About the Author
Women artists of the American West have a legacy that is of particular interest to me. Having been born as a second and third generation San Francisco Bay Area Jewish American (on my mother's and father's sides, respectively), I was raised with unquestioning belief in the fact that the West is my home. However, from my first exposure to art as a college freshman, I was compelled to live on the East Coast of the United States. There, I went to graduate school and worked as a curator for a few years before returning with my New York raised (then) husband to San Francisco, where I have lived, raised my children and been a writer, curator, teacher and artist for almost twenty years.
Trained as an art historian, but always most interested in the art of the last ten minutes, I have spent much of my career excited by the zeitgeist of each contemporary period and the historical connections that feed the artistic energy and conceptual activity of any given period. During the 1990s, my focus has run a course apropos to the times, moving from more media-based perspectives through which to understand the affinities of unlike artists, to more socially, politically and culturally based concerns. The thinking and production of women artists, and especially those of the extended San Francisco Bay Area, have been central to my interests. My writings, curatorial projects and teaching have been filled with investigations and perspectives surrounding race, gender, class and ethnicity.
The themes with which I have worked and have particular interest for me include identity, memory, self-image and fragmentation - both intertwined and separately - which have culminated in exhibitions like Mirror, Mirror: Gender Roles and the Historical Significance of Beauty (1994) and Betrothed: Contemporary Perspectives on the Bride (1996). My writings include numerous monographs about women artists and a recent article about Women Artists' Dreams of Flight (which grew out of a 1994 curatorial project Fragments of Flight). My photographic studio work (which has included images of my body merged with those of my children), recently consummated in an invitation to write the catalog for the exhibition From Within: Motherhood and Creativity.
In early 1966 I had the opportunity to teach the course "History of Women Artists" at Santa Clara University, which experience solidified my commitment to helping rewrite the canon in order to appropriately represent women artists. In revising the representation of any historical period, whether past or present, inserting the work and writings of local women artists has enabled me to engage on deep levels with creative women in my community. The experience has been remarkable.
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All text © Terri Cohn.