Miriam Schapiro

Miriam Schapiro (November 15, 1923 – June 20, 2015) was a Canadian-born artist based in America. She was a painter, sculptor, printmaker, and a pioneer of feminist art. She was also considered a leader of the Pattern and Decoration art movement. Schapiro's artwork blurs the line between fine art and craft. She incorporated craft elements into her paintings due to their association with women and femininity. She often used icons that are associated with women, such as hearts, floral decorations, geometric patterns, and the color pink. In the 1970s she made the hand fan, a typically small woman's object, heroic by painting it six feet by twelve fee

 Schapiro not only honored the craft tradition in women's art, but also paid homage to women artists of the past. In the early 1970s she made paintings and collages which included photo reproductions of Mary Cassatt's and Georgia O'keefe's paintings. In the mid 1980s she painted portraits of Frida Kahlo on top of her old self-portrait paintings. In the 1990s Schapiro began to include women of the Russian Avant Garde in her work. The Russian Avant Garde was an important moment in Modern Art history for Schapiro to reflect on because women were seen as equals. Early in her career, Schapiro started looking for maternal symbols to unify her own roles as a woman. Her series, Shrines was created in 1961-63 with this in mind. It is one of her earliest group of work that was also an autobiography. Each section of the work show an aspect of being a woman artist. They are also symbolic of her body and soul. Her painting, Big Ox No. 1, from 1968, references Shrines, however no longer compartmentalized. The center O takes on the symbol of the egg which exists as the window into the maternal structure with outstretched limbs.

 In the 1970s, Schapiro and Brach moved to California so that both could teach in the art department at the University of California. Subsequently, she was able to establish the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts, in Valencia with Judy Chicago. The program set out to address the problems in the arts from an institutional position. They wanted the creation of art to be less of a private, introspective adventure and more of a public process through consciousness raising sessions, personal confessions and technical training.She participated in the Womanhouse exhibition in 1972. Schapiro's smaller piece within Womanhouse, called "Dollhouse", was constructed using various scrap pieces to create all the furniture and accessories in the house. Each room signified a particular role a woman plays in society and depicted the conflicts between them.

 Schapiro's work from the 1970s onwards consists primarily of collages assembled from fabrics, which she called "femmages". As Schapiro traveled the United States giving lectures, she would ask the women she met for a souvenir. These souvenirs would be used in her collage like paintings. Her 1977-1978 essay Waste Not Want Not: An Inquiry into What Women Saved and Assembled - FEMMAGE (written with Melissa Meyer) describes femmage as the activities of collage, assemblage, découpage and photomontage practised by women using "traditional women's techniques - sewing, piercing, hooking, cutting, appliquéing, cooking and the like..."
Schapiro's works are held in numerous museum collections including the Jewish Museum (New York), the National Gallery of Art,and the Flomenhaft Gallery. Her awards include the Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement from the College Art Association and a 1987 Guggenheim Fellowship.Miriam Schapiro's estate is represented exclusively by Eric Firestone Gallery.Wikipedia

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