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Dear Ms. Mueller,

The following statement is my answer to your inquiry regarding the Feminist Art Program. It is a rather rambling stream of consciousness thing, but I hope it answers your questions.
    After my time at CalArts, I moved back to Fresno and recieved my Masters in sculpture from Cal State University. I then worked a series of odd jobs from waitressing to topless dancing (a very strange job for a feminist, but I looked on it as a performance piece like the ones we did in the program).
    I remained an artist. I always had a studio of sorts. One was a warehouse with no heating, cooling or hot water. I showered at the YWCA, three blocks away. I stayed in that warehouse/loft for five years, then a fire destroyed it along with many of my possessions. I moved to Merced and worked as a bartender and subsititute teacher until I was hired at my present job as a deputy public conservator, handeling the affairs of people who are mentally ill. I applied for the job knowing what it entailed because someone had tried to put me on a conservatorship when I was in my twenties. Being a manic-depressive, before lithium, my twenties were spent going in and out of mental hospitals. I did art at that time, but most of it was pretty crazy. It was only in my "normal" periods that I created anything significant.
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     In my thirties and fourties, I feel I have done my best work to date. I have a wonderful studio space, again in a warehouse/loft, but this time its heated, cooled and with hot water. It has a real kitchen, bedroom, living area, office, all the comforts of a house, and a great work space. I have a stable, loving relationship with a man I have been with for the last ten years. We were married last year. My job of fifteen years is steady money even though I don't like the work, it gives me the money to do my art.
     I have done art in all the years since I left the program. I did art before the program. I am an artist. I can't see being anything else. I don't make a living off my work. I am not a household name in art. A part of me thinks I've done al lot, another part thinks I've done very little and I have much to do.
     The group experience in the Feminist Art Program made me conscious of the unfairness against women in the art world and in the world in general. Sometimes it made me very resentful. Looking back on the program, I can see we tread on grounds not yet explored. We opened the doors for a lot of things to happen. However, with only a couple of exceptions, we did not become known for what we did. It was too far ahead of its time, and way too unacceptable.I feel anger. When I read about Mike Kelly making a big name for himself, doing a performance piece
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of moping the floor and being labled as one of the most signifigant artists of the day, I feel resentment. We did that type of thing back in 1972. We did photographs of ourselves in costumes as images of women long before Cindy Sherman. Where is our fame?
    I ask myself why I am not living off my art. At 47, I still work a day job and try to get more recognition for my art.

Yet, I have had successes in my art career. I am represented by a gallery in New York City (I will be having a solo show there this year) and also a gallery in San Francisco. I have been included in several books in the last few years, the most recent one is ironically titled "The Eleven Commandments of Wildly Sucessful Women".
    The best things that I gained from being a part of the Program is the lasting friendships I have with some of the women and the contact I have with the majority of the others. We even managed to have a reunion two years ago. We cried, we laughed, we caught up after twenty years. It was wonderful.

    For many years I took every reference to the Feminist Art Program at Fresno and at CalArts out of my resume. It seemed as though history had forgotten us and what we had done had made no impact and had changed nothing. Having mention of it in my resume only served as a red flag for trouble as I applied for teaching jobs or to obtain gallery interest.
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I was strong in my early twenties, but I was no longer in a group, I was out there alone. I put the program back into my resume about ten years ago.


    I don't know about the status of women artists today. I'd like to think that perhaps it is a little easier for them because of what we did back in the seventies. I feel that the show at MOMA two years ago was put together in a hurry as an afterthought, a bone tossed to women artists as if to say, "You've had your little show, now shut up". The show at the Armand Hammer was good, but it didn't seem to generate any critical attention, only the usual pans of Judy's work. "The Power of Feminist Art" was a lovely book, but they seemed to purge all the personal comment that made the experiences real. It was a sanitized intellectual version of the way it was, an acceptable one, another bone thrown to make us shut up.
    I really thought that in 1997 women artists would have come further. The ratio of women to men in galleries and musuems is still appallingly small. What does it take, another twenty to fifty years perhaps?


Karen LeCocq

Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrand (ed): The Power of Feminist Art. The American Movement of the 1970s, History and Impact. New York, 1994