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Mother Art records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Archival Materials.
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Mother Art records
    Date (inclusive): 1973-2017, undated
    Number: 2017.M.60
    Creator/Collector: Mother Art
    Physical Description: 7.57 Linear Feet (12 boxes. Computer media: 2.98 GB [20 files])
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The Mother Art records document the Los Angeles collective's artistic engagement with sociopolitical concerns relating to maternity, domesticity, and women's issues through photographs, posters, ephemera, press kits, and audio and videorecordings.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record   for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in English

    Biographical / Historical

    Formed in 1973 in the Los Angeles Woman's Building, Mother Art was a collective of women artists dedicated to creating sociopolitical art around issues such as the social invisibility of maternal labor and the impact of the lack of socially supported daycare on the professional practices of female artists.
    The Mother Art collective was established by five artists from the Feminist Studio Workshop who lacked support from their instructors and fellow participants who did not have children and did not believe it feasible for parents to be serious artists. Jan Cook, Christine Kruse, Helen Million, Suzanne Siegel, and Laura Silagi began meeting weekly in 1973 to advocate for their needs as both mothers and artists. Mother Art's first project was to create a space at the Woman's Building for children, who had not previously been permitted onsite. In 1974, they used electrical cable spools from the Department of Water and Power to build Rainbow Playground in the Woman's Building parking lot. Their next major project, 1975's By Mothers, consisted of an exhibition at the Woman's Building in which ten artists reflected on their personal experience as mothers, with a month-long program series for mothers and children that included workshops, performances, and lectures on motherhood and feminism. A second, larger exhibition, By Mothers was curated by the collective in 1976, with work by women artists from all over the western United States.
    Additional Mother Art projects include Laundry Works (1977), a performance series funded by a California Arts Council grant that took place in laundromats throughout Los Angeles; and two 1978 performances, Mother Art Cleans Up City Hall and Mother Art Cleans Up the Banks , with a related installation in 1979 at California State University, Los Angeles. In the 1980s, Mother Art performances and installations incorporated real women's narratives and focused on various social issues such as abortion ( Pro-Choice, 1981), Central American refugees ( Flowers for Four Women , 1984), and women's poverty ( Homeless Women , 1984).
    Mother Art ceased formal collaboration in 1986. Throughout its existence from 1973-1986, the collective consisted of eight women: the five founding members, Jan Cook (1973-1975), Christine Kruse (1973-1976), Helen Million (1973-1978), Suzanne Siegel (1973-1986), and Laura Silagi (1973-1986); and additional members, Gloria Hajduk (1975-1982), Velene Campbell (1977-1978), and Deborah Krall (1981-1986).
    The (Re)Visiting Mother Art retrospective at the Shenere Velt Gallery in 2000 featured a new installation by members Siegel, Silagi, and Krall: Mid-Life, Running out of Time. The group has since participated in several exhibitions, including Doin' It in Public (2011) at the Otis Art Institute as part of the Getty's Pacific Standard Time initiative. In 2012, Mother Art created a documentary film of the collective's history: Mother Art Tells Her Story .
    Sources consulted:
    "About," Mother Art, accessed February 26, 2019, https://motherart.org.
    Siegel, Suzanne, Laura Silagi, and Deborah Krall. Mother Art: A Collective of Women Artists . Los Angeles: Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design, 2011.
    Silagi, Laura. "Mother Art," undated.
    Tain, John. Acquisition Approval Form for "Mother Art records, mainly 1973-1986," accession no. 2017.M.60, August 10, 2017.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers. Born digital content will be made available on-site only, through the digital preservation repository. Born digital content and audiovisual materials unavailable until reformatted. Contact reference for reformatting.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Mother Art records, 1973-2017, undated, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2017.M.60

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Mother Art: Laura Silagi, Suzanne Siegel, Deborah Krall. Acquired in 2017.

    Processing Information

    Initial arrangement and description by Hitomi Matsuyama, under the supervision of Sarah Mackenzie Wade. Final arrangement and finding aid by Sarah Mackenzie Wade. Digital materials were processed by Laura Schroffel in 2019. Files require further processing before access copies can be made available.
    This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, ST-03-17-0007-17.

    Related Archival Materials.

    Woman's Building records, 1973-1991, Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 2017.M.43.
    Maria Karras collection of Woman's Building papers and photographs, 1973-1980, Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 2018.M.6.
    L.A. Artists for Survival records relating to Target L.A., Getty Research Institute, Accession no.2017.M.46.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Mother Art records reflect the sociopolitical and feminist art practices of the Los Angeles women's collective, formally active from 1973-1986, with administrative files that detail Mother Art's formation at the Los Angeles Woman's Building and project files that document the group's performances and installations in Los Angeles area community and arts organizations.


    Arranged in two series: Series I. Administrative files, 1974-2014, undated; Series II. Project files, 1973-2017, undated.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    Mother Art
    Woman's Building (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Woman's Building (Los Angeles, Calif.)

    Subjects - Topics

    Art, American -- California -- 20th century
    Art -- Political aspects -- United States -- 20th century
    Feminism in art -- United States -- 20th century
    Installations (Art)
    Motherhood and the arts
    Performance art -- California -- Los Angeles
    Women artists -- Archives
    Women artists -- California -- Los Angeles
    Women artists -- United States -- 20th century

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Black-and-white prints (photographs)
    Born digital
    Color slides
    Inkjet prints
    Photographs, Original.
    Printed ephemera
    Video recordings


    Mother Art
    Krall, Deborah
    Siegel, Suzanne
    Silagi, Laura