Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Susan Bee

Susan Bee

Susan Bee is an artist, editor, and designer who lives and works in New York City. She shows her paintings at A.I.R. Gallery in New York City, where she has had four solo shows. She has published six artist's books with Granary Books, including collaborations with poets: Bed Hangings, with Susan Howe, A Girl’s Life, with Johanna Drucker, Log Rhythms and Little Orphan Anagram with Charles Bernstein and The Burning Babe and Other Poems with Jerome Rothenberg.

She is coeditor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G: An Anthology of Artist's Writings, Theory, and Criticism, with writings by over 100 artists, critics, and poets, published by Duke University Press in 2000. She was the coeditor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G: A Journal of Contemporary Art Issues from 1986-1996. Bee is the coeditor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G Online.

Bee has had solo shows at Kenyon College, Columbia University, William Paterson College, and Virginia Lust Gallery, and her work has been included in numerous group shows. She has a BA from Barnard College and a MA in Art from Hunter College. Her artist's books are included in many public and private collections including the Getty Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Yale University, Clark Art Institute, New York Public Library, and Harvard University Library.

Her work has been reviewed in Art in America, The New York Times, Art Papers, The Brooklyn Rail, and NY Arts. She has had fellowships and grants from Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts. Bee teaches in the School of Visual Arts MFA in Art Criticism program.
Susan Bee

My artwork, both painting and artist’s books, examines and questions gender roles and the portrayal of women in popular culture. As an artist, I believe strongly in the role of the imagination and the importance of poetry, humor, irony, memory, and fantasy in art. I also believe in idiosyncratic, individualistic, and eccentric art making.

My education in feminism began in 1969, when I went to Barnard College. My college years were filled with actions against the Vietnam war and the emergence of the feminist, black power and gay rights movements. There were almost no women art teachers at Barnard. So I looked outside of college for role models. I had the example of the art of my mother, painter Miriam Laufer.

In graduate school at Hunter from 1975 to 1977 there were also no women art teachers. So I went to panels at A.I.R., the women's coop gallery formed in 1972, and heard Ana Mendieta, Mary Beth Edelson, Nancy Spero, and others. From 1979 to 1980 I worked as an editor at Women Artists News.

In 1986, Mira Schor and I started M/E/A/N/I/N/G, which I coedited and designed till 1996. We started M/E/A/N/I/N/G Online in 2002. In 2007, we published issue #4, a Feminist Forum. M/E/A/N/I/N/G has created a space in which feminist issues can be explored by women and men. While we embraced feminist theory, we didn’t endorse any single point of view. We have published artist’s writings on women artists, sexuality, censorship, racism, and artists as mothers.

I have been a member of A.I.R. Gallery since 1996. I was on a panel, "Critics: A New Generation," at A.I.R in 1982. In 1984, I was in "Women Artists of the 80's: New Talent" at A.I.R. Since joining the gallery, I have had four solo shows and participated in group shows.

The decision to follow a feminist path in art has never been easy. Being political and announcing your difference is not the easiest way to proceed in the art world. That's what makes maintaining an openly feminist space, a continuing challenge. I think it's important that these spaces exist, even as women artists have made significant inroads into the mainstream. We still need a place of our own. Feminist issues remain inescapable for me in all aspects of my life. I hope the future of women’s art and art making will be strong, participatory, empowering, and inclusive.

View Susan Bee's CV (PDF)

Portrait of the Artist as a Young PigSojournerHer Candle Burns HotA GirlTree of Lost Dreams (detail)Sheds of Our WebsHow Deep is the Ocean



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