Forty years ago in San Francisco, the Women’s Caucus for Art (WCA) was formed by female members of the College Art Association (CAA) as a backlash to the appointment of an all-male board. Today, WCA has 25 chapters across America. On September 8th, 2012, four WCA California chapters are celebrating the 40th anniversary by hosting a conference and juried exhibition at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California. The title of the event is ‘Honoring Women’s Rights’ (HWR).
WCA has helped change the gender landscape in the art world, but this election cycle shows that the unconscionable forces pushing back against women’s rights make this conference not only timely, but urgent. Can an art-focused organization help stem the tides of the regressive right wing? How can we, as artists, amplify the drumbeat to maintain our unalienable rights?

In the early 70’s, civil rights were embedded in the collective consciousness. Women recognized that when men were in control of everything, the women were left out. If women wanted to be part of the mainstream, they had to become decision makers. In the 80′s, the Guerrilla Girls, an anonymous group of fine art feminists, did a penis count of major NYC art institutions. They found only five percent of the exhibited artists were women, while 85 percent of the nudes were female. They went on to document that the numbers were comparable is major museums, blue chip galleries, university art departments, and auction houses despite the fact that 60% of graduating art student were female.

When they published their results, the activist group famously asked, “Do ladies have to be naked to get into the Met?”
The WCA chapters’ anniversary celebration acknowledges the Women’s Rights movement by lending an artistic voice to struggle to preserve and sustain personal freedoms in all aspects of women’s lives. While WCA is not natively a political organization, the conference organizers pointed out to me, “It always takes a political movement to move women’s rights forward. For instance, American women’s suffrage was only recognized in 1920 after decades-long political campaigns. That effort is a direct ancestor to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1979 where women’s suffrage is explicitly stated as a right. And then last year, President Obama enacted the first-ever U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.

After 40 years, WCA is an established prominent, vibrant community of women artists, committed to recognizing the contributions of women in the arts.

SAVE THE DATE for the Honoring Women’s Rights conference & exhibition, 9am – 9pm at National Steinbeck Center, 1 Main Street, Salinas, Monterey County, CA on September 8, 2012.

Go to their website— http://www.HonorWomenRights.org or friend them on their Facebook page— http://www.facebook.com/HonoringWomensRights
Lynne Todaro
4/20/2012 11:41:25 am

I like the new illustration on the header!

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Honoring Women's Rights: a WCA Conference. Themed issues around writers and visual artists interpretations of Women's Rights