From Lucy Blankstein: Expanded Thoughts about the WWAC

Ellouise and I decided to make video's of some of the members of the Washington Women's Arts Center in order to highlight the spirit that we experienced.  We believe they give added depth to the Latitude:WWAC 1975-1987 exhibition which is being shown at the American University Museum at the Katzen Center from June 16-August 12, 2018.   I'd like to take this opportunity to expand on one of the events that I mentioned in my video.

The "From the Center" outreach exhibition was supported by a grant from the Washington DC Department  of the Arts and Humanities.  We brought the show to 6 venues.  All members of the exhibition participated, Sharron Antholt, Anne Banks, myself, Krystyna Edmondson, Dorothy Dort Levy, Joan Linsley, Claudia Reese, Charlotte Robinson, Carla Rosenzweig, Ellouise Schoettler, Anastasia Seremetis, Abbe Steinglass and Elena Vidotto. My most vivid memory is of the Women's Detention Center. When we walked in with the artwork, we knew we would be leaving after a few hours, yet entering the Detention Center was unnerving i.e. being searched and the sound of doors being locked behind us.    The inmates weren't really interested in what we were doing, as we installed the show.  But Photographer Krystyna Edmondson was not only able to connect with them with the explanation of her work, but also by asking everyone to close her eyes and think of a special place. A number of the women were able to tell stories or express their feelings with drawings.  

We brought the show to the District of Columbia Police Dept., Second District Headquarters.  It was obvious that this project made  them uncomfortable.  There were a number of smirks plus wise-a-- remarks on the surveys we handed out.  

Twenty-six institutions were contacted.  In addition to the Women's Detention Center and the Police Department we showed the work at Gallaudet College, HUD,  Pride Inc., and Wider Opportunities for Women In some, the general public could view the exhibition, while at others viewing was limited to security.  

This is just one of the hands on experiences, that was prevalent at the WWAC.


From Ellouise: Getting Started on Voices Videos


With 1970s confidence Lucy Blankstein and I began this video project in August 2017. We were determined to give voice to personal stories from women who had shouldered volunteer leadership roles at the beginning. We interviewed 16 women we had worked with then in their studios or their homes - and included  members who are not be here to speak for themselves. The oldest of the group is 92 and the youngest is in her early 60s. All are vital in their communities today and continue to make and exhibit art.   

Just as the Washington Women’s Art Center once served to give DC area women artists opportunities and a much needed exhibition space in the 1970’s, the 2018 Alper Initiative LATITUDE Exhibition recognizes the importance of the Washington Women's Arts Center’s contribution to the Metro D.C Area Art Scene and to the women’s artist movement. These videos include valuable oral history 18 artists who were active WWAC members in the 1970s.