Tag Archives: feminist art

Marisol and Her Sculpture


Laurie says:

I was recently knocked out by Marisol’s portrait of Magritte. I saw a photo of the sculpture without reference to the artist. I tried to check it out but couldn’t find who the artist was. Fortunately Deb, who is much better at this than I am, discovered it was Marisol. I read an excellent article about her in Wikipedia and several other discussions about her work. Many of the faces on her sculptures are her own.

The combination of cleverness, depth and reflection impressed me immediately in seeing just the one piece. I am normally not a fan of cleverness – I think that for me, it wears very quickly and is mostly superficial. It’s why I’m not a fan of Pop Art. And in reading about Marisol, I found she had been removed from the pantheon of Art because she was complex and not merely clever. (Her gender, of course, had a great deal to do with the ways that she is remarkable in her reflections, and why she did not until very recently receive the acknowledgement that she deserves.) I featured her sculptures in this post, but her oeuvre was a lot bigger. Read the whole Wikipedia article. Marisol led a remarkable, fascinating and complex life. Her full name was Marisol Escobar, but the artist was named only Marisol.

Quotes are from Wikipedia:

During the Postwar period, there was a return of traditional values that reinstated social roles, conforming race and gender within the public sphere. Marisol’s sculptural works toyed with the prescribed social roles and restraints faced by women during this period through her depiction of the complexities of femininity as a perceived truth.



Marisol’s practice demonstrated a dynamic combination of folk art, dada, and surrealism – ultimately illustrating a keen psychological insight on contemporary life. By displaying the essential aspects of femininity within an assemblage of makeshift construction, Marisol was able to comment on the social construct of ‘woman’ as an unstable entity. Using an assemblage of plaster casts, wooden blocks, woodcarving, drawings, photography, paint, and pieces of contemporary clothing, Marisol effectively recognized their physical discontinuities. Through a crude combination of materials, Marisol symbolized the artist’s denial of any consistent existence of ‘essential’ femininity.’Femininity’ being defined as a fabricated identity made through representational parts.An identity which was most commonly determined by the male onlooker, as either mother, seductress, or partner.

Using a feminist technique, Marisol disrupted the patriarchal values of society through forms of mimicry. She imitated and exaggerated the behaviors of the popular public.Through a parody of women, fashion, and television, she attempted to ignite social change.

Georgia O’Keefe


Marisol mimicked the imaginary construct of what it means to be a woman, as well as the role of the ‘artist’. She accomplished this through combining sensibilities of both Action painting and Pop Art Marisol utilized the spontaneous gesture of expression within Action painting along with the cool and collected artistic intent of Pop art. Marisol’s sculptures questioned the authenticity of the constructed self, suggesting it was instead contrived from representational parts.

Art was used not as a platform of personal expression, but as an opportunity to expose the self as an imagined creation. By juxtaposing different signifiers of femininity, Marisol explained the way in which ‘femininity’ is culturally produced But, by incorporating casts of her own hands and expressional strokes in her work, Marisol combined symbols of the ‘artist’ identity celebrated throughout art history.

This approach destabilized the idea of artistic virtue as a rhetorical construct of masculine logic. Therefore, “Collapsing the distance between the role of woman and that of artist by treating the signs of artistic masculinity as no less contingent, no less the product of representation, than are the signs of femininity. Marisol exposed the merit of an artist as a fictional identity that must be enacted through the repetition of representational parts.


Women and Dog


Marisol’s artistic practice has often been excluded from art history, both by art critics and early feminists. For feminists her work was often perceived as reproducing tropes of femininity from an uncritical standpoint, therefore repeating modes of valorization they hoped to move past. Although, Pop art critics would use her “femininity” as the conceptual framework to distinguish the difference between her sentimentality and that of her male associates objectivity. Marisol produced satiric social commentaries in concern to gender and race, which being a woman of color is a circumstance she lives in.Instead of omitting her subjectivity, she used her ‘femininity’ as a mode of deconstructing and redefining the ideas of ‘woman’ and ‘artist’, giving herself control of her own representation.

My Work in US/Chinese Feminist Exhibition

Laurie Says:

I wrote a few days ago about the US/Chinese feminist exhibition Half The Sky: Intersections of Social Practice Art in Shenyang, China at the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts. It runs from April 15th to the 30th.

As I said, I’m delighted to be in the exhibition. The catlogue is beautiful and the reproduction of my photograph of Fumiko Nakmura is excellent. And my photo is also one of the art works featured on the back cover.

The post last week focused on the work of three of the Chinese women. See these two previous posts for far more about the story of the exhibition.

Today I want to focus on work by three US women, including my own. There are a number of installation works, so you may want to check the Women’s Caucus of the Arts gallery page and explore it.

Nahamura Fumiko

I met Fumiko Nakamura through Okinawa Women Act Against [US} Military Violence, who sponsored me there when I was working on my Women of Japan project. In my Women of Japan work, I combine my artistic sensibility with my commitment to capture the person in the photograph: cultural, personal, environmental, and physical cues, what is and is not said or communicated. Centrally, I collaborate with the person in the photograph, who makes many aesthetic choices. Combined with extensive community work, this approach encourages communication across cultural boundaries.

Fumiko Nakamura, filmmaker and peace activist, retired after 40 years as a school teacher to found non-profit Ichi Feet to document the horrors of the battle of Okinawa and the subsequent suffering.

Brenda Oelbaum


How can we women hold up our half the sky if we are busy worrying about the numbers on a scale? “Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history.” – Naomi Wolff. There is so much hysteria about fat that women today in the United States obsess about their bodies and what they eat to the tune of 66 billion dollars a year. Dieting is not only counterproductive, making a dieter’s body better at storing fat, but it also dulls the mind so that we have little energy to do more than count calories. How can we hold up our half of the sky when we are busy worrying about the numbers on a scale? Scales are for fish!”

Suzanne Beutler


In my India series of paintings, I used information from pictures I took in Pune and Bangalore, India.  I have scenes of homeless people in makeshift shelters by the side of the road, along with Rotarian supported schools where I took pictures of enthusiastic students.  I believe education is the hope for the many poor in India.  I plan to show this hope with the school children in juxtaposition to the street scenes.

The conjunction of the US and the Chinese work should be fascinating. I wish I could be there.