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Organized by feminist artists Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro, Womanhouse was an art installation that took place in an abandoned house in Hollywood in late January 1972. Participating artists were all women and each were given a room to transform into an art space that confronted an issue facing women. The installation took on such topics as reproductive rights, beauty, and gender roles. This dollhouse was created by Nancy Bautista, Stephanie Christian, Aimee Dozois and Sharon Sekhon for the Studio for Southern California History. Our version represents a 2007 approach to the same issues confronting the original artists; however, because we did not have an abandoned home, we converted an off the counter dollhouse and added our own ideas.

Select a room to explore it more closely.

An Homage to Womanhouse
 

Organized by feminist artists Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro, Womanhouse was an art installation that took place in an abandoned house in Hollywood in late January 1972. Participating artists were all women and each were given a room to transform into an art space that confronted an issue facing women. The installation took on such topics as reproductive rights, beauty, and gender roles. Paula Harper developed the inital concept, which asked women to think through their earliest memories to the domestic sphere of the home. Artists included in the original Womanhouse included Beth Bachenheimer, Sherry Brody, Judy Chicago, Susan Frazier, Camille Grey, Vicky Hodgett, Kathy Huberland, Judy Huddleston, Janice Johnson, Karen Le Cocq, Janice Lester, Paula Longendyke, Ann Mills, Carol Edison Mitchell, Robin Mitchell, Sandra Orgel, Jan Oxenburg, Christine Rush, Marsha Salisbury, Miriam Schapiro, Robin Schiff, Mira Schor, Robin Weltsch, Wanda Westcoast, Faith Wilding, Shawnee Wollenma and Nancy Youdelman.

We named the occupant of the Studio’s dollhouse, Ethel, in honor of all of the Ethels in our world. From Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance) who was sidelined by Lucy but a rare & generous comic in her own right, to Ethel Andrus Percy, Los Angeles’ first female high school principal & the founder of the American Association of Retired People (AARP), there are many Ethels who go unrecognized but suffer & celebrate the same as the rest of us. The skeleton represents Ethel and provides a universal figure for us to identify with, but it takes the terrible maxim, “You can never be too thin or too rich,” to its terrible & logical conclusion.

The personal still remains political in that women still need to find their best friends within themselves.

When this dollhouse initially was shown in 2007, it was discovered that a similar project called Girlhouse took place at the Santa Monica YWCA in 2006 under the direction of Kesa Kivel. Instead of working with adult artists, Ms. Kivel provided a space for girls between 11 and 13 to work out any issues facing today's young women. The group decided unanimously that sexual harrassment was a major problem. In addition to a 15 minute documentary, Kesa Kivel created lesson plans and exercises to help contemporary girls confront this issue. To learn more about Ms. Kivel's work please visit the Girl House Art Project.

 

 

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