Miriam Schapiro was a feminist, an artist, and an educator. She is well known for being one of the mothers of feminist art.
Miriam Schapiro was born in 1923 in Toronto to Theodore and Fannie Schapiro. From a young age Schapiro studied to be an artist, encouraged by her father who also was an artist. She received her BA in 1945, her MA in 1946, and her MFA in 1949 at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. At Iowa, she met her husband Paul Brach, and they both studied printmaking with Mauricio Lasanky. In the 1950s and 1960s Schapiro painted and created prints in an abstract manner that used personal narratives and repeated imagery like windows, eggs, and shrines. With the consciousness raising of feminism and women and in the 1970s, Schapiro's work became more political.
In the 1971, Schapiro co-founded the Feminist Art Program (FAP) at the California Institute of the Arts with Judy Chicago. Their first project was the iconic exhibition Womanhouse. In 1976, she travelled to Kansas City to give a lecture on women art makers who would be considered crafters. During her stay, Schapiro found a tablecloth with embroidered women’s names on them at a Goodwill store. Schapiro cut the tablecloth and included it in her artwork Water is Taught by Thirst. It was this point that she narratively connected her interest in women’s art to her own art-making strategies. She would continue to make "femmages" (fabric collages) well into the 2000s. In 1976, after moving back to New York City with her family, Schapiro was one of the founding members of two major feminist organizations: Heresies Collective and the New York Feminist Art Institute. She continued to make work and exhibit until the mid-2000s.
Miriam Schapiro passed away in 2015.
This exhibit was part of the Opening of the Miriam Schapiro Collection event on May 7, 2019. This collection is held by Rutgers University's Special Collections and University Archives.
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