Linda Joy Myers, Kate Farrell and Amber Lea Starfire
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“Legacy of the ‘60s and ‘70s and What It Means for Women Today”
by Elise Frances Miller, Winner Second Place, Prose
In the early ‘70s, I was doing just what I wanted to do: teaching three art history and humanities classes and conducting research as a college instructor. I was not happy being “part-time,” underpaid, and with no benefits. I did not consider myself an artist, though I still tried my hand at a variety of media in those days. I admired artists, especially women, who put their work out there in public, sometimes defying a parent or spouse, usually for very little remuneration.
Then I joined an organization called “Women Artists It’s Time” (W.A.I.T). The mission was clear: find ways for female artists’ work to be appreciated and understood on a level commensurate with that of male artists. We had role models from Berthe Morisot to Georgia O’Keefe, Louise Nevelson to Joan Brown, but these pioneers did not have many peers. In the realm of art history, Women Artists: 1550-1950 published in 1976 by Linda Nochlin and Anne Sutherland Harris took academic art history departments and the stuffy College Art Association by storm.
At universities in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, almost no female artists made it into the curriculum. Nochlin and Harris broke the Western, white, male version of art history, and encouraged others, both men and women, to broaden their research for international, ethnic and gender equity in publications.
Our small efforts in W.A.I.T. soon blossomed, not because more women chose to go into art, but because more of them became known. We also celebrated the recognition of women’s “crafts” by art museums. Quilting, weaving, needlework and other handicrafts were accepted as subjects for both historical and current exhibitions.
By the 1970s and ‘80s, I was writing art reviews for major newspapers and magazines. Judy Chicago, Betye Saar, Eleanor Antin and Jennifer Bartlett were just a few of my favorite artists to review. As galleries began to exhibit women’s artwork, I encountered no resistance to featuring them in my articles.
Today there is no lack of women artists. Some of these have made a splash, but as in other fields, the struggle is not behind us. Women still lag behind men both in exposure and remuneration.
As a member of W.A.I.T., I learned that when we band together, boosting our sense of purpose, we push forward, and best of all, we create in diverse fields, guilt-free, with families and all. This personal growth was important to the expansion of social, political and professional roles for women in the 1970s, and in turn, women’s movement activity also enhanced the individual’s journey.
The Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the ‘60s and ‘70s preserves the record of that two-way nourishment in varied circumstances. As this anthology shows so well, in tandem with the political struggles, social experiments, and hard-fought gains that are the legacy for today’s women, there was always the girl becoming a woman, unsure, seeking strength through collaboration, building the story one scene at a time. Since our era, as never before, that has been the way it is done.
Elise Frances Miller’s novel, A Time to Cast Away Stones (Sand Hill Review Press, June, 2012), is set in 1968 Berkeley and Paris. With degrees from UC Berkeley and UCLA, Elise began writing about arts for the Los Angeles Times, Art News and San Diego Magazine. She taught high school and college humanities, and served as communications director at San Diego State University and Stanford. Her short stories have appeared in The Sand Hill Review (fiction editor, 2008), Fault Zone: Stepping Up to the Edge, and online. Her novel and its historical background are described at http://www.elisefmiller.com.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Just in time for the holidays, Linda Joy Myers, Kate Farrell and Amber Lea Starfire launch their anthology Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the ’60s and ’70s. The book is the perfect gift for opening discussions with friends and family members and illustrating what a powerful time the ’60s and ’70s truly were.
Forty-eight powerful stories and poems etch in vivid detail breakthrough moments experienced by women during the life-changing era that was the ’60s and ’70s. These women rode the sexual revolution with newfound freedom, struggled for identity in divorce courts and boardrooms, and took political action in street marches. They pushed through the boundaries, trampled the taboos, and felt the pain and joy of new experiences. And finally, here, they tell it like it was.
Through this collection of women’s stories, we celebrate the women of the ’60s and ’70s and the importance of their legacy.
Paperback: 354 pages
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: Sept. 8, 2013
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