“I am a woman, a mother, a grandmother. The children I have borne and the children I have buried have altered my existence in a way so powerful that I have no alternative but to give in to it. And giving in to it, I have gained in ways that have allowed me to live with a goal, an intent, a dedication and a constant prayer that all I believe is important in the world will continue to exist.” Diosa Summers
In Memory of Our Sister, Diosa Summers (Mississippi Choctaw)
Coast to Coast: A Women of Color National Artists’ Project was organized in 1987 as an exhibition called Coast to Coast: A Women of Color National Artists’ Book Project. Clarissa Sligh was asked by Faith Ringgold along with Margaret Gallegos to collaborate in the organization of the exhibition for The Women’s Caucus for Art National Conference in Houston, Texas. The goal was to establish a venue for the exhibition of the exceptional talent of women artists of color. In addition, the project provided an opportunity for the women to collaborate and develop dialogues.
Two hundred artists from over thirty states were represented in the first exhibition. Hispanic, Native American, Middle Eastern, Far Eastern and African American women celebrated the complex experience of being women of color in America. Using materials such as audiotape, leather, quilts, gourd skin, pulp paper, photographs, boxes and bags, they created individually and collaboratively artists’ books.
Coast to Coast: A Women of Color National Artists’ Book Project toured nationally to at least ten institutions. Panel discussions, lectures, and workshops provided an opportunity for artists to exchange ideas cross-culturally and to overcome centuries of ethnic misinformation. Additional projects were to follow.
Clarissa Sligh, 2006.
Selected Images from Coast to Coast
Coast to Coast Women Artists of Color Brief Chronology
Compiled by Clarissa Sligh
February 1986. Worked with Annie Shaver-Crandell to organize the National Women’s Caucus for Art National Conference in New York. During the process, I met Deborah Willis and Faith Ringgold.
February 14, 1987. It is Time to End Our Isolation – Women of African Descent in the Visual Arts, February 14, 1987, gathering at the home of Julia Hotton in New York City. Organized by Clarissa Sligh with Deborah Willis. Participants were videotaped with the idea of producing a video document, but the tapes were lost to an editor.
Spring 1987. The Home Show, Goddard-Riverside, New York, NY. Curated by Faith Ringgold, who asks me while we were installing the show, if I would work with her on a national project for women of color.
Spring 1987. “Coast to Coast: A Women of Color National Artist’s Book Project” was initiated to elicit the participation of women of color in the visual arts to make an artist’s book. Faith Ringgold conceived of the project. She asked Margaret Gallegos in Los Angeles to be the West Coast Coordinator. When she originally talked with me about it, she said the idea had come from her participation in “It is Time to End Our Isolation – Women of African Descent in the Visual Arts” and from meetings with West Coast artists of color.
February, 1988. First Exhibition – Coast to Coast: A Women Color National Artists’ Book Project at Diverse Works Gallery, Houston, for the Women’s Caucus for Art National Conference in Houston, Texas.
November, 1988. East Coast women, who had helped to form the steering committee, present a panel for the Artists Talk on Art series at Soho 20 Gallery in New York.
1989 – 1990 – Coast to Coast National Women Artists’of Color book exhibition traveling to:
The College of Wooster Art Museum, Wooster,OH, January 15 – Feb 19, 1989.
DePauw University Art Museum, Greencastle, IN. March 27 – April 21, 1989,
The Center for Book Arts, New York, N.Y. June 8, 1989 – August 4, 1989.
The University of Michigan School of Art Museum, Ann Arbor, MI, October 30 – November, 1989.
The Radford University Flossie Martin Gallery, Radford, VA, Jan 15 – Feb 2, 1990.
The Eubie Blake Center and The Baltimore Museum, Baltimore, MD, Feb 26 – Mar 31, 1990
Baltimore Museum, Baltimore, MD, Feb 18 – Mar 14, 1990
Artemisia Gallery, Chicago, IL, The Jamaica Arts Center, Queens, NY, April 6 – April 28, 1990.
The Jamaica Arts Center, Queens, NY, August 7 – Sept 22, 1990.
PRESS & LINKS
Briggins, Angela. “Sisterhood: Positivity on the Rebound.” City Sun, (July 26-Aug. 1, 1989).