During her highly prolific career which spanned many decades, Miriam Schapiro, enjoyed a pivotal role in both the Feminist Art Movement and the corresponding style known as Pattern and Decoration. Schapiro's work speaks to the role of women in art. She has paved the way for younger women artists in the highly competitive art market.
Throughout her career, Schapiro honored overlooked female artists and pioneered a renewed interest in feminine art themes. In the 1960s, her career work spanned from tableaus and self-focused shrine pieces to her well-known quilt and collage (a.k.a., "femmages"). These pieces inspired the Pattern and Decoration art works in the 1970s. These works and those of her colleagues, Joyce Kozloff and Judy Chicago, have come to define the 1970s and Feminist Art in American art history. Schapiro's recent art recall earlier compositions yet are decidedly more autobiographical in nature.
Women’s Movement of the 1970s
For example, In the Land of Ooo Blah Dee from 1993, is a seminal and autobiographical work on paper. This work shows the culmination of many of Schapiro's artistic ideas.
The graphic elements of the work reference domesticity and the tradition of handcrafts and female artisans. The fan form is a nod to contemporary fashion of the era from the reign of Queen Victoria through the rise of the Suffragettes. The graphic forms are both biomorphic and abstract and remind the viewer of household elements: scraps of fabric, quilts, photo albums or paper collages. These visuals are consistent with the artist's interest in translating women's traditional homemaking role into art. Hearts, fans, waves, and houses permeate many of Schapiro's pieces. The artist views these images as decorative, feminine and politically-charged symbols. These "femmage" compositions derived from the history of collage and the Feminist Art Movement.
A teacher at the California Institute of Arts, Schapiro established her position in the arts and pushed the boundaries of fine art. Her pieces are held by major museums worldwide including the National Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
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