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Houston Breakthrough Special Election Issue, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 1978
Page 16
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Houston Breakthrough Special Election Issue, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 1978 - Page 16. April 1978. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. June 4, 2020. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/257/show/239.

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.

(April 1978). Houston Breakthrough Special Election Issue, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 1978 - Page 16. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/257/show/239

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 Special Election Issue, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 1978 - Page 16, April 1978, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed June 4, 2020, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/257/show/239.

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 Special Election Issue, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 1978
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date April 1978
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL 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 UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 16
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File Name femin_201109_539ap.jpg
Transcript The Breakthrough Review the arts • books • dance • film • music artist Roberta Harris: It's all about sharing../' By Anita Davidson To enter the home of Roberta Harris is to step immediately into the world of a working artist. The foyer opens onto a large, well-windowed studio, once the living room of the house that Harris and her ten-year old daughter ("my soul- mate") recently moved into. A tremendous worktable in the center of the studio is laden with the artist's tools, paints, brushes, books, clippings, objects and oddities that naturally accumulate in the midst of creative activity. Wall-to-wall shelves, bench-high and filled with books, underscore the framed and unframed collages, Harris' latest completed works, that line the walls. Sculptures, drawings, paintings and collages by Harris are displayed throughout her home, along with works by friends. The garage has been converted into a second studio where some experimental explorings are going on now. Harris does not, however, expend all of her creative energies on the making of art; she is also Houston's pioneer instructor of women studies courses in art. "I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I started. I accepted the offer to about my own work-look at the great things I'm doing'-that's not what it's about" Harris explains, "it's about sharing. The classes are made up of women who are working at their art; some are just starting and some have been making art for a long time. Their ages, experiences and lifestyles all vary greatly. We have a lot to share, we need each other." "...To learn that there have been others...that their work was important." This is how Kathleen Williamson expresses her reasons for taking a Women In Art course. "The standard art history texts are like reading swashbuckling adventure stories as a child; sooner or later you realize that you are growing up to be a woman and, therefore, can never be a hero; that all the adventure and excitement are not for you. Women In Art helps us regain a sense of possibility. We are doing things; we are part of something important." The first Women In Art course divided time between slides and lectures and discussions with local or visiting artists, filmmakers and writers. As the course progressed and lectures expanded, a second "It's not about competition —it's about sharing; women sharing ideas, skills, dreams, fantiasies, fears, hopes, needs and trust." — Roberta Harris tition-it's about sharing; women sharing ideas, skills, dreams, fantasies, fears, hopes, needs and trust. Trust is perhaps the key. The sharing and trust coupled with an expanded feeling of community is extremely freedom giving." In the late 60s and early 70s, Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro initiated programs and workshops aimed at giving women artists the legitimacy of men artists. "The flow of information, books and articles from those activities created an exciting energy that has continued since then," says Harris, "both of them started very publicly to talk about women's art-$upportively. One of the main ways women can be supportive is to allow other women to come into their studios and to talk—openly talk—about their work, and that is a goddamn supportive thing to do!" Harris says that whenever the class goes to the studio or home of a painter- or a weaver, or a poet-these women talk not only about their achievements but about their frustrations as well. "There has definitely been a genuine warmth, a communion, at each of these meetings," says Harris, "They have been like celebration!" i . Harris' own current works, canvases of swirling pigment, have a celebratory air about them and a lyrical quality that relates to her tall (7 or 8 feet) totems with their multi-hued stacks of layered pigment mixed with sand and roplex. The totems will be shown at the Witte Museum in San Antonio in an exhibit opening May 15. More recent than the totems are the collages. "They really have everything in them," Harris explains, "You see the stick forms that go back to much earlier work, the magic sticks that led to the totems; the binding together of materials I have been using for ten years with dreams, visions, experiences, known and unknown spaces...it's like life itself; a multitude of associations, all different, yet all related somehow." This exploration of the associations and relationships that make up our personal experiences is the main current flowing through Harris' courses. "I don't tell them 'write this down, it's important,' and I don't tell them to do this or that project, to produce. We are all doing what we have to do as artists, and we are sharing it with each other-and with others." Women In Art students are learning not only from women artists of the past, but from each other; a learning process that builds bridges between women artists who often work in physical and/or intellectual isolation. Roberta Harris emphasizes the importance of sharing ideas and experiences, pointing out that if this information were being taught in standard courses, there would be no need for women studies courses. "This is not about separatism, it is about meshing-coming together. It's about the stuff of which our lives are made. I believe this is a time for a very big exchange of information. I don't know if this is true everywhere; but this is what I feel is going on around me." r * teach the course as a challenge. With the exception of contemporary women working in the United States, my own exposure to women in art historically was the same as everyone else's-about zero. I read every book I could find that seemed related to the subject, and decided that in order to provide a clear understanding of women in art now, it is necessary to go far back into history and talk about not only the art that women made, but also the way in which their lives were formed by biology, sociology, politics, religion...I chose the 15th century as a starting place for my lecture series." Roberta Harris smiles warmly, generously. A quiet confidence underlies her infectious enthusiasm as she talks about ^er classes. In the two and a half years ce the Director of Houston's Museum Fine Arts School, Ken Jewesson, asked her to teach a course about women in art, the course has expanded to include Women In Art II, and Harris has also initiated the course at the University of Houston. A lack of preconceived ideas, combined with a willingness to be openly self- exploratory, created a situation in which Harris is more a part of the class than strictly the instructor. She is also learning —seeking answers. "I'm not up there beating my chest course was needed. In Women In Art II the students are primarily concerned with relating to women artists in the community. The class has visited Houston artists from a wide variety of disciplines; painters, Dorothy Hood and the Baroness Tamara de Lempicka, who appears in the April issue of Viva; photographer, Totsie; bookstore owner, Mary Ross Rhyne, who talked about women in literature; gallery owners, Patty Johnson and Katy Nail Rodriguez; welder-sculptor, Gertrude Barnstone, who has recently completed an outdoor piece for St. Thomas University; ceramist, Carol Crow; and Rochella Cooper, who works with fiber. A social structure that demands from the female full responsibility for the home and family imposes an isolation upon women that leaves their needs for communion largely unmet. "She has not been drinking with her friends, socializing and communicating like men have always done even if they had families," Harris says "but that is changing some, I think. Women are getting together more and talking more." Harris does not see the bonding of women artists as a competitive act against "men artists" but as a positive force for improving the working climate of women in the field of art. "It's not about compe- o APRIL 1978 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH 15