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

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Woman's Building records
    Date (inclusive): 1960-2016, undated
    Number: 2017.M.43
    Creator/Collector: Woman's Building (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Physical Description: 58 Linear Feet (131 boxes, 15 flatfile folders. Computer media: 711.7 GB [10,008 files], 12 unprocessed floppy disks, 3 unprocessed compact discs, 3 unprocessed computer chips, and 1 unprocessed zip disk)
    Repository:
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    reference@getty.edu
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The Los Angeles Woman's Building was established in 1973 by artist Judy Chicago, designer Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, and art historian Arlene Raven. The Woman's Building was a center for women's art education and a facility for women's groups and organizations. During its time, the Woman's Building played a key role in the field of feminist art and arts education. Materials in the collection offer a comprehensive overview of the activities of the Woman's Building from 1973 to 1991, and document the organization's post-1991 projects. Materials were collected by Sue Maberry during her time as an artist and administrator of the Woman's Building and later as Director of Library and Instructional Technologies at Otis College of Art and Design. Materials consist of printed ephemera and photographic material related to educational programs, exhibitions, performances, events, and various collaborative projects. Included are administrative files, artist files, publications, correspondence, project files, audio and video recordings, and digital files produced for various projects. The collection also contains material documenting the Doin' It In Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman's Building exhibition held at Otis College of Art and Design in 2011-2012.
    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

    The Los Angeles Woman's Building was established in 1973 as a center for educational programs for women artists and a facility for women's groups and organizations. Founded by artist Judy Chicago, designer Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, and art historian Arlene Raven, the Woman's Building was the realization of the founders' vision to provide a space where art and activities of the women's community could intersect. During its time, the Woman's Building played a key role in the field of feminist art and arts education.
    In 1970, Judy Chicago founded the Feminist Art Program (FAP) at California State University, Fresno. The FAP was the first feminist art education program and drew fifteen women students within the first year. In 1971, Chicago moved the FAP to the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), where she and her colleague and fellow artist Miriam Schapiro organized the large-scale, site-based, collaborative project Womanhouse. Chicago, Schapiro, their students, and artists from the local community participated in the project, creating the first publicly visible work of feminist art. The following year, the FAP organized and hosted the West Coast Conference of Women Artists. The FAP pioneered the concept of feminist art education and laid the foundation for the development of feminist art education principles and concepts.
    In 1973, Judy Chicago, Arlene Raven (FAP faculty member), and Sheila Levrant de Bretteville (founder of the CalArts Women's Design Program) decided to leave CalArts to found the Feminist Studio Workshop (FSW), an alternative art education school for women artists, which was one of the first of its kind. The first sessions of the FSW were held in de Bretteville's living room, but by the fall of 1973, the FSW took residence in the old Chouinard Art Institute building at 743 South Grandview Boulevard, near Los Angeles' MacArthur Park. Before the building could be opened to the public, volunteers and students worked together to renovate it. The building was named after the 1893 Woman's Building (also known as the Women's Pavilion) at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. The 1893 Woman's Building was designed by architect Sophia Hayden and housed artistic and cultural works made by women. After the 1893 fair, Hayden's Woman's Building was demolished. The Los Angeles Woman's Building opened its doors in November 1973.
    Chicago, Raven, and de Bretteville believed art should not be separated from the activities associated with the women's community; they envisioned a space that would be shared with other women's groups and organizations. Building space not utilized by the FSW was used by the galleries Womanspace, Grandview, and 707. The building's auditorium was used by the theater groups L.A. Feminist Theater, Women's Improvisational Theater, and the Women's Performance Project. Other organizations that took up residence in the Woman's Building include Womantours, Sisterhood Bookstore, and a local chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
    The Chouinard Building was sold in 1975, and the Woman's Building moved to 1727 Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles. Again, students and volunteers helped to renovate the building and create a space in which the Woman's Building would operate until its closing in 1991. Not all of the organizations from the Chouinard Building moved to the new Spring Street location, but the Woman's Building continued to share a space with various women organizations. The FSW continued to attract hundreds of women seeking a feminist art education. Along with the FSW, the Extension Program was created in order to provide classes for women who could not enroll in the full-time FSW program. Several collaborative projects and groups emerged from the Woman's Building, including the Feminist Art Workers, Mother Art, The Waitresses, Sisters of Survival, Ariadne: A Social Art Network, the Lesbian Art Project, the women's culture magazine Chrysalis, and the Woman's Building monthly newsletter Spinning Off.
    In 1981, the FSW closed due to lack of funding, and the Woman's Building restructured itself to meet the needs of working women. To generate funds, the building opened the Women's Graphic Center, a design and typesetting business, and rented out studio spaces to artists. By 1982, all three of the original founders had left the organization and building leadership was taken up by Cheri Gaulke, Terry Wolverton, and Anne Gauldin. Under their leadership, the Woman's Building launched the Vesta Awards, an annual awards event and fundraiser celebrating women's contributions to the arts. The organization also sponsored several artists projects, including the Madre Tierra Project, Target L.A., the Great American Lesbian Art Show (GALAS), and the Cross Pollination poster project. During this time, the Woman's Building continued to provide the space and resources for art exhibitions, performances, readings, educational workshops, and events. After much financial hardship, the Woman's Building closed its doors in 1991. Despite its lack of a physical space the Woman's Building continues to exist as a registered non-profit organization.
    Sue Maberry, one of the artists and administrators of the Woman's Building, went on to become the Director of Library and Instructional Technologies at Otis College of Art and Design. Maberry's active involvement with the Woman's Building pre- and post-1991 facilitated the creation of the Woman's Building records which Maberry compiled. Maberry attended the Feminist Studio Workshop from 1976 to 1977, and later joined the Woman's Building staff. During her time at the Woman's Building, Maberry worked with artists, including Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, Suzanne Lacy, Leslie Labowitz, and Cheri Gaulke; she co-founded the anti-nuclear performance art group Sisters of Survival (SOS); worked as Program Director of the Woman's Graphic Center; helped organize events, write grants and curate exhibitions. Maberry left the Woman's Building to serve as Program Director at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena from 1987 to 1991, and briefly worked as a Newspaper Librarian at the Los Angeles Daily News. In 1992, Maberry was hired as Director of the Library at Otis where she continues to work today. During her time at Otis, Maberry has initiated numerous projects, and she was one of the Project Directors of Doin' It In Public. Maberry holds a BA in Art from Pitzer College and a MLS from San Jose State University.
    Sources consulted:
    Hale, Sondra, and Terry Wolverton, eds. From Site to Vision: The Woman's Building in Contemporary Culture . Los Angeles: Otis College of Art and Design, 2011.
    Linton, Meg, Sue Maberry, and Elizabeth Pulsinelli, eds. Doin' It In Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman's Building . Los Angeles: Otis College of Art and Design, 2011.
    Maberry, Sue. "Woman's Building History: Sue Maberry (from Otis College)." Produced by Otis College of Art and Design for the exhibition Doin' It In Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman's Building , March 19, 2012. Video, 9:49. https://youtu.be/82i0BG40TSA.
    Tain, John. Acquisition Approval Form for "Woman's Building records, 1973-1991," accession no. 2017.M.43, May 11, 2017.
    The Woman's Building. "Timeline." 2016. https://thewomansbuilding.org/timeline.html

    Administrative Information

    Access

    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 are unavailable until reformatted. Contact reference for reformatting.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Woman's Building records, 1960-2016, undated, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2017.M.43
    http://hdl.handle.net/10020/cifa2017m43

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Sue Maberry. Acquired in 2017.

    Processing Information

    Jasmine Larkin processed the collection and wrote the finding aid in 2019 under the supervision of Kit Messick.
    Samantha Ceja processed and described Series II. Photographs in 2019 under the supervision of Kit Messick and Jasmine Larkin.
    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 Materials

    Feminist Art Workers records, 1977-2012, Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 2017.M.48
    L.A. Artists for Survival records relating to Target L.A., 1981-1984, Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 2017.M.46
    Maria Karras collection of Woman's Building papers and photographs, 1973-1980, Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 2018.M.6
    Mother Art records, 1973-2016, Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 2017.M.60
    Sisters of Survival records, 1981-1985, Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 2017.M.47
    Waitresses records, 1971-2015, undated, Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 2017.M.45
    Several publications have been transferred to the Getty Research Library's general collections. These can be searched in the online catalog under the search phrase "Woman's Building Collection."

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The records of the Woman's Building document the activities of the Los Angeles Woman's Building during its years of active operation from 1973 to 1991, as well as the years following the closing of the physical building from 1992 to 2016. The records also document the 2011-2012 Otis College of Art and Design exhibition Doin' It In Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman's Building . Collection materials were compiled by Sue Maberry during her time as an artist and administrator of the Woman's Building and later as Director of Library and Instructional Technologies at Otis College of Art and Design. The records reflect the influential role the Woman's Building played in the field of feminist art and women's arts education; the building served as a vital center for women artists and the national feminist movement during the 1970s and 1980s.
    The records mainly consist of printed ephemera and photographic materials created by the Woman's Building and its participants documenting events, programs, and activities hosted at, and sponsored by, the Woman's Building. To a lesser extent, the records consist of administrative files and artist files documenting projects and activities that took place in the later years of the Woman's Building history, including the years after the physical building closed. A small portion of the records contain publications and Doin' It In Public exhibition materials. The records of the Woman's Building date from 1960 to 2016, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1974 to 2011.

    Arrangement

    Arranged in six series: Series I. Printed ephemera and promotional material, 1975-1992, undated; Series II. Photographs, 1960-1991, undated; Series III. Administrative files, 1974-2016, undated; Series IV. Artist files, 1974-2015, undated; Series V. Publications, 1971-2007, undated; Series VI. Doin' It In Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman's Building exhibition materials, 1974-2015, undated.
    Born digital materials are integrated into their corresponding series based on content. The original order of the files is retained.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    Woman's Building (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Otis College of Art and Design
    Feminist Studio Workshop
    Women's Graphic Center (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    World's Columbian Exposition (1893 : Chicago, Ill.)

    Subjects - Topics

    Art, American -- California -- 20th century
    Feminism in art -- United States -- 20th century
    Nonprofit organizations -- California -- Los Angeles
    Women artists -- Archives
    Women artists -- California -- Los Angeles
    Women artists -- United States -- 20th century

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Audiocassettes
    Black-and-white prints (photographs)
    Born digital
    Color slides
    DVDs
    Floppy disks
    Photographs, Original
    Printed ephemera
    Sound recordings
    Videocassettes
    Video recordings
    Black-and-white negatives
    Chromogenic color prints
    Color negatives
    Color transparencies
    Gelatin silver prints

    Contributors

    Woman's Building (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Maberry, Sue
    Chicago, Judy, 1939-
    Raven, Arlene
    De Bretteville, Sheila Levrant
    Otis College of Art and Design