacity
at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center and the
University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center from 1980 to 1988. In 1983, Karras
opened Maria Karras Photography, a creative portrait studio in Pasadena, California where
the artist continues to work.
In addition to the ICA London, Karras's work has been shown at the Woman's Building, the
Centre Pompidou in Paris, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., and
the Brooklyn Museum. In 2011, she and Marguerite Elliot published
Woman's Building and Feminist Art Education, 1973-1991: A Pictorial Herstory
conjunction with the Getty's initiative, Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA, 1945-1980.
Elliot, Marguerite, and Maria Karras, eds.
The Woman's Building and
Feminist Art Education, 1973-1991: A Pictorial Herstory.
Los Angeles: Otis College
of Art and Design, 2011.
Maria Karras collection of Woman's Building papers and photographs, accession no.
2018.M.16, "Collection background and historical perspective," 2017, Box 16, Folder 10.
Tain, John. Acquisition Approval Form for "Maria Karras (American, 1950-), Collection of
Woman's Building Photography, 1973-1980," accession no. 2018.M.16, September 6, 2017.
Open for use by qualified researchers. Born digital content is unavailable until
reformatted. Contact reference for reformatting.
Maria Karras collection of Woman's Building papers and photographs, 1972-2018, undated, The
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2018.M.16.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Maria Karras, BFA, RBP, MA. Acquired in 2017.
Rachel Poutasse processed the collection and wrote the finding aid in 2019 under the
supervision of Kit Messick and Sarah Wade. Photographic materials were preliminarily
processed in 2019 by Beth Ann Guynn. Digital materials were processed by Laura Schroffel in
2019. Further processing is required for remaining digital content.
Of the 751 digital files, 22 files are digitized contact sheets that feature events
described in both Series I and Series II. These 22 digital files are included in the file
count and size for the extent of both series.
A portion of digital reference images from Series IA are available online
Related Archival Materials
Woman's Building records, 1971-2016, Getty Research Institute, 2017.M.43.
Scope and Content of Collection
The Maria Karras collection comprises ephemera and photographic documentation of the
Woman's Building and affiliated groups such as the Feminist Studio Workshop, as well as
projects by Maria Karras and other Woman's Building artists. Series I comprises photographic
materials that document activities at the Woman's Building, especially from 1973 to 1980,
and various Woman's Building ephemera collected by Maria Karras from 1973 to 2007, such as
posters, articles, publications, and promotional materials. Series I also includes artists'
books, mail art, and exhibition posters and announcements by individual artists affiliated
with the Woman's Building. Series II consists of Maria Karras's own work from her period at
the Woman's Building, as well as her 2011 collaboration with Marguerite Elliot on
The Woman's Building and Feminist Art Education, 1973-1991: A Pictorial
. Karras's 1978-1979 project that documents the experiences of thirteen
bicultural women living in Los Angeles,
Both Here and There,
is especially well-represented. For both Series I and Series II, most sheets of negatives
and slides are accompanied by corresponding digital files.
The collection is arranged in two series: and
Series I. Woman's
Building papers and photographs, 1972-2018, undated;
Series II. Maria Karras's projects,
Born digital materials are integrated into their corresponding series based on content. The
original order of the files is retained in our digital repository.
Subjects - Names
Chicago, Judy, 1939-
De Bretteville, Sheila Levrant
Subjects - Corporate Bodies
Woman's Building (Los Angeles,
Subjects - Topics
Women artists -- Archives
Women artists -- California -- Los Angeles
Women artists -- United States -- 20th century
Feminism and art -- United States
Genres and Forms of Material
Black-and-white prints (photographs)
Color prints (photographs)