Miriam Schapiro, painter, sculptor, collage maker, and printmaker, was born in Toronto, Canada in 1923. She received her BA in 1945, MA in 1946, and MFA in 1949 at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. She was known as a leader in the Feminist Art and Pattern and Decoration movements. Miriam Schapiro passed away in 2015.
She received many honors and awards including the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the John Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and the Rockefeller Foundation Grant for Artists Residency at the Bellagio Study and Conference Center. She was honored by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the National Women's Caucus for Art, and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the College Art Association.
Her work appears in numerous museum collections in the United States, Germany, Australia and Israel including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of American Art, and many others. Schapiro was honored with painting retrospectives, a thirty-year work on paper retrospective, numerous one-person exhibitions, and has been included in hundreds of group exhibitions throughout the world.
Miriam Schapiro Archives on Women Artists is a rich resource of primary sources focusing on women artists. It forms a sub-collection of the Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries. The collections document women artists and artist organizations in the United States, primarily from 1945 to the present. It also includes a few collections documenting international women artists from earlier periods.
The collections can be accessed at the Special Collections and University Archives (SC/UA), Archibald S. Alexander Library during SC/UA hours. Some collections require advanced notice to use. Included in this guide are short descriptions of each collection.
Special thanks go to interns Felicia Siegel, Adriana Kuzyszyn, Sarah Brown, and Janice Hussain for their work on this guide
Collection development is ongoing and this guide will be periodically updated.
The Miriam Schapiro Archives on Women Artists was founded in 2006 by the Rutgers Institute for Women and Art (IWA) in partnership with the Rutgers University Libraries (RUL). The Rutgers University Libraries had, however, long before then begun collecting the personal papers of women artists and women's art organizations active in the United States in the second-half of the twentieth century. In the mid-1980s, librarians at RUL, including Françoise Puniello, then director of the Mabel Smith Douglass Library, and Ruth J. Simmons and Ronald L. Becker of Special Collections and University Archives (SC/UA), collaborated with Dr. Ferris Olin, then executive director of the Institute of Research on Women at Rutgers, to develop the holdings of RUL in this area. Early notable acquisitions included the records of the Women's Caucus for Art, the New York Feminist Art Institute, the Lucy Lippard Women’s Art Registry, and Heresies Collective, Inc.
In 2000, Ferris Olin became the founding director of the Margery Somers Foster Center at the Douglass Library. As part of the Center’s focus on women’s scholarship and leadership, Olin continued to work with curators at SC/UA to acquire, organize, and publicize archival collections documenting women's leadership in the arts. An important acquisition from this period was the archives of the National Association of Women Artists, which had donated its art collection to the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers in 1992. From 1994, Olin served as co-curator of the Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series at the Douglass Library. Founded in 1971, this series is the oldest continuous exhibition program dedicated to showing the work of women artists. The presence of the series on campus contributed to the growing identity of Rutgers as a locus of research, documentation, and programming on women in the visual arts. The records of the series are now part of the Miriam Schapiro Archives.
In 2006, Ferris Olin and Judith K. Brodsky, Professor Emerita at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, were appointed as founding director of the Rutgers Institute for Women and Art, now named the Center for Women in the Arts and Humanities. Among the programs they established (with Judy Chicago, Susan Fisher Sterling and Arlene Raven) was The Feminist Art Project (TFAP), an international collaborative initiative celebrating the feminist art movement through providing opportunities for networking and shared publicity. It was at TFAP’s inaugural event in January 2006 that Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian Marianne Gaunt announced the establishment of the Schapiro Archives, formally recognizing the ongoing collecting initiative in honor of Miriam Schapiro’s key leadership in the feminist art movement. Miriam Schapiro had donated her own papers to the archives in 2004. The Miriam Schapiro Archives on Women Artists and the Center for Women in the Arts and Humanities continue to collaborate on collection development, programs, and exhibitions. In 2009–2010, the holdings of the Miriam Schapiro Archives were showcased in a major exhibition at the Special Collections and University Archives galleries, Bridging Generations: Women Artists and Organizations from Rutgers’ Collections.