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July 12: The Feminist Art Activist

July 11, 2015

arlene_ravenArlene Raven (Rubin), co-founder of the Feminist Studio Workshop (1973) and the Center for Feminist Art Historical Studies, both in Los Angeles, was born in Baltimore on this date in 1944. Raven also co-founded and edited Chrysalis, a feminist cultural magazine, and was a founding member of The Lesbian Art Project and the Women’s Caucus for Art. She served in the 1980s as the chief art critic for New York’s Village Voice, taught in several universities, curated ten shows of women’s art at major museums, and wrote or edited nine books, all the while striving to create institutional and cultural space for women, feminist, and lesbian artists. Raven held a doctorate in art history from Johns Hopkins University, and was critic in residence at the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, which established an art history scholarship in her name. She died at 62.

Raven “helped transform feminist outrage into the Woman’s Building, an iconoclastic Los Angeles institution that for 18 years was a magnet for women seeking to produce art on their own terms. For most of its existence, the Woman’s Building was a source of often outlandish creativity, where painters, poets, performance artists and others turned out work on subjects as mundane as waitressing and as disturbing as rape.” —Elaine Woo, Los Angeles Times