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Bowen (Gaza) papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Use Restictions
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Separated Material
  • Processing Information
  • Additional collection guides

  • Contributing Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz
    Title: Gaza Bowen papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MS.293
    Physical Description: 25 Linear Feet 16 boxes, 39 oversize objects
    Date (inclusive): 1980-2008
    Abstract: This collection includes files, notebooks and slides as well as artist's books and installation pieces from "Biblioteca Memoria".
    Physical Location: Stored in Special Collections & Archives: Advance notice is required for access to the papers.
    Language of Material: English


    Collection open for research. Some of the oversize objects are not available for research because of their size, weight and condition.

    Use Restictions

    Property rights for this collection reside with the University of California. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. The publication or use of any work protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use for research or educational purposes requires written permission from the copyright owner. Responsibility for obtaining permissions, and for any use rests exclusively with the user.

    Preferred Citation

    Gaza Bowen papers. MS 293. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Dennis Wheeler in 2002, 2006, 2009.


    Gaza Bowen (1944-2005) was an internationally known sculptor who exhibited extensively since 1978. In the broadest sense her work was an inquiry into the non-verbal communication between people and objects.
    For nearly twenty years she focused her attention on shoes: their construction, history, cultural meaning, and social significance. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, she made functional shoes that sported vibrant colors and unusual patterns. Then she explored shoes as sculptures. Her work has been featured in museums from Berkeley to Los Angeles to Germany. Perhaps her best-known series, "Shoes for the Little Woman," was a group of shoe sculptures created mostly from cleaning supplies: elaborate high heels constructed from kitchen sponges or wooden clothespins, sometimes decorated with pot scrubbers.
    In 1995, supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council, Gaza stepped away from the shoe idiom and began exploring the relationship between the personal and the political, building mixed media sculptures based on childhood memories.
    From 1997 to 1999 she continued her investigation into how the history of use becomes indelibly etched into the fiber of matter and how those traces of memory evoke meaning in the viewer. This work culminated in "Bibliotheca Memoria", a library/reading room installation of books and furniture built from salvaged materials.
    Her use of detritus as art material led her to an artist-in-residency at the San Francisco dump in 2000. Her final project from this four month residency was the "Waste Not/What Not Catalog". She also produced many artist's books including "Red Shoe Reader" and "The Secret Game".
    Gaza Bowen's work is included in many private and public collections including Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Oakland Museum, and The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; The Getty Center for Art and the Humanities and The Norton Family Foundation, Santa Monica, California; Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia and Duetsches Schuhmuseum, Offenbach am Main, Germany.
    Excerpted from Gaza Bowen, Artist, Biography at gazabowen.com & SF Gate obituary, 6/11/2005, by Kelly Hill, Chronicle Staff Writer.
    A resume of Gaza Bowen's work can be found under "Additional Guides" to this finding aid.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection includes files, notebooks and slides as well as artist's books and installation pieces from "Biblioteca Memoria". Many of the objects were fabricated from material from the San Francisco Land Fill and are rusty and sharp edged. Please handle with care.

    Separated Material

    Red shoe reader [Gaza Bowen, compiler], and Waste not/what not catalog : new paradigm products, [designed, photographed, written by Gaza Bowen] have been cataloged separately.

    Processing Information

    Processed by:
    M. Carey
    Date Completed:
    February 2014
    Encoded by:
    M. Carey

    Additional collection guides

    1. Gaza Bowen Resume 
    2. Slide Bin Divisions  

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Artists--California--Santa Cruz County
    Installations (Art)