The Women Artists of the Rivington School are a diverse group of artists that has formed out of and beyond the patriarchal art community in which we first began working together. We are from France, Germany, Holland, Japan, Canada and the across the board span of America, who were originally brought together in an abandoned lot on Rivington and Forsyth Streets on the lower east side of Manhattan in the early 1980’s.
We are mature working women artists who have endured the changes in the world, the erasure of older artists within art institutions, increasingly inaccessible healthcare and mental health resources, and yet still celebrate lives that have been formed by our various experiences of The Rivington School. Our work ranges from welding and the 3-D Arts to painting, photography, and collage. We also have art performers, writers, videographers, dancers and choreographers.
We are survivors who exhibited side-by side with the often machismo men of The Rivington School in a time where the “men” ran the show. The Rivington School attracted artists from a variety of backgrounds drawn to the raw energy and a chance to be part of a non-traditional means of expression and exhibition.
It was a time when the city had forgotten about the LES. The LES had survived an apocalypse: abandoned crumbling buildings, empty storefronts, large empty lots, few opportunities and rampant drugs. The Rivington School engaged the neighborhood to take part in alternative ways of seeing and making art. Equipped with a forge ready for an addition of scrap metal, it became a sculpture garden like no other. Roasted pigs and BBQ grills made from trash cans nourished us and the neighborhood with both art and food.
The Women of Rivington School is a community that exists today, not in a physical space in New York City, but as a thriving international network dedicated to female empowerment. There is a herstory to be told of The Women Artists of Rivington School. Our artwork was informed by our exposure to a male dominated atmosphere in an area of poverty and deprivation. We remained independent artists in spite of the traditional roles society imposed upon us but could and would not be blinded by the blight and near-sightedness of the city and the world’s politics. We are cultural workers, reproductive workers, and activists who refuse to be ignored or deemed irrelevant in a world that has become largely inhospitable to such work. We are NOT invisible and will NOT be told we are expendable beings because of our ages. Our experiences in the art world and beyond are invaluable. We create in spite of social forces and yet are sometimes inspired by those same forces. We exist as integral parts in our communities and fight the wrongs as we see them.The solidarity of our voices need to be heard and shared.
The Women Artists of the Rivington School, WARS, received so much more than an ordinary education. We were part of a unique, exciting environment that embraced all types of artists and performers. The Rivington School was a movement that emerged from the Lower East Village, LES, art scene in the 1980s in New York City. Most of the artists of the Rivington School were either involved in welding, forging, performance or street art including painting, printmaking and collage. It was a dynamic and creative supportive community, albeit a masculine and rather macho one, it was after all the 1980's long before the "Me Too" movement.
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