For Immediate Release: The Smithsonian Archives of American Art
has acquired the archive of Women & Their Work
The Smithsonian Archives of American Art, the largest repository in the world of primary source materials pertaining to visual art in America, has acquired the archive of Women & Their Work. Dedicated to collecting and preserving the history of the visual arts in America through its documents and objects, the Smithsonian is the most widely used research center and includes over 16 million items.
The archive of Women & Their Work spans 42 years of its history and will be available in perpetuity to scholars and researchers in Washington DC and accessible online by request. The archive includes over 80 boxes of artist files, letters, contracts, press clippings, newspaper and magazine reviews, grant applications, consultant reports, installation sketches and mock-ups, photographs, playbills, performance calendars, VHS tapes and DVDs, slides, financial records and even a letter from Georgia O’Keefe written to Rita Starpattern, one of the founders of Women & Their Work.
The Smithsonian will also preserve Women & Their Work’s website which is filled with details and images of exhibitions, education programs, and performances beginning in 1977. All of Women & Their Work’s publications—over 140—will be housed at the Smithsonian Library. Josh Franco PhD., the National Collector at the Smithsonian writes: “From its location in the heart of Texas, Women & Their Work has fostered feminist art and art by women from across the nation since the 1970s, and the Archives is thrilled to be the home of these records documenting its foundational decades.”
Women & Their Work’s mission is to foster the artistic growth of women artists by encouraging them to make new, adventurous work and to develop audiences for whom contemporary art is meaningful. For over 40 years, Women & Their Work has been a cornerstone of the Austin arts community and has actively developed the careers of more than 1,900 women artists, presenting hundreds of visual art exhibitions, music, dance and theater events, film festivals and education programs. Nationally recognized for the quality of its work, Women & Their Work has played an important role in the development of the visual and performing arts in Texas.
See full statement from Josh Franco PhD., National Collector at the Smithsonian below:
Containing nearly six thousand collections of artists’ papers and institutional records, as well as over two thousand oral histories, the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art is the world’s most comprehensive collection of primary source materials related to American art. The Women & Their Work records join those of many of their notable peers, institutions generated by dedicated grass-roots arts communities whose decades of work resulted in significant national impact. These include the records of Art in General, the Woman’s Building, Gallista Gallery, Modern Multiples, Artists Talk On Art, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Washington Project for the Arts, and many more.
In the Women & Their Work records, researchers will encounter a trove of individual artist files, documenting a broad section of the American art world through correspondence, work samples, and press clippings. Many of these artists, such as Howardena Pindell, have gone on to impressive careers, and these records offer a snapshot of some of their earliest milestones. Extensive documentation in the form of applications to various grants offer opportunities to closely study the development of an arts-based organization from budget-making to artist selection to curatorial conceptualizing. From its location in the heart of Texas, Women & Their Work has fostered feminist art and art by women from across the nation since the 1970s, and the Archives is thrilled to be the home of these records documenting its foundational decades.
Visit our Archive for more digital content from past exhibitions.
Featured image: Promotional photo for “In Mary’s House” a performance with music by Tina Marsh and choreography by Heloise Gold. It was staged Feb. 15-17, 1985, at Austin’s Dougherty Arts Center, a production of Women & Their Work. Photograph by Patti Polinard.