Issue 35 February 2024

Issue 34 November 2023

Issue 33 August 2023

Issue 32 June 2023

Issue 31 February 2023

Issue 30 November 2022

Issue 29 August 2022

Issue 28 May 2022

Issue 27 February 2022

Issue 26 November 2021

Issue 25 August 2021

Issue 24 May 2021

Issue 23 February 2021

Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
Parasites in Love –Travis Diehl
To Crush Absolute On Patrick Staff and
Destroying the Institution
–Jonathan Griffin
Victoria Fu:
Camera Obscured
–Cat Kron
Resurgence of Resistance How Pattern & Decoration's Popularity
Can Help Reshape the Canon
–Catherine Wagley
Trace, Place, Politics Julie Mehretu's Coded Abstractions
–Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.: Featuring: Friedrich Kunath,
Tristan Unrau, and Nevine Mahmoud
–Claressinka Anderson & Joe Pugliese
Reviews April Street
at Vielmetter Los Angeles
–Aaron Horst

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Mike Kelley
at Hauser & Wirth
–Angella d’Avignon
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Issue 18 November 2019

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
The Briar and the Tar Nayland Blake at the ICA LA
and Matthew Marks Gallery
–Travis Diehl
Putting Aesthetics
to Hope
Tracking Photography’s Role
in Feminist Communities
– Catherine Wagley
Instagram STARtists
and Bad Painting
– Anna Elise Johnson
Interview with Jamillah James – Lindsay Preston Zappas
Working Artists Featuring Catherine Fairbanks,
Paul Pescador, and Rachel Mason
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Children of the Sun
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
–Aaron Horst

Karl Holmqvist
at House of Gaga, Los Angeles
–Lee Purvey

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

Jeanette Mundt
at Overduin & Co.
–Matt Stromberg
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Issue 17 August 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Green Chip David Hammons
at Hauser & Wirth
–Travis Diehl
Whatever Gets You
Through the Night
The Artists of Dilexi
and Wartime Trauma
–Jonathan Griffin
Generous Collectors How the Grinsteins
Supported Artists
–Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Donna Huanca
–Lindsy Preston Zappas
Working Artist Featuring Ragen Moss, Justen LeRoy,
and Bari Ziperstein
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Sarah Lucas
at the Hammer Museum
–Yxta Maya Murray

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
–Julie Weitz

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Alex Israel
at Greene Naftali
–Rosa Tyhurst

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Issue 16 May 2019

Trulee Hall's Untamed Magic Catherine Wagley
Ingredients for a Braver Art Scene Ceci Moss
I Shit on Your Graves Travis Diehl
Interview with Ruby Neri Jonathan Griffin
Carolee Schneemann and the Art of Saying Yes! Chelsea Beck
Exquisite L.A. Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Ry Rocklen
at Honor Fraser
–Cat Kron

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age
of Black Power, 1963-1983
at The Broad
–Matt Stromberg

Anna Sew Hoy & Diedrick Brackens
at Various Small Fires
–Aaron Horst

Julia Haft-Candell & Suzan Frecon
at Parrasch Heijnen
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Shahryar Nashat
at Swiss Institute
–Christie Hayden
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Issue 15 February 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor
Men on Women
Geena Brown
Eyes Without a Voice
Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto
Christina Catherine Martinez
Seven Minute Dream Machine
Jordan Wolfson's (Female figure)
Travis Diehl
Laughing in Private
Vanessa Place's Rape Jokes
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Rosha Yaghmai
Laura Brown
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Patrick Martinez,
Ramiro Gomez, and John Valadez
Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Outliers and American
Vanguard Art at LACMA
–Jonathan Griffin

Sperm Cult
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Matt Paweski
at Park View / Paul Soto
–John Zane Zappas

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Catherine Opie
at Lehmann Maupin
–Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 14 November 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Figurative Religion Catherine Wagley
Lynch in Traffic Travis Diehl
The Remixed Symbology of Nina Chanel Abney Lindsay Preston Zappas
Interview with Kulapat Yantrasast Christie Hayden
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Sandra de la Loza, Gloria Galvez, and Steve Wong
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews Raúl de Nieves
at Freedman Fitzpatrick
-Aaron Horst

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Eckhaus Latta
at the Whitney Museum
of American Art
-Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 13 August 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor Julie Weitz with Angella d'Avignon
Don't Make
Everything Boring
Catherine Wagley
The Collaborative Art
World of Norm Laich
Matt Stromberg
Oddly Satisfying Art Travis Diehl
Made in L.A. 2018 Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Jennifer Remenchik
Aaron Horst
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Anna Sew Hoy, Guadalupe Rosales, and Shizu Saldamando
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews It's Snowing in LA
at AA|LA
–Matthew Lax

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

Show 2
at The Gallery @ Michael's
–Simone Krug

Deborah Roberts
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
–Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Math Bass
at Mary Boone
–Ashton Cooper

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Condo New York
–Laura Brown
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Issue 12 May 2018

Poetic Energies and
Radical Celebrations:
Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger
Simone Krug
Interior States of the Art Travis Diehl
Perennial Bloom:
Florals in Feminism
and Across L.A.
Angella d'Avignon
The Mess We're In Catherine Wagley
Interview with Christina Quarles Ashton Cooper
Object Project
Featuring Suné Woods, Michelle Dizon,
and Yong Soon Min
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Meleko Mokgosi
at The Fowler Museum at UCLA
-Jessica Simmons

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

iris yirei hsu
at the Women's Center
for Creative Work
- Hana Cohn

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

Reena Spaulings
at Matthew Marks
- Thomas Duncan
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Issue 11 February 2018

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Museum as Selfie Station Matt Stromberg
Accessible as Humanly as Possible Catherine Wagley
On Laura Owens on Laura Owens Travis Diehl
Interview with Puppies Puppies Jonathan Griffin
Object Project Lindsay Preston Zappas, Jeff McLane
Reviews Dulce Dientes
at Rainbow in Spanish
- Aaron Horst

Adrián Villas Rojas
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
- Lindsay Preston Zappas

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960- 1985
at the Hammer Museum
- Thomas Duncan

Hannah Greely and William T. Wiley
at Parker Gallery
- Keith J. Varadi

David Hockney
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.A. in N.Y.)
- Ashton Cooper

Edgar Arceneaux
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (L.A. in S.F.)
- Hana Cohn
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Issue 10 November 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Barely Living with Art:
The Labor of Domestic
Spaces in Los Angeles
Eli Diner
She Wanted Adventure:
Dwan, Butler, Mizuno, Copley
Catherine Wagley
The Languages of
All-Women Exhibitions
Lindsay Preston Zappas
L.A. Povera Travis Diehl
On Eclipses:
When Language
and Photography Fail
Jessica Simmons
Interview with
Hamza Walker
Julie Wietz
Object Project
Featuring: Rosha Yaghmai,
Dianna Molzan, and Patrick Jackson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McLane
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Regen Projects
Ibid Gallery
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and MOCA PDC
The Mistake Room
Luis De Jesus Gallery
the University Art Gallery at CSULB
the Autry Museum
Reviews Cheyenne Julien
at Smart Objects

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

Trigger: Gender as a Tool as a Weapon
at the New Museum
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 9 August 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women on the Plinth Catherine Wagley
Us & Them, Now & Then:
Reconstituting Group Material
Travis Diehl
The Offerings of EJ Hill
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Interview with Jenni Sorkin Carmen Winant
Object Project
Featuring: Rebecca Morris,
Linda Stark, Alex Olson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McClane
Reviews Mark Bradford
at the Venice Biennale

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects


Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
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Issue 8 May 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures:
Alice Könitz and LAMOA
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Penny Slinger
Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Alessandro Pessoli
at Marc Foxx

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter to the Editor
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Issue 7 February 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature
at The Broad

Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler
at House of Gaga // Reena Spaulings Fine Art

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
at the Landing
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Issue 6 November 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

The Weeping Line
Organized by Alter Space
at Four Six One Nine
(S.F. in L.A.)
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Issue 5 August 2016

Letter form the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Revolution in the Making
at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

Performing the Grid
at Ben Maltz Gallery
at Otis College of Art & Design

Laura Owens
at The Wattis Institute
(L.A. in S.F.)
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Issue 4 May 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue
at The Mistake Room

Carter Mull
at fused space
(L.A. in S.F.)

Awol Erizku
at FLAG Art Foundation
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 3 February 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Share Your Piece
of the Puzzle
Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Honeydew
at Michael Thibault

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
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Issue 2 November 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings:
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food:
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee:
William Pope.L’s "Reenactor"
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

No Joke
at Tanya Leighton
(L.A. in Berlin)
Snap Reviews Martin Basher at Anat Ebgi
Body Parts I-V at ASHES ASHES
Eve Fowler at Mier Gallery
Matt Siegle at Park View
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Issue 1 August 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
Mateo Tannatt
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

Unwatchable Scenes and
Other Unreliable Images...
at Public Fiction

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

Henry Taylor
at Blum & Poe/ Untitled
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
1301 PE
Anat Ebgi (La Cienega)
Anat Ebgi (Wilshire)
Arcana Books
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Babst Gallery
Baert Gallery
Bel Ami
Canary Test
Carlye Packer
Charlie James Gallery
Château Shatto
Chris Sharp Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Clay ca
Commonwealth & Council
Craft Contemporary
D2 Art (Inglewood)
D2 Art (Westwood)
David Kordansky Gallery
David Zwirner
Diane Rosenstein
François Ghebaly
Gana Art Los Angeles
George Billis Gallery
Giovanni's Room
Hamzianpour & Kia
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Harper's Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Heavy Manners Library
Helen J Gallery
Human Resources
Hunter Shaw Fine Art
in lieu
LaPau Gallery
Lisson Gallery
Lowell Ryan Projects
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Make Room Los Angeles
Matter Studio Gallery
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Morán Morán
Moskowitz Bayse
Nazarian / Curcio
Night Gallery
Nino Mier Gallery
NOON Projects
O-Town House
One Trick Pony
Paradise Framing
Park View / Paul Soto
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
Regen Projects
Reparations Club
r d f a
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater)
Roberts Projects
Royale Projects
Sean Kelly
Sebastian Gladstone
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Smart Objects
Steve Turner
Stroll Garden
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The Box
The Fulcrum
The Hole
The Landing
The Poetic Research Bureau
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
Tierra del Sol Gallery
Tiger Strikes Astroid
Tomorrow Today
Track 16
Tyler Park Presents
USC Fisher Museum of Art
UTA Artist Space
Various Small Fires
Village Well Books & Coffee
Outside L.A.
Libraries/ Collections
Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Bard College, CCS Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
University of California Irvine, Langston IMCA (Irvine, CA)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

In Formation:
How Early SoCal Feminist Artists Forged their Identities through Collaborative Practice

Leer en Español

Judy Chicago, Smoke Bodies (1972) from Women and Smoke (2018). Archival pigment print featuring Faith Wilding, Cheryl Zurilgen, and Chris Rush; 40.5 x 40.5 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Anat Ebgi. Photo: Mason Kuehler.

In their 1974 performance piece Please Sing Along, artists Nancy Buchanan and Barbara T. Smith donned white martial arts robes and engaged in what would best be described as hand-to-hand combat. Although just minutes long, the performance was a tense tussle punctuated by shoving, kicking, tumbling on the ground, punches to the back, screams of aggression, an attempted choking, and one particularly nasty slap. After the fight ended, leaving both women exhausted and in repose on the mat, they stood and engaged in a tender kiss and embrace before going their separate ways. Staged at the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles, the performance seemed to dramatize the ongoing, difficult task of forming oneself as a person, an artist, and a feminist—the collaborative labor of self-actualization. 

Please Sing Along is currently on view as part of the exhibition how we are in time and space: Nancy Buchanan, Marcia Hafif, Barbara T. Smith at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena. Curated by Michael Ned Holte, the exhibition is organized around the friendship between the three artists, whom all attended UC Irvine in 1969 (the very first year of its MFA program), and includes early pieces as well as works from across the artists’ careers. Buchanan, Hafif, and Smith are certainly associated with West Coast feminist art, but in a different way than Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro who, in the same years, brought the Feminist Art Program to another newly opened SoCal art school—CalArts. Coincidentally, the work generated in the CalArts program was on view simultaneously this spring in WOMANHOUSE at Anat Ebgi gallery, an exhibition that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the landmark exhibition/environment staged by Chicago, Schapiro, their students, and women artists from the community in 1972. 

These two concurrent exhibitions on West Coast feminism provide an opportunity to think about a moment in the early 1970s in which the theorization and practice of “feminist art” were still very much in formation, as were the participating women, most of whom were in their twenties. These two shows and the practices on view therein call attention to the fact that the formation of the self is very much a social practice—an idea that is also a cornerstone of feminist thought. Looking at this history of nascent West Coast feminist art, at what these women made because of the communities that they had with each other, offers an important lesson: personal and political self-formation is collaborative labor, it is difficult and tender, and it is a lifelong process. 

Art historian Jenni Sorkin has contrasted the “utopian communalism” of the Woman’s Building with “the rigorous individualism simultaneously promoted by CalArts.” She writes, “[A]t the Woman’s Building, … being a feminist artist was about something other than being an artist: it was, first and foremost, about being a fully formed person, who was able to come to terms with the suffering and/or injustice she had previously experienced in her girlhood, her family, her community of origin. It meant participating in a community of like-minded women.”1 In the late 1960s and early 1970s, feminist political self-consciousness was a deeply personal experience that was shaped by the pedagogical communities one worked within (whether a consciousness-raising group, the Woman’s Building, art school, a DIY space, etc.). Developing as they did within diverse contexts and within differently situated groups of women, feminist consciousness and feminist art were never monolithic entities. WOMANHOUSE and how we are presented overlapping but distinct networks of women artists who had and have different approaches to “feminist art” and varying degrees of allegiance to feminism. 

In the introduction to the original Womanhouse exhibition catalog, Chicago and Schapiro conceptualized the project as a kind of feminist pragmatism—self-consciousness by doing. They chose to embark on Womanhouse with their students to start the academic year with “a large-scale collaborative project, rather than with the extended consciousness-raising sessions that had been held when the Program was in Fresno.” They describe how their previous students had to spend “a lot of time talking about their problems as women” before they were able to begin making work. Here, they hoped that these conversations might occur while the women engaged in making. “Female art students often approach artmaking with a personality structure conditioned by an unwillingness to push themselves beyond their limits; a lack of familiarity with tools and artmaking processes; an inability to see themselves as working people; and a general lack of assertiveness and ambition,” they wrote. “The aim of the Feminist Art Program is to help women restructure their personalities to be more consistent with their desires to be artists and to help them build their artmaking out of their experiences as women.”2 In their conception of feminist artmaking, personal and political understanding are inextricably intertwined—and both can be reached through the process of making art.

Although not really part of Chicago’s circle, Smith and Buchanan did become members of the Woman’s Building in 1974 (the Woman’s Building in many ways grew out of the Womanhouse experiment). Still, in a 2022 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Smith explained: “I did not, and do not, consider myself a feminist. My work has feminist importance. I just think of myself as a feminist artist.”3 I understand Smith to mean that she didn’t formally join any organizations advocating for women’s liberation, but she did understand her works to function with a feminist politics —and that this politicality could exceed the sites of women’s spaces. For instance, Buchanan and Smith both staged feminism-inflected performances at F Space Gallery, the experimental warehouse cooperative they co-founded with Chris Burden and nine other classmates from UC Irvine. Smith and Buchanan’s self-formation happened within these communities too—and their work speaks to this fact.

how we are includes a vitrine with documentation and ephemera from Smith’s 1975 performance A Week in the Life Of…, for which she auctioned off parcels of her time, at first to literal bidders at a fundraiser for a Pasadena arts co-op and then later through other agreements. The piece lasted a year. Artist Rachel Rosenthal, for example, paid to exchange letters with Smith. In this work, Smith’s “self” was not presented as some stable thing emerging from a private core, but as a complex, ever-changing entity formed through interpersonal exchange. A wall text beside the vitrine quotes Smith’s description of her performances as “works that have engaged me on a deeply felt level, often excruciating, sometimes ecstatic. … [focused on my] own inner growth rather than works intended to entertain an audience.” Smith’s description echoes the idea of becoming through making that also defined the Womanhouse project.

Besides the white communities of women artists on view in WOMANHOUSE and how we are, there were also important exhibitions and communities of women of color in formation at the same time, whose histories trouble the white canon of feminist art in Southern California. Even before the founding of the Feminist Art Program or the Woman’s Building, Black women artists were forming community and making efforts to show their work. In July of 1970, artist Suzanne Jackson staged L.A.’s first exhibition of Black women artists in an exhibition called Sapphire Show at Gallery 32—a space that she ran out of her loft. Six artists participated: Gloria Bohanon, Betye Saar, Senga Nengudi, Yvonne Cole Meo, Eileen Nelson, and Jackson herself. The recent Ebgi show seemed to make a quiet nod to this history by including a 1966 lithograph by Saar and two 1990 mixed-media pieces by Bohanon in their show, even though neither artist was affiliated with Womanhouse (though Saar did co-curate Bohanon’s work in the 1973 show Black Mirror at Womanspace, which was part of the Woman’s Building). Sapphire Show was conceived after only one female artist was included in a show of Black artists at the Los Angeles headquarters of the evaporated milk company Carnation in 1970. Jackson was just 26 years old when she mounted the exhibition, and the other participants were also women who were still finding their footing in an art world that systematically excluded them. These women forged their political consciousnesses and their art careers simultaneously. In a 2021 interview with the New York Times, Jackson remarked: “We’re still a kind of family. The ‘Sapphire Show’ was our beginning and our impetus.”4

The diverse formal approaches of the aforementioned artists demonstrate that West Coast feminist art cannot be reduced to a simplistic illustration of “female imagery,” as Chicago and Schapiro’s classic 1973 essay on central core imagery was titled.5 In much of the 1980s and 1990s scholarship on feminist art, critics and historians identified a divide between West Coast feminism (labeled essentialist) and an anti-essentialist strain of theory and practice emergent from London and New York. Scholars contrasted the early feminist art of the 1970s, which employed vaginal symbols, goddess imagery, body art, and women’s work practices with a second generation of 1980s feminist artists who used deconstructionist, postmodern, and conceptual techniques. At first glance, WOMANHOUSE and how we are could seem to fall on either side of such a stylistic and methodological divide, but seeing these two exhibitions together weakens the binary of cunt art and conceptual art (a divide that numerous feminist art historians have contested in the past 25 years). Seeing WOMANHOUSE and how we are together makes evident that cunts are conceptual and conceptual art can be cunty. In tandem, the shows provide nuance to our existing notions of early West Coast feminist art and the forms that it took.

WOMANHOUSE and how we are, for example, both contain works that reference a central core. The WOMANHOUSE show is full of cunts, frills, goddesses, and female archetypes. Karen LeCocq’s Feather Cunt (1971) is a tactile little parcel made of burgundy velvet and pink feathers that rests gingerly atop a blush doily. The art in how we are is less pink and more engaged with the methods of conceptual art, but it nevertheless also explores vaginal imagery. Buchanan’s Twin Corners (1975) is a triangular pile of metal shavings and debris heaped in a corner (not unlike Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled” candy sculptures made 15 years later) and paired with a photograph of her upside-down bush lodged in the corner of a room—the bristly, three-cornered form represented in two media. Whether employing feathers or metal shavings, both groups of women were coming to terms with feminist ideas (such as reclaiming and celebrating images of the female form) through their work and the art communities in which they participated; self-formation and self-understanding were a communal endeavor.

Works in both shows indicate that the use of the body in early feminist art was not simply a de-contextualized signifier of the vagina. Embodiment was understood conceptually as imbricated with the social world. In her 1976 book From the Center, Lucy Lippard identified the body and autobiography as hallmarks of feminist art practice. In these shows, the embodied and the autobiographical do not pertain to an individual laboring alone but to the formation of the self in a sociopolitical context. 

In a mail art piece titled Sympathetic Magic (1972), Buchanan sent personal ephemera from her archive (including a photograph of her maternal grandmother, a grammar or secondary school report card, a letter from an old boyfriend, a page from her diary, and a canceled check) to people she had never met, but who were recommended to her by friends. Marcia Hafif suggested Frank Bowling, Barbara T. Smith suggested Shirley Shivers, and Chris Burden suggested Tom Marioni. Buchanan’s self is shown to be formed through interactions with family, schooling, romantic partners, and all of the social networks signaled by the people who helped facilitate the piece in the first place, her identity a collectively produced series of scattered fragments—a complex entity that emerges through exchange. Sympathetic Magic, along with the other feminist works on view in these two shows, demonstrates a key component of feminist practice: discoveries about selfhood take place within a collaborative ethos and the labor of self-consciousness happens within friendships.

This essay was originally published in Carla issue 28. 

WOMANHOUSE (installation view) (2022). Image courtesy of the artists and Anat Ebgi. Photo: Matthew Kroening.

Nancy Buchanan, Twin Corners, (installation view) (1975). Metal sculpture and photograph. Image courtesy of the artist and Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Ian Byers-Gamber, courtesy of the Armory Center for the Arts.

  1. Jenni Sorkin, “Learning from Los Angeles: Pedagogical Predecessors at the Woman’s Building,” in Doin’ It in Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman’s Building, 1973–1991, eds. Meg Linton, Sue Maberry, and Elizabeth Pulsinelli (Los Angeles: Otis College of Art & Design, 2011), 36–64.
  2. Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro, “Womanhouse” in Womanhouse (Valencia, CA: Feminist Art Program, California Institute of the Arts, 1972), unpaginated.
  3. Deborah Vankin, “Seminal SoCal artists Nancy Buchanan and Barbara T. Smith reflect on 50 years of art and friendship,” Los Angeles Times, January 28, 2022,
  4. Ted Loos, “A Rare Spotlight on Black Women’s Art Still Shines After 51 Years,” The New York Times, June 15, 2021,
  5. Miriam Schapiro and Judy Chicago, “Female Imagery,” Womanspace Journal (Summer 1973): 11–14.

Ashton Cooper is a writer, curator, and PhD candidate in the Department of Art History at the University of Southern California.

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