Art and Feminism: A Four-Part Course with Dr. Jennie Hirsh

Art and Feminism: A Four-Part Course with Dr. Jennie Hirsh


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This four-part course considers the history of feminist thought from the 1960s to today alongside a selection of artworks informed by various aspects of that discourse. Case studies will include examples drawn from painting, sculpture, installation art, video, photography, and printmaking as well as key exhibitions, performances, and other initiatives from the 1960s to the present.

Led by an expert on modern and contemporary art, Jennie Hirsh, this course will explore the ways in which feminist ideas have been figured in contemporary art as well as the ways in which the discourse of feminism provides critical tools for understanding not only contemporary art but also visual culture writ large.

Photo credit: Soledad Salame, Women’s March I, 2017

Lecture 1: U.S Legislation and Femistist Thinkers

Our first lecture beings with an overview of the history of legislation connected to feminism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in the U.S. Following this, we will look at some key thinkers from disciplines including film theory, literary theory, philosophy, poetry, and psychoanalysis, considering non-Western as well as indigenous and third-world critiques of the limits and shortcomings of Western feminism.

Lecture 2: Early Feminist Art–The 1960s and 1970s

In our second lecture, we will examine early Feminist Art in the 1960s and 1970s with case studies of artists including Marina Abramovic, Lynda Benglis, Louise Bourgeois, Judy Chicago, Mary Beth Edelson, Valie Export, Nan Goldin, Harmony Hammond, Eva Hesse, Yayoi Kusama, the Lesbian Art Project, Ana Mendieta, Yoko Ono, Howardina Pindell, Faith Ringold, Martha Rosler, May Stevens, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Faith Wilding, and Hannah Wilke. Exhibitions highlighted include Womanhouse and Gloria: Another Look at Feminist Art of the 1970s.

Lecture 3: Performativity and Community–The 1980s to the Present.

Week three offers a deeper consideration of the next wave of feminist artists with an emphasis on performativity and community from the 1980s to the present. We will explore case studies through works by Janine Antoni, Rebecca Bellmore, Chakaia Booker, Margarita Cabrera, Sophie Calle, Marion Coleman, Maureen Conner, Tracy Emin, Paz Errázuriz, Andrea Fraser, Coco Fusco, Renee Green, Terri Greeves, Guerilla Girls, Nikki Lee, Sarah Lucas, Wendy Red Star, Jenny Saville, Joyce Scott, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, Renée Stout, Kara Walker, Mary Weatherford, Carrie Mae Weems. We will also revisit the exhibition Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution.

Lecture 4: The Twenty-First Century–Femistic Gestures and Understanding Gender

Our final lecture will focus on twenty-first-century artists whose work represents feminist gestures. We will also consider some artists whose work critiques conventional ways of understanding gender. Tanya Aguiñiga, Cassels, Nani Chacon, Theresa Chromati, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Wendy Cody, Torkwase Dyson, Yishay Garbasz, Sharon Hayes, Kent Monkman, Zanele Muholi, Mickalene Thomas, Ryan Trecartin, Wu Tsang, Juana Valdez, and Marie Watt. Exhibition highlights will include The Queer Voice and Tag: Proposals on Queer Play and the Ways Forward.

Jennie Hirsh (PhD, Bryn Mawr College) is Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She has held postdoctoral fellowships at Princeton and Columbia Universities, as well as pre-doctoral fellowships from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, the U.S. Fulbright commission, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and the Wolfsonian FIU. Hirsh has authored essays on artists including Giorgio de Chirico, Giorgio Morandi, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Yinka Shonibare, and Regina Silveira, and is co-editor, with Isabelle Wallace, of Contemporary Art and Classical Myth (Ashgate 2011).

How does it work?

This is a four-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background on feminist art history, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $140 for four lectures.

Is a recording available?

In general, our courses are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture please let us know in advance and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

This course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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