May 25, 2019 | 69° F

Feminist Art Project teaches students about women and transgender artists

Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

Photo Illustration | The Feminist Art Project is celebrating its 10th year as a program that helps women and transgender artists share their work with a like-minded community of fellow artists.

The arts may seem to be male-centric, but one organization at Rutgers is shedding light on the accomplishments of female and transgender artists. 

The Feminist Art Project (TFAP) was established in 2006 as a program of the Center for Women in the Arts and Humanities at Rutgers, said Nicole Ianuzelli, manager of Programs and Exhibitions at the Center Women in Arts and Humanities.

It is an international program that celebrates the Feminist Art Movement and the influence that women have had artistically, politically and intellectually on the visual arts. 

The organization not only refocuses on the achievements of the Feminist Art Movement of the 1970s but also highlights present-day feminist art, trends and successes, according to the program's website.

During the time of its establishment, other female-related art institutions were also on the rise, which made its significance even greater for society, Ianuzelli said via email.

“At (that) time (in 2006), many historic events were on the horizon, such as the anniversaries of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Women's Caucus for Art, as well as the opening of the Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum,” she said.

It was the perfect time to develop an action plan at the University to present, promote and highlight the accomplishments of women and transgender artists, she said. 

The project provides women and transgender artists a global community to be part of, along with an outlet to release their works to, Ianuzelli said. 

Students on campus agree with the importance of having such a program, Ianuzelli said.

“Students who interact with TFAP either by interning or attending events become socially aware individuals who are invested in uplifting anyone, not only in the arts, that is marginalized,” Ianuzelli said.

Women are downplayed in society and deserve an opportunity to have a place in society, said Jennifer Calderon, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. 

“The famous painters that I know are Van Gogh and Picasso, but I cannot recall from the top of my head many female artists," she said. 

Many female students, such as Calderon, believe that the effort of TFAP is necessary because it can educate them on the creative work of female artists that they may have never known before, she said.

Becoming exposed to art that goes beyond the male identity allows for students to feel more connected with society, Calderon said. 

“I definitely think that TFAP is necessary because people will be exposed to a whole new perspective. Women share a different point of view from men, and their art shows it," Calderon said. "People need to appreciate both sides of art, by men and women.”

The organization is essential to students and faculty because it represents the University's ability to nurture and provide unique sources which enrich the social landscape, Ianuzalli.

Art history has been primarily shaped by men, said Sara Perryman, a professor in the Department of Women and Gender Studies. Most of what critics call "fine art" has also been historically created by men.

Perryman recently read a piece on a black female quilt maker who makes political quilts, but quilting was not considered an art in the past, she said. 

"I feel like what we conceive of as art, and who we conceive of as artists has predominantly been males, particularly white males," she said.

TFAP is not only a community that fosters acknowledgment of various feminist issues but also educates people on other issues that impact society at large, Perryman said.

“I think that the Feminist Art Project is fabulous because it explicitly promotes art that is not just by women or about women, but has a particular perspective on women’s experiences and takes up issues such as race, gender, sexuality, ability, age, etc. and produces art that makes us think about those things," Perryman said.

Sajayah Baker is a Rutgers Business School first-year student majoring in management. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.

Sajayah Baker

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