The issue of diversity at the Woman's Building is a complex one. However, it would be incorrect to imagine that there were no women of color involved in the organization. While uneven source material makes it impossible to document all the events by or about women of color, anecdotal evidence does exist that testifies to the wide range of activities that occurred.
In 1976, the first major show of Latina art occurred at the Woman's Building. Venas de la Mujer [A Woman's Veins] by Las Chicanas, a collaborative art group that consisted of Judy Baca, Isabel Castro, Judith Hernández, Olga Muñacoz, and Josefina Quesada, created a multimedia installation that explored the role of the history of the Chicana.
Throughout its history, the Woman's Building hosted many nationally prominent feminist authors. In October of 1976, Alice Walker appeared at the Building as part of In the Name of All Women, a series of readings by women writers that included Judy Grahn, Audre Lorde, Diane Di Pima and Woman's Building member Deena Metzger.
In March of 1980, graphic artist Linda Vallejo offered a lecture about her work along with Teresa Vasquez Woodward (Document 22A). Vallejo continued her involvement with the Woman's Building in subsequent years. In 1981 and 1983 she led workshops for Latinas at the Woman's Building. In 1983, she led the first commemoration of Dia de Los Muertos (see Document 22C).
Poet Mitsuye Yamada was instrumental in the Woman's Building's efforts to reach the Asian American community. In 1980 she helped organize a series of events featuring Asian-American women authors.
In 1981, Varnette Honeywood, a young African American woman, was an artist-in-residence at the Woman's Building. Although she spent much of her residency outside the physical space of the Building, she organized a celebration of Black History Month at the Woman's Building in February 1981 (see Document 22B).
In 1979, the first of many exhibitions entitled Cross Pollination occurred at the Woman's Building. In 1982, the Woman's Building was invited to curate an exhibition for the Bridge Gallery at Los Angeles City Hall and chose to use the same name, "Cross Pollination." The fourth of this commissioned series occurred in 1986. This exhibition, juried by Sheila de Bretteville and Betye Saar, included twenty artists commissioned to create posters about the theme of cultural diversity. An added feature of this exhibition was the distribution plan for the posters. Eighty complete sets were given to artistic and community organizations to increase awareness about diversity.
One of the largest exhibitions at the end of the Woman's Building's history was the 1990 commemoration of El Dia de Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) (Document 22C). The Woman's Building hosted a fiesta complete with three-piece norteño band, a Mexican banquet, and altars where members of the audience could participate by offering a memorial to their loved ones. Approximately 300 people attended the opening and around 1,000 viewed the exhibition during its six-week run. Although the group had hoped to produce bilingual brochures and a bilingual videotape, they were unable to raise the funds. Instead, in March 1991, the Woman's Building sponsored Espejo Voz, a bilingual reading of the works of fifteen Latina writers.
Flyer advertising Work/Lives in the Graphic Arts, March 1980. The transcription of the text in the flyer is below.
Work/Lives in the Graphic Arts:
Linda Vallejo and Teresa Vasquez Woodward
This spring, the Women's Graphic Center Lecture Series presents an evening with designer-illustrator Teresa Vasquez Woodward and graphic artist Linda Vallejo. Come meet these Latina women who are active and accomplished in the graphic arts, see their work, and hear the discussion of their differences and similarities in the way they produce their work and arrange their lives.
Wednesday, March 26, 7 p.m.
Linda Vallejo is a printmaker currently on staff at Self-Help Graphics and Art, Inc. as the silkscreen director and Bi-Lingual and Multi-Cultural Art Education Consultant. Her work is rich with her cultural heritage.
Linda Vallejo describes herself/her work:
Printmaking is a very physical art. I am constantly dirty. My hands are scarred and tinted with ink. I am constantly lifting heavy, cumbersome equipment. It is like climbing. I love physical endeavors.
My prints are monotypes, using lithographic or silkscreen techniques. I never plan the monotype or complete preliminary drawings or sketches. I simply move and allow the years of practice in printmaking and sculpture to take over and make the piece.
My sculpture is very fragile—simply paper, silicon, papier mache, wire. It reminds me of body and spirit.
My latest sculptures are called "amoebas." They are like small intricate cells or a human life or an entire planet. They may float in the ocean as small glowing fish or they may be stars a million miles away.
All of my pieces allow me to travel into the land of my culture and learn about myself. I have learned about my culture through my studies of the pyramids of Mexico (and of Egypt), and by my completion of my own pyramid pieces. The pyramid is again like that road in life. You simply climb, using your tools and wisdom and hope to experience the completion of your task. They pyramid in ancient cultures was seen as the symbol of the universe, of life. Each one of us is a pyramid, emitting energy and force, exploding with creativity.
I enjoy mixed media pieces and am always on the lookout for new media and materials. I dye my own paper or create a batik surface by using a matte media stopout. I use textile dyes and arches paper and occasionally welsh wool. Some of my pieces are more complete than others.
Teresa Vasquez Woodward is a designer and illustrator whose work has been utilized for brochures, television, films, posters, toys, books, package design and environmental graphics.
Teresa Vasquez Woodward was born in San Diego, Ca., but grew up in Northern California where she studied painting under Wayne Thiebaud. She later attended Chouinard Art Institute, the Art Center College of Design, UCLA and USC.
Her design and illustrations have been featured in Graphis Magazine (published in Switzerland), Communication Arts Magazine (CA), Idea Magazine and Vision Magazine (both published in Japan) and AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Art) in New York.
Teresa has received numerous awards from various shows and exhibits both in New York and Los Angeles and has served on numerous juries throughout the country, including for the National Endowment for the Arts, based in Washington, D.C.
She has taught illustration at the Art Center, California State University at Long Beach and presently teaches at California State University at Northridge.
Teresa is divorced and lives with her 15-year-old son Scott, a Siberian Husky, a 20-pound Siamese cat, and at last count, 15 goldfish, on the coastal area of Los Angeles.
Price: $2.00 members, $3.00 non-members. No woman will be turned away for inability to pay.
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