4/16/10 3:32 PM
Second wave feminism arose in the early 1970s to call for women’s rights alongside the other civil rights movements of the day. Women artists like Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro were right there alongside women doctors and professors and homemakers (and many combinations thereof), making an essentialist art that took women’s bodies and histories as its focus. Long missing from all of their ranks, however, were women of color and lesbians. Enter Susan Marie Moreno de la Garñica, who for the past twenty years has been making her own version of essentialist art, one that keeps to many of the tropes of those second wave feminists but with a brown, woman-loving-woman twist. What this amounts to in terms of actual objects are bas-reliefs that depict brown labias and brown women pleasuring themselves. De la Garñica’s choice of clay as material is particularly apt, especially in a piece like “Moan,” where she allows it to stand for the subject’s skin color. But in continuing to make work of this kind long after other artists have moved on, de la Garñica risks suggesting that the issues concerning women and women’s rights have themselves not moved on much since the 1970s. Maybe for some they haven’t.