Mary Beth Edelson: Come Dressed As Your Favorite Artist & Healing Ritual for Carolee Schneemann, December 17, 1987, 110 Mercer Street

The Feminist Institute Digital Exhibit Project

Come Dressed as Your Favorite Artist, 1979-03-14, From the collection of: The Feminist Institute Digital Exhibit Project
Come Dressed as Your Favorite Artist
This image documents a dinner and costume party honoring Louise Bourgeois hosted by Mary Beth Edelson and Ana Mendieta at Mary Beth's loft in Soho on the 14th of March 1979. Mendieta was introduced to many women artists at this gathering. Guests included: Louise Bourgeois, Ana Mendieta, Mary Beth Edelson, Michelle Stuart, Joyce Kozloff, Hannah Wilke, Judith Bernstein, Anne Sharp, Susan Copper, Edit D'Ak, Barbara Moore, Patricia Hamilton, Phyllis Krim, Barbara Zucker, Poppy Johnson, Marcia Resnick, and Gloria MacDonald.
Come Dressed as Your Favorite Artist, 1979-03-14, From the collection of: The Feminist Institute Digital Exhibit Project
Mary Beth Edelson Studio, Kolin Mendez Photography, 2018-03-23, From the collection of: The Feminist Institute Digital Exhibit Project

After Mendieta untimely death in 1985, Edelson made a silkscreen homage to her friend.

Healing Ritual for Carolee Schneemann, Mary Beth Edelson, 1987-12-17, From the collection of: The Feminist Institute Digital Exhibit Project
Healing Ritual for Carolee Schneemann, December 17, 1987, 110 Mercer Street
Indicative of Edelson’s close connection with other feminist artists and her performative practices, she created a performance ritual for Carolee Schneemann in her 110 Mercer Street loft on December 17, 1987. "Healing Ritual for Carolee Schneemann (or Summer Wounds Healed in Winter)" engaged five others that included Gloria Orenstein, Clive Philpot, Elinor Gadon, Hank Gile, and Maura Sheehan. The photograph documents the ritual for which Edelson made an artist’s book that outlines the healing process for her friend, five pages of which are documented here.
Healing Ritual for Carolee Schneemann, Mary Beth Edelson, 1987-12-17, From the collection of: The Feminist Institute Digital Exhibit Project
Healing Ritual for Carolee Schneemann artist's book, Mary Beth Edelson, 1987-12-17, From the collection of: The Feminist Institute Digital Exhibit Project

The select pages describe Edelson’s intentions and the steps in which the participants would be involved. She writes in the book that the first half of the ritual is devoted to the dark goddess Ereshkigal (a Mesopotamian goddess of the underworld), while the later half is devoted to her sister the light goddess Inanna (a Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, also known as Ishtar). These references reflect Edelson’s interest in ancient goddesses as models and sources of strength for contemporary women, a subject matter that is seen throughout her artistic production as in her earlier "Goddess Tribe" installation. With this overarching framework, Edelson directed a series of steps that she, Schneemann, or the participants would partake. It followed that the participants would symbolically wound Schneemann with a painted “cut” on her skin as they painted/stated their own wounds. Schneemann would then speak of her loss and the “wounds” would be symbolically washed away. Each would adorn themselves with wound bracelets which would gradually wear away, as would Schneemann’s own. Schneemann’s own dark clothing would be cut off to reveal new clothing underneath, symbolizing a shedding and emergence anew. Edelson noted that “This ritual came to me with a full script in a dream.” (Edelson, "Shape Shifter: Seven Mediums," 45).

Healing Ritual for Carolee Schneemann artist's book, Mary Beth Edelson, 1987, From the collection of: The Feminist Institute Digital Exhibit Project
Healing Ritual for Carolee Schneemann artist's book, Mary Beth Edelson, 1987, From the collection of: The Feminist Institute Digital Exhibit Project
Healing Ritual for Carolee Schneemann artist's book, Mary Beth Edelson, 1987, From the collection of: The Feminist Institute Digital Exhibit Project
Healing Ritual for Carolee Schneemann artist's book, Mary Beth Edelson, 1987, From the collection of: The Feminist Institute Digital Exhibit Project
Healing Ritual for Carolee Schneemann artist's book, Mary Beth Edelson, 1987, From the collection of: The Feminist Institute Digital Exhibit Project
Credits: Story

Written by Dr. Kathleen Wentrack
(c) 2019 Kathleen Wentrack

Kathleen Wentrack, PhD, is a Professor of Art History at The City University of New York, Queensborough CC and the editor of the forthcoming book "Collaboration, Empowerment, Change: Women’s Art Collectives." She recently published “1970s Feminist Practice as Heterotopian: The Stichting Vrouwen in de Beeldende Kunst and the Schule für kreativen Feminismus,” in "All Women Art Spaces in the Long 1970s" edited by Agata Jakubowska and Katy Deepwell (Liverpool University Press, 2018). She is a contributing editor to Art History Teaching Resources and Art History Pedagogy and Practice and a co-coordinator of The Feminist Art Project in New York City.

Produced by Erica Galluscio

Photography of studio space provided by Kolin Mendez Photography

Accola Griefen Fine Art exhibition photos courtesy of Accola Griefen Fine Art: Rob van Erve

Images of "Goddess Tribe" installation courtesy of David Lewis New York


Select Bibliography

Buszek, Maria Elena. “Mothers and Daughters, Sluts and Goddesses: Mary Beth Edelson and Annie Sprinkle.” In: It’s Time for Action (There’s No Option). About Feminism. Ed. Heike Munder. Zurich: Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst and JRP/Ringier, 2007, 228-61.

Edelson, Mary Beth. The Art of Mary Beth Edelson. New York: Seven Cycles, 2002.

Edelson, Mary Beth. Firsthand: Photographs by Mary Beth Edelson, 1973-1993 and Shooter Series. Essay by Jan Avgikos, “No Reverse Gear.” Mary Beth Edelson: New York, 1993.

Edelson, Mary Beth. Interview with Kathleen Wentrack. New York, 12 September 2008.

Edelson, Mary Beth. "Male Grazing: An Open Letter to Thomas McEvilley.” In: Feminism-Art-Theory: An Anthology, 1968-2000.” Ed. Hilary Robinson. Oxford: Blackwell, 2001, 592-94. First published as “Objections of a ‘Goddess Artist:’ An open Letter to Thomas McEvilley.” New Art Examiner 16, No. 8 (April 1989): 34-38.

Edelson, Mary Beth. “Pilgrimage/See for Yourself: A Journey to a Neolithic Goddess Cave, 1977. Grapceva, Hvar Island Yugoslavia.” Heresies: A Feminist Publication of Art and Politics #5, Spring 1978: 96-99.

Edelson. Mary Beth. Seven Cycles: Public Rituals. With an Introduction by Lucy R. Lippard." New York: Mary Beth Edelson, 1980.

Edelson. Mary Beth. Shape Shifter: Seven Mediums. New York: Mary Beth Edelson, 1990.

Edelson. Mary Beth. “Success Has 1,000 Mothers: Art and Activism from Mary Beth Edelson’s Point of View.” In: Women’s Culture in a New Era: A Feminist Revolution? Ed. Gayle Kimball. Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press, 2005, 27-60..

Freitag, Barbara. Sheela-Na-Gigs: Unraveling an Enigma. London: Routledge, 2004

Gimbutas, Marija. Gods and Goddess of Old Europe, 7000 to 3500 BC/Myths, Legends, and Cult Images. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.

Griefen, Kat. “Considering Mary Beth Edelson’s Some Living American Women Artists.” The Brooklyn Rail, March 2019, 38-9.

Höglinger, Nora. “Mary Beth Edelson: “The Goddess is Us.” In: Feminist Avant-Garde: Art of the 1970s, The Sammlung Verbund Collection, Vienna. Ed. Gabriele Schor. Munich: Prestel Verlag, 2016, 120-25.

Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses. Ed. Vincent Hale and Vincent Croce. New York: Britannica Educational Publishing and Rosen Publishing Group, 2014.

Stone, Merlin. When God Was a Woman. New York: Dial Press, 1976.

Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution. Ed. Lisa Gabrielle Mark. Los Angeles: The Museum of Contemporary Art, 2007.

Winifred Milius Lubell, The Metamorphosis of Baubo: Myths of Women’s Sexual Energy, Nashville and London: Vanderbilt University Press, 1994

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