Desire/Change: Contemporary Feminist Art in Canada
There has been remarkably little written about Canadian feminist artists and art practices. This important history is in danger of being lost. Now, perhaps more than ever before, the time is ripe for a discussion of the role of art within feminism. Feminist analysis has once again entered our culture's zeitgeist. Dialogue regarding missing and murdered Aboriginal women and recent sexual assault scandals have opened nation-wide discussions regarding gendered power dynamics. Awareness around unrealistic beauty and weight standards has grown. Young women are speaking out against misogynistic cyber-bulling. For decades, Canadian and Manitoban artists have been producing work addressing issues, including but not limited to these, and have helped to create the current climate of change.
MAWA has created a manuscript, “Desire/Change”, edited by Dr. Heather Davis and containing the writings of historians, theorists, critics and artists from coast to coast. As well as 14 essays examining different regions, movements and themes, it will have a ground-breaking timeline of Canadian feminist art. The completed, edited manuscript is currently making its way through the peer review process to ensure the highest degree of accuracy and integrity.
“Desire/Change" will be a textbook used by university women’s studies and art departments, and by MAWA's year-long Foundation Mentorship Program. It will be tool to foster spirited dialogue, argument and debate regarding women in the visual arts today. It will be an important document of Canadian art history that has not previously been recorded. As one of only three women’s visual art centres in the country, MAWA is the natural choice to undertake such a project. We have the “brain capital”, having worked with feminist artists, art educators, theorists and writers for the past 30 years. Because this project will be of national importance and use, it will be a legacy (of the artists and of MAWA) that will live into the future.
We are pleased that McGill Queens University Press is joining us in co-publishing this book. Their involvement will ensure high production standards and a degree of credibility that an academic press affords and their experience in distribution means that this book will reach the hands of artists, academics and the general public.
The Manitoba community has produced some of the most revered feminist artists in Canada, including Caroline Dukes, Esther Warkov, Wanda Koop, Eleanor Bond and Sarah Anne Johnson, to name but a few. It is important that the work of artists such as these be contextualized, documented and celebrated. MAWA would be honoured to have your participation in this book that will not only document history but, as the first of its kind, will make history. It is MAWA's hope that this book will be the first among many; that it will inspire further scholarship. Success will also be measured by the dialogue “Desire/Change” inspires and the many other writings it foments. MAWA knows we cannot create a definitive text. We can only begin.
We ask you to consider becoming an “artgodmother” and contributing $1,000 to sponsor a chapter, or an “artauntie” and contributing $330 to sponsor image reproduction. These fees will be paid directly to the writers and the artists whose works are being reproduced, and the donors will be credited in the preface. Or become an “artsister” and donate any amount to be used in any way necessary to bring this project to fruition. We know that, together, we can make this project happen, the same way everything at MAWA always has: through the contributions of many.