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Agony in the Garden

Miriam Schapiro

This large-scale painting is one in an ongoing Collaboration series begun in the mid-1970s, in which Schapiro dialogues with and pays homage to famous women artists, in this instance Frida Kahlo, whose self-portrait The Broken Column, 1944, is reproduced in the center. Schapiro is a pioneering feminist artist who, with Judy Chicago, founded the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts in 1971, the first program of its kind to encourage women to make art from their personal experiences. A leader in the Pattern and Decoration movement, Schapiro is known for her “femmages,” or collage paintings, which aim to reclaim traditional handicrafts associated with women’s work, such as embroidery and sewing. Stylistically this painting mimics the look of a collage, recalling Schapiro’s long-standing commitment to the belief that decorative elements and women’s work are viable artistic means to express female experience, having both political and subversive potential.

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