Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Feminist Collectives: Womyn’s Lands of Southern Oregon

Ruth Mountaingrove
Lake of the Woods Gathering, 1974
Digitized archival  slide, 4 x 6 in
Courtesy Special Collections and University Archives,
University of Oregon Libraries
In the 1970s, feminists established a network of rural communities where women creatively lived and worked to reimagine life outside of patriarchy. The largest concentration of communities within this network—often referred to as womyn’s or lesbian lands—existed in southern Oregon. These communities offered their residents a range of unique experiences that put feminist principles into action.
In addition to creating a way for women of often modest means to own and care for land, these communities also endorsed communal living and the sharing of financial resources, offered bodily freedoms unavailable to women in mainstream society, promoted an erotic relationship to nature through art and ritual, and wholeheartedly embraced lesbianism against society’s prevailing view that it posed a threat to American civilization. This installation features the lifestyle and creative endeavors of WomanShare, one of the best-known womyn’s communities of southern Oregon established in 1974, and the feminist creative work of Ruth and Jean Mountaingrove produced at the Golden and Rootworks communities.

The womyn's communities undertook a number of publishing projects, including WomanSpirit, in which the below article is found.
Lois Haas "The first step of feminism is feeling good about yourself", 1975.
WomanSpirit, Spring Equinox, Volume 1, Number 3. Page 31.

Also included in the exhibition are a number of works from artist Tee Corinne, who was committed to the creation of positive images of women's bodies and sexuality. One of her publications was the Cunt Coloring Book, which includes "Over three dozen cunts of every size and description for you to color." Originally used for a sex-education class, the book remains in print today.

Tee Corinne
Cunt Coloring Book (San Francisco, Last Gasp Publication, 1975)
Book, 11 1/8 x 8 1/2 in


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