Miriam Schapiro’s Visit: Part Two

Posted by: Cynthia Ann Bickley Green, PhD

Upon the Occasion of Miriam Schapiro’s Visit to the School of Art Of East Carolina University: Evidence of Change

Miriam Schapiro is a Canadian-born artist based in America. She is a painter, sculptor and printmaker as well as a pioneer of feminist art and is considered a leader of the Pattern and Decoration art movement. 

Miriam Schapiro’s visit to the School of Art at East Carolina University in 1999 was a significant event for many of the faculty and students who attended her lecture and studio critiques.  Older faculty members who were professionally engaged in teaching and creating during the 1970s were moved to recall their memory of Schapiro and her work from the past meetings and exhibits and compare it to the present.  Younger persons reflected upon their own creative stances and their orientation to the past, present, and future.  The writing and thoughtful reflections of the five artists who have collaborated with me give glimpses into the thoughts that were provoked by the visit of a leading woman artist of the last half of the 20th century to the university.  The views of the writers reveal the multifaceted experiences and thoughts that can be generated by one speaker and how these different views add texture and subtlety to a shared event and knowledge about the person who generated the comments.

One of the artists who collaborated was Sally Lewis, Student in Art Education and Painting, School of Art.
“When I heard of Miriam Schapiro’s coming visit to the School of Art, I was excited about having the opportunity to hear from such a well-known and accomplished female artist.  Though I knew not what to expect, the impression she made upon me was powerful.  She was authoritative in her speech and obdurately persistent in her ideals.   I cannot say that I was in agreement with all of her stances and ideas, but as a graduate student in the School of Art, and, more importantly, as a woman, I welcomed her challenges.  More specifically, I found her ardent denial of the prevailing Western belief–that an artist is a kind of genius who is unique in his or her vision and must attempt to reveal this vision while in isolation from cultural influences–very attractive.  Reality contradicts this concept, and in truth, most all well-known artists have been interconnected with the lives and ideas of their contemporaries.  She emphasized this idea of collaboration between artists as necessary in both her lecture and in the discussion that she held the following day with members of the Painting Guild.  Art is closer to anything else to true permanence, and Miriam Schapiro made this point very clear:  that is we unite together as women artists, we might feed our power of influence at the brink of this new millennium.”

Image courtesy of Wikiart: Visual Art Encyclopedia

The above is an excerpt from an article with the same title.


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