NYFAI Founders, 1978:
Left to Right, Top Row: Miriam Schapiro, Carol Stonghilos
Bottom Row: Nancy Azara, Irene Peslikis, Lucille Lessane
(Selena Whitefeather not present)
BIOS OF FOUNDERS, 1979
Nancy Azara is a sculptor, a wood carver who is interested in woman's myth and ritual as source for her large totemic configurations.She has worked extensively with experimental programs and has designed and founded Vest Pocket Park with neighborhood teenagers. She has also taught sculpture at the Jewish Guild for the Blind and special classes at the School of Contemporary Studies at Brooklyn College. In addition, she has been an instructor at the Brooklyn Museum of Art School and a founding member and president of 14 Sculptors Gallery. Nancy's Website www.nancyazara.com, Nancy's Wikipedia Page
Lucille Lessane is an administrator who has worked with community-based organizations. She founded and co-ordinated a day-care center and organized several food cooperatives. Her experiences include managing an office in a private business. Her sensitivity to women's community work. She has a B.A. in Social Science from the New School for Social Research where she did a research study entitled, "Educational Philosophies." She is a marathon runner and currently works in Personnel at the New York State Department of Employment
Irene Peslikis is an artist who works with new techniques of photo-collage. She has been a major contributor to feminist theory and actions in New York City since 1968. She was a founding member of Redstockings, an author of "Women and Art." She helped found the New York Studio School and Noho Gallery. Currently she is teaching "Women and Art" at SUNY College at Old Westbury and women's studies at the College of New Rochelle. She says: " The rebel woman artist faces a set of complex contradictions; can she be part of the "female culture" and avoid its mystifications? What are the limitations on her art imposted by objective reality, by the denial of her own oppression, by the demands of her own regellion; and what are the advantages to her art given by her being both immanent object (woman) and transcendent subject (artist)?"
Miriam Schapiro, whose paintings are represented in museums nationwide, is a pioneer in the education of women artists. She co-founded the Feminist Art Program at the California Institue of the Arts which produced Womanhouse in 1972. Her love of fabrics, needlework by anonymous women and utilitarian objects inspires her work which is composed of tissue-thin layers found, patterned fabrics superimposed on each other. She has lectured and taught extensively and has been in residence as a professor at U.C.S.D., CalArts, Bryn Mawr, Tyler and Amherst College. Often on her trips she receives souvenirs such as handkerchiefs, ribbons, lace, embroidered tablecloths which she then incorporates in her art. She calls this aspect of her work "Femmage." Miriam combines a love of "turning students on" to feminism with a profound structural knowledge of the history of picture-making. She is very interested in visual diaries and feels that women artists hold a key to the cultural future of the world.
Carol Stronghilos is a painter and mother of two grown children. She lives alone and works in a loft in Soho. In her painting she is concerned with the extremes of landscape which she internalizes and recreates in the language of an energetic physical presence, made even clearer because of her use of powerful color. Her vast experience teaching people of all ages and her own personal history strongly motivate her towards an outreach recruiting program to attract diverse women from isolated communities to the New York Feminist Art Institute. Her experience in teaching ranges from the Brooklyn Museum of Art School (where she doubled as the treasurer) to the Brooklyn House of Detention. She is now a consultant for the America the Beautiful Fund where she helps iniate and establish community art schools. She has exhibited her paintings at the Whitney Museum, The Aldrich Museum, the Newark Museum and the Brooklyn Museum.
Selena Whitefeather is a book-artist (animal histories, space notes), fable collector, and video artist whose work has been shown at the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, The Institute of Modern ARt in Brisbane, Australia, as well as in international shows in Tokyo, Barcelona and Mexico City. In addition to visiting teaching positions at Mt. Allison University (N.B., Canada) and Moore College of Art, she has taught in public schools. Her other passions include the study of herbs and wildflowers. She says "For years I have been interested in plant and animal life in relation to our visions of ourselves. Ant trails, patterns of bird song recordings as well as herbs and wildflowers have been used in my art."