Feminist Art Program

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The first women's art class was taught in the fall of 1970 at Fresno State College, now California State University, Fresno, by artist Judy Chicago. It became the Feminist Art Program, a full 15-unit program, in the Spring of 1971. Fifteen students studied under Chicago at Fresno State College: Dori Atlantis, Susan Boud, Gail Escola, Vanalyne Green, Suzanne Lacy, Cay Lang, Karen LeCocq, Jan Lester, Chris Rush, Judy Schaefer, Henrietta Sparkman, Faith Wilding, Shawnee Wollenman, Nancy Youdelman, and Cheryl Zurilgen. Together, as the Feminist Art Program, these women rented and refurbished an off-campus studio at 1275 Maple Avenue in downtown Fresno. Here they collaborated on art, held reading groups, and discussion groups about their life experiences which then influenced their art.

Later, Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro reestablished the Feminist Art Program (FAP) at California Institute of the Arts. After Chicago left for Cal Arts, the class at Fresno State College was continued by Rita Yokoi from 1971 to 1973, and then by Joyce Aiken in 1973, until her retirement in 1992.[a]

The Fresno Feminist Art Program served as a model for other feminist art efforts, such as Womanhouse, a collaborative feminist art exhibition and the first project produced after the Feminist Art Program moved to the California Institute of the Arts in the fall of 1971. Womanhouse, like the Fresno project, also developed into a feminist studio space and promoted the concept of collaborative women's art.[1]

The Feminist Studio Workshop was founded in in Los Angeles in 1973 by Judy Chicago, Arlene Raven, and Sheila Levrant de Bretteville as a two-year feminist art program. Women from the program were instrumental in finding and creating the Woman's Building, the first independent center to showcase women's art and culture.

Art historian Lowery Sims established the Feminist Art Program in Los Angeles.[2]

Fresno Feminist Art Program[edit]

An experimental program begun in 1970 by Judy Chicago and fifteen student participants at Fresno State, marked as the first feminist art program in the United States.[3]


Feminist Art Program (FAP)[edit]

The Feminist Art Program (FAP) was created by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California, in 1971. Building on the "radical educational techniques" that she had first tried out in her classes for women in 1970-1971, when she worked at Fresno State, Chicago and Schapiro made the program, the first of its kind accessible to women only. Chicago in particular felt she had to "redo" her education as an art historian, since she had been taught by men exclusively and considered that this background forced a male perspective on her as an artist and disallowed her from developing her "own forms, artistic language, and subject matter".[4]


  1. ^ Aiken opened the all-women's co-op Gallery 25 with her students, developed the Fresno Art Museum's Council of 100 and the Distinguished Women Artist Series, which helped develop programming and exhibitions about women at the museum.[1]


  1. ^ a b Dr. Laura Meyer; Nancy Youdelman. "A Studio of Their Own: The Legacy of the Fresno Feminist Art Experiment". A Studio of their Own. Retrieved 8 January 2011. 
  2. ^ Arlene Raven (1991). "The Last Essay on Feminist Criticism". In Arlene Raven, Cassandra L. Langer, and Joanna Frueh. Feminist Art Criticism: An Anthology. New York: Icon Editions. pp. 229–230. Retrieved 8 January 2014.  via Questia (subscription required)
  3. ^ Meyer, Laura (2009). A Studio of their Own: The Legacy of the Fresno Feminist Experiment (First ed.). Fresno, California: The Press at the California State University, Fresno. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-912201-39-9.
  4. ^ Harper, Paula (1985). "The First Feminist Art Program: A View from the 1980s". Signs 10 (4): 762–81.