Friday, December 10, 2010

Arty Farty Friday ~ Feminist Miriam Schapiro


Feminist artist Miriam Schapiro, born in Toronto, Canada on 15 November 1923, grew up and studied in New York and Iowa. She married artist Paul Brach in 1946. Schapiro worked a series of odd jobs until she became a artist full-time in 1955. She originally painted in the Abstract Expressionist style. As her commitment to feminism grew during the 1960's, she developed her own personal style which she called femmage. Combining such commonplace elements as lace, fabric scraps, buttons, rickrack, sequins, and tea towels she transformed them into sophisticated compositions that often imply multiple layers of both space and meaning. Her recent works juxtapose intricately patterned abstract backgrounds with stylized human figures in motion-whether falling or dancing- made of brightly colored paper. (

In keeping with the topic of Passion, Freedom & Women, Miriam Schapiro is a groundbreaking artist who, in her 60-year career, stepped out of the mold to fight for women’s artistic freedom and the democratization of art. She was a key visionary in starting a new movement in art, Pattern and Decoration.

Schapiro challenged the male art system from within and without. Since the 1960s, she risked her artistic reputation to bring women to the fore and erase the line between high art and craft, flaunting uses of the previously taboo materials like organdy and lace.

Schapiro explained: “I bring to my paintings all the elements of craft because I believe that craft belongs to women. That’s how it’s been designated by the patriarchal art system. Our culture also insists that ornamentation and decoration are innately female. But, unfortunately, it then follows that what is female is considered inferior. It doesn’t have to be that way. Eastern and Islamic cultures don’t feminize their decorative arts. What the male patriarchal art world does here is sexist as well as racist. The binary concept of fine art being above craft is false.”

In addition to her painting, Schapiro fought for women’s artistic freedom, traveling across the country to deliver speeches that were filled with the work of ignored women artists. In 1971, she and Judy Chicago formed the Feminist Art Program, which, for the first time, addressed how the self-esteem of women had been damaged by male-dominated culture. With students, they created a collaborative environment, Womanhouse, that attracted national attention.


In her natal chart I'm looking for creativity, Uranus, Aquarius, Mars and Fixed signs (determination) to be emphasised: art, rebellion, social reform and a fighter.

Sun is conjunct Mercury and Jupiter in passionate, determined Scorpio (Fixed sign) and in harmonious trine to Uranus in Pisces and Pluto in Cancer. These form a Grand Trine in Water signs - with the Scorpio factor prominent because those are personal planets, yet very much in in tune with the generational pull from rebellious Uranus and powerful Pluto.

If born before 8:00 PM Miriam's natal Moon would have been in Aquarius - that'd be a very good bet. Born later than 8:00 PM Moon would have moved into early Pisces. Although that would blend well with her Water Grand Trine, yet I feel Aquarius is clearly indicated here.

Venus, planet of the arts is in Fiery and outgoing Sagittarius, in a rather wide trine to Neptune planet of creativity in Leo. This outgoing Venus/Neptune factor is not quite as prominent as I'd expect - unless, of course, one or other of the planets was close to a chart angle (ascendant, midheaven, etc.) We cannot know that without an accurate time of birth.

Saturn (structure) and Mars (the fighter) conjoined in diplomatic Libra, semi-sextile (helpful)to the Scorpio cluster adds a hint that although Miriam is a passionate and determined fighter for her cause, she has found tactful and artistic ways in which to bring her concerns to the attention of the public.










Gian Paul said...

Nice pictures too look at, thanks. Being Jewish (probably) Miriam would not be upset, if one says that her works remind Marc Chagall - and that of the two, I prefer the latter. Not because he is male, of course.

PS. Lace glued onto a picture raises some concern about durability also. Or one's cleaning woman needs to understand this type of art.

Gian Paul said...

On reflection I thought that my previous comment was somewhat harsh.

First I apologize if that can be of any help. Secondly I tried to know why on earth I would not have made a nicer comment about Miriam's art. And I found an astrological reason (as happens so often, suffice to look for it): My natal Mars is conjunct her Moon, especially if your "very good bet", Twilight, is true, which I think it is. Hence my "aggression". Miriams Saturn opposes my natal Sun, may be why "something" made me unconfortable.

PS. Next time, I promise, I will "think first", and not as Aries usually does...

Twilight said...

Gian Paul ~~~ Oh I didn't read comment #1 as particularly harsh, GP. Candid, perhaps - nothing wrong with that. But I appreciate your sensitivity in adding comment #2. :-)

My own reaction to Ms Schapiro's art was fairly bland, to be honest.
It's pretty and cleverly created, but on the whole much to fussy for my personal taste. I think its quite "American". :-)

Interesting that you found and astrological cause for your slight antipathy - I find that can happen frequently for me - both in positive and negative ways.

Gian Paul said...

That thing with planetary "combinations" between people (and nations, organizations etc.) is amazing! It works in all directions, even posthumously, beyond what normal limits would assume.

I made the maps of several authors, painters, architects etc. I particularly like, many already dead, but the "links" are there.

PS. On the night of Dec 7/8 Buddhists celebrate the time Buddha had is enlightment. They say that at early morning, at "twilight" he contemplated the Morning Star (Venus) and had the illumination that not only he but all beings (and not just humans) at that moment and location were woken up by that same "Venusian phenomenon". All eternally connected. And not just by Venus, your "Twilightstar".

Twilight said...

Gian Paul ~~~ I've encountered the same phenomenon, GP - often.
That's partly what keeps me plodding away at an astrology blog."Something is happening" but we don't know what it is".

Oh really - re Buddha - I didn't know that. My screen name and conseqent e-mail address came about for far more mundane reasons, but I'm very happy to find a nice mystical link within it. ;-)