Mira Schor is a painter and writer. She received her MFA in painting from CalArts in 1973. She was a member of the Feminist Art Program in 71-72 and participated in the FAP Womanhouse project. She has continued to work as a feminist in many of her visual art works and in her writings about women artists, representation of femininity, and on the gendered production of art history, as well as being involved with analysis and praxis of painting in a postmodern culture. Schor’s visual work has balanced political concerns with formalist and material passions. Her work has included major periods in which gendered narrative and representation of the body has been featured, but the predominant focus of her work has been representation of language in drawing and paintings.
The images chosen for the archive include early work with writing as image and an examination of the personal, the intersection of language and the female body, and paintings about the subject of painting itself. Other recent works include. WarCrawl, a major visual project published in Art Journal, Summer 2006 issue. Her work has been exhibited in NY at the Edward Thorp Gallery, Horodner Romley Gallery, and in group exhibitions internationally including at the Santa Monica Museum, the Armand Hammer Museum, PS 1, The Neuberger Museum, and the Aldrich Museum. A major painting installation, Sexual Pleasure, was exhibited in the Sheppard Gallery at UNV Reno. Her visual work and her writings are included in Art and Feminism (Phaidon 2001) and Sexual Politics: Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party in Feminist Art History (Univ. of CA Press).Her honors include awards in painting from the Guggenheim and Pollock-Krasner Foundations, and the 1999 College Art Association’s Frank Jewett Mather Award in Art Criticism. She teaches in the MFA Program of the Fine Arts Department at Parsons The New School for Design and is associated with the MFA in Art Criticism Program at SVA. Schor is the author of Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture and co-editor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G: An Anthology of Artists’ Writings, Theory, and Criticism (both from Duke University Press) and of M/E/A/N/I/N/G Online at http://writing.upenn.edu/pepc/meaning/. She is working on a new collection of her own writings and editing The Extreme of the Middle, a collection of writings by the painter Jack Tworkov
Feminist Artist Statement
My agenda for my work was established by the time I received my MFA from CalArts in 1973, having spent one year in the Feminist Art Program: I wanted to bring my experience of living inside a female body – with a mind – into high art in as intact a form as possible. The word agenda was not part of my vocabulary in the early seventies, that kind of strategic language was learned later, but my goals, my ambitions, and my desires for my work were established. I continue to work on the edge of the two domains I sought to reconcile in my art – the private space of the body, the public space of the art world and art history – juggling two terms that have sometimes seemed mutually exclusive: feminism and formalism. I am unwilling to drop either ball. The whole point for me was that there could be “great women artists,” and I wanted to be one, a “woman artist” in the sense of working consciously from a feminist analysis of culture.
The strategies with which I have resolved my understanding of these terms and positions have changed several times over the years. At CalArts I embraced the slogan, “the personal is the political,” because it buttressed my need to make autobiographical art. My first pictorial understanding was that I myself had to be in the picture. I did a series of “story paintings” in which my self-portrait protagonist explored her sexuality within an eroticized California landscape. Later I left the picture, leaving in place the image of an empty dress as a vehicle for femininity. I abstracted the dress shape into a double V shape, made of delicate rice paper covered with my handwriting. I was present as a person-sized shape and as personal text: autobiographical “story” was now in orthographic traces.
In the mid-eighties psychoanalytic and postmodernist theories enabled me to express my ideas through writing, and my enhanced awareness of social constructions of femininity and masculinity enriched my visual image bank. I focused on the body politic, including the male body, the body of language, the bodily matter of paint itself.
In recent work the language represented is public, appropriated from the news, such as WarCrawl, a painterly revision of the TV news crawl. Feminism is always a subtext, in its important connection between the body and a critical analysis of power.
View Mira Schor's CV (PDF)