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Houston Breakthrough 1980-02
Page 21
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Houston Breakthrough 1980-02 - Page 21. February 1980. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. July 29, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/371/show/361.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(February 1980). Houston Breakthrough 1980-02 - Page 21. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/371/show/361

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough 1980-02 - Page 21, February 1980, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed July 29, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/371/show/361.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough 1980-02
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date February 1980
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 32 page periodical
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 21
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name femin_201109_557au.jpg
Transcript thing beyond money-that's really revolutionary. JC: I'm not promoting that as a final goal, but we don't have the money now. If we had the money, we would buy women's art, we would find all the ways we could to support womens' culture. But if we don't have money it doesn't mean we are bereft of ways of providing or giving rewards. A lot of this has come from my own experience of feeling tremendously unrewarded. I don't have any money, I'm not in museum collections, I don't have any of the traditional rewards that a man who is my peer would have. And I have felt incredibly isolated from the very community that I helped give birth to. I think it's important to learn from that because I don't want other women to feel like that. I think that the women who have achieved, who are our leaders and our heroes, we need to find ways to make them not feel isolated and make them feel rewarded. I don't think it's anything we've addressed at all. So being a success is actually very isolating, more isolating because then people want more from you. NLF: You've talked about money, art that's relevant to society, wanting to challenge definition of art; could you talk about some ofyour goals and what you think The Dinner Party might do toward those? JC: A lot of it has to do with the idea that art has an incredible power to change people's lives have thousands of posters and images of all of us. NLF: How is it inaccessible? JC: First of all, in order to see it, you have to go to a museum. OK now we know that a lot of that work by women isn't even hung in a museum. And then, even if you do manage to see it, it's hung in a context where there's maybe one Mary Cassatt and 12 Picassos and four Renoirs and two Matisses and three Manets ... So Here's this one little voice saying "I don't think so." But it gets drowned... NLF: So you walk away saying "Golly, there was a woman impressionist." JC: Exactly. But you don't get the full impact of her work. You don't get to know about how Mary Cassatt created a mural called Modern Woman, 65 feet long, which was lost. Lost! Nobody went to look for it either, because it was a set of images of women that were quite challenging. .. Let's say there's a painting in the museum that really makes you feel good, what can you do, you gonna go there every day? No, you have to have it on your wall. OK, how do you get it on your wall? Well, the way you get it on your wall is for women artists to make images where hundreds of thousands of them can get on women's walls all over the world so that every day, women can have that experience of feeling affirmed by an image that says, you really are OK, you really are terrific, there studio at night. DB: You mean they're not trained to take risks? JC: They're not trained to take risks; they're not trained to be entrepreneurs, they're just... NLF: Who do you mean, "they?" JC: We. Well, I am trained that way! They yes, they, I'm not like that. I mean I wasn't like that. I had my grandma-my grandma ran the whole business and supported the whole family while my grandpa was a rabbi and never made a dime. DB: To be fair, can it be argued that women have more to lose and less to gain? JC: What do we have to lose? What we have to lose is security, a certain illusion of security. You know how much security I have? Til the end of next month. This is after 20 years of work. I don't know what'll happen after that. NLF: There's another kind of security too. I've been reading Germaine Greer's The Obstacle Race and she says that for so many women it's been a choice between art and life. JC: I'm getting what you call a little more mature. I think that achievement costs. I think it's ridiculous to pretend that it doesn't cost. There's no question men still have wives and can have kids and they don't have to say: do I have to make a choice between having kids and being an artist? But I think we've all been brought up with some delusions, like what does it cost for a man to have to support a woman? Judy Chicago in front of The Dinner Party exhibit and art, the way it is now, is as imprisoned as women and as powerless. For example, women in the 20th century struggled with ideas about who they are and what their major loyalty is. That is so silly. Charlotte Bronte, in the 19th century, addressed it and answered it. And all we have to do is read a book and we know the answer and its the same thing about art images, you know. There's a lot of images of women that are not like the images of women that are in the museum. They're made by women, Frida Kahlo, Suzanne Valadon, Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot and all these images of women that provide a different sense of self for us- Artemesia Gentileschi-all we have to do is look at those and we get affirmed in the idea that we can be strong and we don't have to be passive. We can be assertive and we don't have to be receptive. All these women struggling with those ideas, and feeling insecure and unable, if they had one of those images on their walls they would get re-ienforced everyday. But art is tied up so that it's inaccessible to women. We don't really is another way to be a woman. Just think about what if every wall in your house was covered with those images and when you woke up in the morning, every day, you got that message. It would certainly help when you got out on the street and got barraged with the other stuff. Women, psychologically, are labor-intensive. For example, we have a mail-order business which generated about $30,000 a year. We're having enormous trouble finding a woman who can think in the following way: this business is generating $30,000 a year, I could go to a bank, take out a loan and generate enough money to do advertisements and build up this business. But in order to do it, I will have to work for two years for nothing-l will not get three dollars an hour. I will have to take a risk that it may not work. But if it does work, I will generate an enormous amount of money. Women are not trained to think like that. Women think it's better for me to go get a job as a waitress for $3 an hour and work in my What does it cost a man to be married to a woman who is basically resentful that she isn't her own person? How much nagging does he endure? NLF: So there's a cost to both? JC: Yes there's a cost to everything and I think that's one of the things that I'm just learning now. It's true we don't have the same rewards. DB: In light of that, it must be terribly frustrating to think that The Dinner Party is going to be in storage for such a long time and not be viewed by women all over the country for almost a year? JC: That's one of the reasons I did the books, because that's another way for women to have it and it's one of the reasons we have a mail order business so that women can buy posters, slides, postcards and have images that don't cost a lot of money. Those are all the efforts that I 've been making for awhile now to try and make images accessible. The needlework book is going to have an incredible amount of draw ings in it, pages and pages of drawings where I took the runners, the images on the runners, and transformed them into drawings on the pages so that a woman might never see The Dinner Party but she'll have the images... The only real alternative images are women's art and of course that art is only now beginning to become available, accessible. Women artists are only beginning now to even think about changing their ideas about audience, that their art is not for just a small group of elitists -there's a whole big audience out there. Even then you come up against all kinds of problems: how do you distribute it? how do you get the capital to distribute it? You know, after The Dinner Party was over, after it went into storage, I went through a lot of months waking up every morning saying, what's the point? I lost my marriage, all my relationships blew up, I had no personal life left, I had no money. I was in debt, the piece wasn't being shown. I got none of the traditional rewards. I went through a lot of days of saying, what's the point? NLF: I was struck by what you said I think in the NY Times about the place in Senneca Falls where ... JC: Oh, the laundromat! Diane Gelon told me about that. It actually started from her being here. Diane, my assistant project coordinator, came here (to Texas) and saw the Alamo and then she went to Senneca Falls, where the 1848 Women's Rights Convention was held. It was a laundromat and she was just real shaken up by it. So that's it-there's all this honor for the Alamo, then in Senneca Falls, which changed all our lives, it's a laundromat. DB: There is a tremendous spiritual quality in your work, and in your writing. And yet, what troubled me was, throughout your writings, you acknowledge the fact that the church, or at least organized religion, hierarchical religion, has really punished women for their creative genius. How do you see this being resolved, or do you? JC: I don't exactly know how to answer that. I got a letter last week from a woman who had seen The Dinner Party, a Jewish woman. She organized a dinner party in her community and they started talking about the fact that Judaism and some of the other religions have been opening up to women and that there have been a number of women who've actually entered the rabbinate and finished, trained as rabbis, but have not been able to act on their training. They haven't been able to conduct services and get posts and it's not only because of discrimination; it's also because they've encountered some incredible terror at the whole process of conducting a religious service. When I was studying all this needlework, I went to a museum and there was this glove, this ecclesiastical glove that had all this ornate embroidery on it, and gems and stuff. Well, I put it on. All of a sudden, I imagined myself completely covered in these garments that hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of human hours had been expended in making. And there I was standing there, and all these hours said; you are above, you are special, you are important, you are holy, you are somebody incredible. That's what all that encrusted stuff is. I can't even tell you what an experience it was! I don't know how to answer your question except to tell you that I think there are women who are trying to participate in patriarchal religions. There are women who are trying to change patriarchal religions. There are women trying to replace patriarchal religion. I think all of that comes out of a lack of a spiritual belief system that we can now embrace. What that will be I'm not sure. I don't think it can be the old forms. We have finally come to a place in history where we're participating in the human dream. The human dream, the life of the spirit, is to infuse life with value, with meaning, to infuse it with something beyond the moment and to find some transcendant substance to life. I don't think organized religion is giving it right now but I certainly think that as feminists that's what we're looking for, some way to recreate that. NLF: Do you see women as leading the way? JC: Of course. Men are just holding the fort. HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH 21 FEBRUARY 1980