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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Cristina Biaggi

Palisades,
USA

Cristina Biaggi, Ph.D., has achieved international recognition for her varied and significant contributions to the field of Goddess-centered art and scholarly studies. Her works are a reflection and an extension of her lifelong interest in the classics, art and art history, archaeology, literature and languages, acquired at Vassar College, the University of Utah, Harvard University and New York University. When she isn’t preparing new pieces for an exhibition, Dr. Biaggi is writing, lecturing, working with the Children’s Shakespeare Theatre of Palisades, New York, or spending time with her three dachshunds. She recently earned her Black Sash in Kung Fu and teaches Tae Kwon Do as a 4th Degree Black Belt. Her third published book, The Rule of Mars: Readings on the Origins, History and Impact of Patriarchy, made its debut in 2006 with Choice Magazine* giving it high marks. Her other two books are Habitations of the Great Goddess, published in 1995 and In the Footsteps of the Goddess, published in 2000. She has lectured widely about art, prehistory and women’s spirituality in the United States, Europe and Australia and extends her engagement with activism into both her art and her life. Of late, she has been creating bronze portraits of people and their animal companions. She has been exhibiting her work at the feminist-owned Ceres Gallery in New York City and The Flywheel Gallery in Rockland County, New York.

*Choice Magazine review of The Rule of Mars: “This eclectic and fascinating collection of 32 essays revolves around the topic of patriarchy, including its origins, diverse cultural manifestations, nefarious effects, and eventual demise. Most of the essays examine patriarchy’s origins and are heavily indebted to the work of archaeomythologist Marija Gimbutas…From the anthropological record past and present, several contributors demonstrate vast differences between matriarchal and patriarchal social orders and the chaos, pain, and suffering wrought by the latter, including war, domestic violence, exploitative capitalism, and environmental degradation…Biaggi deftly weaves the various essays together…Highly recommended.”

Feminist Artist Statement

As an artist, I’ve been inspired by a holistic, feminist view of the Earth and a strong desire to bring about transformation. I have created a body of artwork out of passionate outrage that developed in me over a span of five decades as an outspoken activist.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, years when I was participating in various women’s encampments around the world protesting the proliferation of nuclear weapons, I created a series of collages on paper and cloth and large web installations. The webs were woven by women in the encampments as symbols of women united in peace against the military-industrial complex.

During the 1980s and 1990s, I attended many women’s conferences including the Third Women’s International Conference in Nairobi and the Fourth Women’s International Conference in Beijing. From my involvement in these important events, I was motivated to create 52% and The Beijing Sphere—two collages bursting with the captivating faces of the wonderful women of the world I met at those life-changing conferences.

From the 1990s to the present time, I have continued to pursue my study of women’s spirituality and the Great Goddess, and from it has sprung a body of Goddess-related art and writings: the GG sculpture, the Goddess Mound project, a series of Medusas and a number of wooden pieces, along with three books: Habitations of the Great Goddess, In the Footsteps of the Goddess and The Rule of Mars. The latter is a wide-ranging collection of writings on the origins, history and impact of patriarchy.

The realization that my activism, my art and my writing have converged is a delight to me. That my most passionate pursuits have become undeniably intertwined is a reflection of my deepest being. I see it as a calling to achieve my fullest potential as an artist.

<p>Crucifixion I</p>

Crucifixion I

This is the first of a series of Crucifixions created in the form of a triptych, which was a way of depicting religious art in the Middle Ages. These works reflect woman’s plight all over the world – her inequality which, in some instances is like a crucifixion, her second classness, her low position. The women on the wings of the crucifixion look on with concentrated empathy at the woman on the cross.

Crucifixion I

This is the first of a series of Crucifixions created in the form of a triptych, which was a way of depicting religious art in the Middle Ages. These works reflect woman’s plight all over the world – her inequality which, in some instances is like a crucifixion, her second classness, her low position. The women on the wings of the crucifixion look on with concentrated empathy at the woman on the cross.

The Goddess Mound

The proposed structure is inspired by Maltese and Scottish temples and tombs from the Neolithic period, which the artist studied for her doctoral dissertation, Megalithic Sculptures that Symbolize the Great Goddess. The form, location, internal spatial arrangements, associated finds, inscriptions, and sheer number of Maltese and Scottish structures suggests strong religious beliefs centered on a deity of death and fertility. Megalithic monuments from the Neolithic period abound throughout Western Europe. Many are tombs covered with a mound or cairn and some have decorated interior spaces. These structures were used as tombs over generations. Rituals were enacted outside in front of the structures. I believe the creation of such a structure is very important now in this era of growing attention to woman’s place in history. Scholars in all fields are doing research from a feminist perspective and making valuable discoveries about the heretofore-overlooked contributions of women throughout history. They are looking at old data from various disciplines and arriving at enlightened new conclusions, expanding our consciousness about what is valuable and precious in human endeavor.

The 3-Dimensional Web installation

The Web is an ancient archetypal symbol derived from animal art, which in its latest manifestation, has come to symbolize the contemporary wave of the Women’s Movement. From the Women’s Pentagon Actions of the seventies to Greenham Common and Seneca Falls during the eighties, the Web has been woven as a reminder of our interconnection with all living things and of the need for peace.
The installation, which has been created in many venues using natural and existing surroundings, is made from different thicknesses of red-hued ropes measuring one mile in length. The ropes are woven and knotted together at intervals in both the vertical and horizontal planes. The purely arbitrary occurrence of knots is intended to express the randomness and yet connectedness of life and experience. Scattered within the web and suspended from it are a number of painted spheres made of papier mâché and decorated with cosmic designs. The spheres can be taken to express our world as one among many in the cosmos; the different hues of red as differentiation within unity.

Women’s Beijing Sphere

This collage contains photographs of women’s faces taken at the Fourth World Conference of Women in Beijing, China in 1995. The world (the sphere) consists of 52% women, most of whom have not participated in the decisions involving our planet since the advent of patriarchy. This piece attempts to capture the feeling of wholeness, of connectedness, of vitality, of transformation, of extreme emotion - from joy to outrage - that was being experienced daily at the conference, and that will provide the basic nourishment that is needed for global change.

Raging Medusa

The Medusa is one of the artist’s favorite sculpture motifs. “She has fascinated me because she is not afraid, she doesn’t look back, she hits the nail on the head, her eyes see through all falsehood. She is the mistress of life and death.”

This piece represents the fury of women duped and enslaved by patriarchy and the deepest anger toward the Earth Herself at being cataclysmically devastated. Medusa is the scream of women’s outrage in the night. She is the rage and indignation of the inequities of life. She represents the fertile anger, the blue hot light of wrath that will blow up and shatter everything in its path. Out of the shattered remains of the old, the new world will emerge full of promise and hope. Medusa is an image of transformation.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Breaking the Glass Ceiling reflects the huge importance of Hillary Clinton’s bid for the 2008 Democratic nomination for the presidency especially for women all over the world. In the center of the piece Hillary is depicted as a gathering force of women who have made a difference in history.

The Web (side II)

The Web is a double-sided collage on cloth panels that is 45 feet in diameter, depicting women’s political actions throughout the ages and throughout the world. In the center is the Great Goddess. The various panels are connected with red ropes (our collective sacred blood) and the whole piece was originally hung from trees so that the wind could move the panels back and forth and create a subtle wave of movement.

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