Faith Wilding

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Faith Wilding
Born1943 (age 79–80)
Alma materUniversity of Iowa,
California State University Fresno,
California Institute of the Arts
Known forPerformance art, installation, multimedia art, arts education
MovementCyber Feminism, Feminist Art, Performance Art, Critical Studies, Eco Feminism

Faith Wilding (born 1943) is a Paraguayan American multidisciplinary artist - which includes but is not limited to: watercolor, performance art, writing, crocheting, knitting, weaving, and digital art. She is also an author, educator, and activist widely known for her contribution to the progressive development of feminist art. She also fights for ecofeminism, genetics, cyberfeminism, and reproductive rights.[1] Wilding is Professor Emerita of performance art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.[2]

Personal life and education[edit]

Faith Wilding was born in 1943 in Paraguay and emigrated to the United States in 1961.[3][4] She holds a degree in English from the University of Iowa. In 1969 she began her graduate studies and then received her Master of Fine Arts degree from California Institute of the Arts.[5][6]

She was married to Everett Frost, an English professor. Wilding and her husband were anti-war activists and members of the Students for a Democratic Society. While in Fresno, Wilding and her friend Suzanne Lacy became activists for the feminist movement.[5]


Wilding became a teaching assistant in the Feminist Art Program Judy Chicago founded at California State University, Fresno, in 1970.[7] While there, she participated in the month-long, ground-breaking feminist exhibition Womanhouse, held in an empty house in Los Angeles in 1972. For Womanhouse she made Crocheted Environment which she originally called Womb Room (1972) as well as the performance work Waiting.[8]

Wilding wrote about the Feminist art movement in her book By Our Own Hands (Los Angeles, 1976).[9] She has worked in various media including art, video, installations, and performances.[10] Her work has been exhibited in North America, Europe and Asia, including at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Whitney Museum of Art, and the Drawing Center, all in New York City; in Los Angeles at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Hammer Museum; the Riverside Art Museum; documenta X, Kassel; Ars Electronica Center, Linz; The Next Five Minutes Festival, Amsterdam; and Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid.[11] Her audio work has been commissioned and broadcast by RIAS Berlin; WDR Cologne; and National Public Radio.[12]

Wilding taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.[13] She has worked as a Research Fellow at the Studio for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University,[14] and a faculty member of the Master of Fine Arts in Visual Art Program at Vermont College, Norwich University.[15] She has received several grants and awards in art, including a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship.[16]

In 2014 Wilding's solo exhibition and retrospective, Fearful Symmetries opened at Threewalls gallery in Chicago, Illinois. Curated by Shannon Stratton, the exhibition traveled to Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee; The Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, California; the University of Houston-Clear Lake in Houston, Texas and the Miller Gallery (now ICA) at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The exhibition resulted in the publication of a book by the same name featuring essays by Jenni Sorkin, Amelia Jones, Keith Vaughn, Irina Aristarkova, Mario Ontiveros; Wilding's own writing and interviews by Daniel Tucker and Mira Schor.[17]

She was interviewed for the 2010 film !Women Art Revolution.[18]


In 1998, Wilding co-founded with artist Hyla Willis, subRosa, a cyberfeminist organization.[19] The manifesto for subRosa states: “subRosa is a reproducible cyberfeminist cell of cultural researchers committed to combining art, activism, and politics to explore and critique the effects of the intersections of the new information and biotechnologies on women’s bodies, lives, and work… Let a million subRosas bloom!”[19][20]

subRosa has performed, exhibited, lectured and published in the US, Spain, Britain, Holland, Germany, Croatia, Macedonia, Mexico, Canada, Slovenia, and Singapore.[21] Recent Wilding/subRosa performances/exhibitions include: “The Interventionists”, MASSMoCA; “BioDifference” Biennial of Electronic Arts, Perth, Australia; Performance International, Mexico City, and Mérida, Yucatán; “Cloning Cultures,” National University, Singapore; Welcome to the Revolution, Zurich; Art of Maintenance, Kunstakademie, Vienna.[22] Their works include "Feminist Matter(s): Propositions and Undoing", staged for the Pittsburgh Biennial 2011, that invited visitors to discuss the representation of women in the history of science and technology at tea tables.[23] In 2013, the Women's Caucus for Art announced that Wilding will be a 2014 recipient of the organization's Lifetime Achievement Award.[24]

In 2014, threewalls, a non-profit art gallery in Chicago, held the first retrospective of Wilding's work titled "Fearful Symmetries" that featured artwork spanning 40 years.[25]


Coauthor or editor
  • Domain Errors! Cyberfeminist Practices. Eds. Maria Fernanadez, Faith Wilding, and Michelle M. Wright. Autonomedia, 2003.
  • Laura Meyer with Faith Wilding, "Collaboration and Conflict in the Fresno Feminist Art Program: An Experiment in Feminist Pedagogy". n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal vol. 26, July 2010 pp. 40–51.
  • subRosa, Faith Wilding. "Bodies Unlimited A decade of subRosa's art practice." n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal. July 2012. 28. pp. 16–25.
  • Faith Wilding, Critical Art Ensemble. "Notes on the Political Condition of Cyberfeminism." Art Journal. Summer 1998. 58: 4. pp. 46–59.
  • Faith Wilding, Mira Schor, Emma Amos, Susan Bee, Johanna Drucker, María Fernández, Amelia Jones, Shirley Kaneda, Helen Molesworth, Howardena Pindell, Collier Schorr "Contemporary Feminism: Art Practice, Theory, and Activism--An Intergenerational Perspective". Art Journal. Winter, 1999. 58: 4. pp. 8–29.

Visual work[edit]

Crocheted Environment[edit]

Nicknamed "Womb Room", this piece is a sculptural installation of a large crocheted, weblike structure.[27] Faith Wilding contributed this one room, crocheted environment within the collaborative 1972 Womanhouse installation put together by the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute for the Arts.[27] The piece was also displayed in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, as well as the Bronx Museum, New York, under “Division of Labor: Women’s Work in Contemporary Art.”

Wall of Wounds[edit]

Wall of Wounds is an installation of 100 Rorschach prints.[clarification needed] Each 6” by 6” print is intended to comment on the social culture by proclaiming one's pre-categorized “wound.” Each print is signed and titled based on the nature of the wound: for example, “political wound,” “sexual wound,” or “phallic wound.”

Battle Dresses[edit]

Battle Dresses are a series of paintings entitled “Raped Dress,” “Suppurating Dress,” and “Pregnant Dress.” The series is dedicated to the women of the former Yugoslavia who were raped. The series was created in the period between 1995 and 1997. The entire installation measures 75” by 25” and is done on Vellum using ink and watercolor medium.

War Subjects[edit]

War Subjects is composed of 75” by 50” ink and watercolor drawings, which are “the recombined war body of melancholic historical fragments.”


Recombinants are a series of drawings, collages, and paintings that speak to the intersection of plant, human, animal and technological bodies. The piece contains visual and intellectual influences derivative of the Cyborg Manifesto.

Performance work[edit]

Duration performance[edit]

Wilding gave a performance/lecture on the politics of Information Technology and its relation to femininity as a consequence of the global reconstruction of telecommunication.


Wilding performed this piece in Womanhouse while sitting down and rocking back and forth. Waiting is a dramatic monologue that shows the passage of time and that throughout every stage - childhood, teenage years, motherhood, and old age - of her life a woman is waiting to feel beautiful. She is waiting to experience life and to feel accepted by herself and society.[28]

Cock and Cunt[edit]

This was a role-playing exercise written by Judy Chicago and performed by Wilding and Janice Lester in Womanhouse. This is an interaction between a husband (HE), played by Wilding, and a wife (SHE), played by Lester. Both are wearing comically exaggerated genitalia. It starts in the living room with an argument over dishes and ends in the bedroom where the SHE is murdered by the HE. This play highlights the prevalence and danger of gender roles.[29]

Invitation To A Burning[edit]

A mummy-like form filled with plants was burned at the Woman's Building in Los Angeles, California. Individuals participated by filling the burned form with seeds; the seeds sprouted over the course of the three-week installation.


  1. ^ Wilding, Faith (2000). "Monstrous Domesticity". In Bee, Susan; Schor, Mira (eds.). M/E/A/N/I/N/G An Anthology of Artists' Writings, Theory, and Criticism. Durham: Duke University Press. pp. 87–104.
  2. ^ "Faith Wilding: Fearful Symmetries, A Retrospective". Contemporary Art Chicago, Threewalls. Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  3. ^ "Faith Wilding". Oxford Reference Index. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  4. ^ Smith, Beryl; et al. (1996). Lives and Works: Talks with Women Artists, Volume 2. Lanham, MD and London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. ISBN 0-8108-3153-8.
  5. ^ a b Jane F. Gerhard. The Dinner Party: Judy Chicago and the Power of Popular Feminism, 1970-2007. University of Georgia Press; 1 June 2013. ISBN 978-0-8203-4568-0. p. 27.
  6. ^ Swartz, Anne K. (2010-02-24), "Wilding, Faith", Oxford Art Online, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.t2086188
  7. ^ Jane F. Gerhard. The Dinner Party: Judy Chicago and the Power of Popular Feminism, 1970-2007. University of Georgia Press; 1 June 2013. ISBN 978-0-8203-4568-0. p. 27–28.
  8. ^ Butler, Cornelia (2007). WACK! art and feminist revolution. Los Angeles: The MIT Press. p. 316. ISBN 978-0-914357-99-5.
  9. ^ Terry Wolverton. Insurgent Muse: Life and Art at the Woman's Building. City Lights Books; 1 August 2002. ISBN 978-0-87286-403-0. p. 28.
  10. ^ Peter Howard Selz; Susan Landauer; San Jose Museum of Art. Art of Engagement: Visual Politics in California and Beyond. University of California Press; 2006. ISBN 978-0-520-24053-7. p. 191.
  11. ^ "Faith Wilding". Vermont College of Fine Arts. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  12. ^ "Faith Wilding". Retrieved 2010-09-18.
  13. ^ "Faith Wilding: Fearful Symmetries Retrospective". threewalls. Archived from the original on February 10, 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  14. ^ "New Observations /113: Faith Wilding". Retrieved 2010-09-18.
  15. ^ "Faith Wilding | Vermont College of Fine Arts". Archived from the original on 2010-08-09. Retrieved 2010-09-18.
  16. ^ "Faith Wilding". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on 2013-11-09. Retrieved 2010-09-18.
  17. ^ Wilding, Faith. "Faith Wilding's Fearful Symmetries". Intellect Books. Retrieved 2023-02-06.
  18. ^ Anon 2018
  19. ^ a b Abrams, Loney (2019-01-04). "The Other Art History: The Forgotten Cyberfeminists of '90s Net Art". Artspace. Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  20. ^ "Biography". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 2013-03-07.
  21. ^ "subRosa". Archived from the original on 2013-02-21. Retrieved 2013-03-07.
  22. ^ "Bronx Museum of Arts Roundtable". Kabul Reconstructions. Retrieved 2013-03-07.
  23. ^ Paik, Sherry (2020). "Faith Wilding Biography". Ocula.
  24. ^ "Women's Caucus for Art". Archived from the original on October 3, 2013. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  25. ^ "threewalls exhibition". threewalls. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  26. ^ Wilding, Faith (1977-01-01). By our own hands: the woman artist's movement, Southern California, 1970-1976. Santa Monica, Calif.: Double X. OCLC 2943210.
  27. ^ a b "Crocheted Environment". Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. 1972. Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  28. ^ Raven, Arlene (1994). Broude, Norma; Garrard, Mary D. (eds.). The Power of Feminist Art - The American Movement of the 1970s, History, and Impact. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. pp. 48–65.
  29. ^ Raven, Arlene (1994). Broude, Norma; Garrard, Mary D. (eds.). The Power of Feminist Art - The American Movement of the 1970s, History, and Impact. Harry N. Abrams, inc. pp. 48–65.

Further reading[edit]

  • Interview with Faith Wilding and Brett Stalbaum from M/E/A/N/I/N/G
  • Waiting. React Feminism.
  • Interview with Faith Wilding for !Women Art Revolution, !W.A.R.: Voices of a Revolution digital archive, collection of the Standard University Libraries.