A Journal of Art Criticism

Published by the South Bay Area Women's Caucus for Art
Volume 6, Number 1, 1998

Dahilsa Yo E. V., screened imagery on mixed media, by Terry Acebo Davis, 66"x84"x18", 1997.

Self-Inventory and The Other

"Terry Acebo Davis " Victoria Alba "Willa Briggs
" Sana` Makhoul " Hollis Sigler " Maxine
Solomon " Margaret Stanton Murray "


From the Editor:

To begin with, we would like personally to thank Karen Haas for founding and editing (detail) for the past five years. It is a publication that has done serious work to fill the void of art writing for, by and about women artists in the Bay Area. Past issues have put into print: criticism, images, poetry, fiction, analytical texts, and historical reassessments. Without Haass foresight, energy and dedication, none of this would have taken place. She has firmly established (detail) as a publication of the highest quality, while maintaining its grass-roots foundation. She is a hard act to follow.

By splitting the editorship into a bilateral position, we think the importance of dialogue will stay focused in these pageswe do not always see things the same way. Similarly, the South Bay Area Womens Caucus for Art is not a homogeneous organization; artists here, in this county and its surrounding communities, have many voices. The intensity of art activity stimulates a dialogic environment, and (detail) will continue to capture and further the threads of these discussions.

In this issue we have a goal: to present different views on establishing or modifying identity through involvement with the Other in a globally interconnected world. This involves, we believe, an investigation of the interaction of self and Other as a means of self-examination, or self-inventory, in order to decolonize our minds and our imaginations. We know that this examination requires looking into our own stereotypes and belief systems with a deconstructive spirit.

Our first writer, Sana` Makhoul, recovers the work of Algerian artist Baya Mahieddine in order to lay out quite clearly the ways the Western art world has distorted its understandingand thus the legacyof a non-European womans artistic production. Makhoul, in a challenge to the authority of accepted Western critics, takes issue with their patronizing, Euro-centric conceptual structures.

Victoria Alba, in an interview with artist Terry Acebo Davis, brings out the importance of Filipino cultural and racial identity for this artists work. She traces the multiple ways that self-awareness hinges on social interactions, and how anger, pride and even humor, when wedded to rights activism, can bring complex connections to visual expression.With haunting memories of herself as she lived in England, Willa Briggs undertakes the unweaving of perception, empathy and imagination in an-Other place. She embraces the effect other lives have on her art making even as, more importantly, she evidences how art itself caused her own life to change.

Self-examination reverberates ten-fold when, like Margaret Stanton Murray and Hollis Sigler, medical situations force us to literally peel back our skins to find the Other within. Stanton Murrays article surveys societys responses to our fight against breast cancer, and asserts the necessity for, and strength of, artists who speak personally and profoundly about this disease.

Finally, Maxine Solomon takes our cultural neo-colonialism (to borrow a term from Makhoul) to task when she finds it leaving heavy marks in a country remote from tourism or corporate expansion. Her willingness to get involved brought her to a self-inventory that informs both art and politics in our own back yard.

Christine Laffer and Helen Wood


Self-Inventory and The Other

(detail) gratefully acknowledges support from the Arts Council of Santa Clara County PARTNERS Pooled Funds including support from the City of San José. Copyright 1998 South Bay Area Women's Caucus for Art. All rights reserved. No part of the contents may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher.


EDITORS: Christine Laffer, Helen Wood
ART DIRECTOR: Alayne Yellum
PROMOTIONS: Sarah Ratchye
WEB SITE: Saelon Renkes

The South Bay Area Women's Caucus for Art is an organization of 200 arts professionals. Our purpose is to educate the public about the contribution of women to the arts and to ensure inclusion of women in the history of art, while respecting differences in age, religion and cultural heritage. Women and men interested in membership please call 408-286-5428. Please send letters to: Editor, 88 Brooklyn Avenue, San Jose, CA 95128.