commentary by Bea Garth
I was just reading “The History of The Women’s Caucus of Art” by
© Eleanor Dickinson, 2007. It is well worth the read! You can find it here: http://www.nationalwca.org/wcadocs/TheHistory%20of%20the%20WCA.pdf
The WCA has radical feminist roots we can be proud of. Women artists began to become more aware that we were being overlooked in the late 1960’s, early 1970’s. More women began to realize we were usually treated as if we were nearly invisible when it came to getting recognition as an artist or an arts educator. In addition, most of the history of women artists was ignored and forgotten.
This was part of the widespread feminist awareness that grew as a result of the activism of women participating in the anti Vietnam war movement. Women soon discovered they were not only overlooked by the system in general, but also found they were sidelined by the male activists they were working with. “The personal IS political” became the rallying call.
The feminist art movement that became the WCA was led by artists like Judy Chicago along with many arts educators and other artist activists. They were willing to confront the system by owning their own personal power as women through their art.
Throughout the years since, the WCA has been instrumental in helping women artists become recognized as strong contenders in the art scene and in art education both in the US as well as throughout the world.
Eventually, however, the WCA faced an organizational and financial impasse. True to its strong roots, the WCA found a way to overcome organizational chaos and potential financial disaster. Certainly the selfless leadership of the women involved as well as the rise of the computer age helped make its complex organization simpler.
The WCA now offers a platform of support for women artists, students and educators while maintaining both the independence and importance of its many national chapters and international connections.
It is my opinion that we, as feminist artists, are finally getting ready for the next phase. What that is, is up to us. Will we decide to be a part of the next paradigm shift towards creating a more socially, politically and ecologically interconnected view (i.e., away from what appears to be an increasingly desperate, corrupt and ultimately anti-ecological patriarchal system)? Or not? The decision is up to us.
Whatever the decision, the WCA will continue to help women artists find mutual support in the complex art world since, yes, the personal still is political.