NORTHAMPTON, MASS.- The Smith College Museum of Art
will steward the personal art collections of Nina Yankowitz and Joyce Kozloff, feminist artists and longtime friends. These two distinctive collections focus on diverse works of art made by women artists from the 1960s to the present day.
Yankowitz donated 74 works of art to SCMA in 2016; Kozloff's gift of 190 works arrived at the museum in February 2018. Both Yankowitz and Kozloff are based in New York City.
Nina Yankowitz (born Newark, New Jersey, 1946) is known for her work in new media technology, site specific public installations and signature 1960's "Draped paintings" exhibited in New York and elsewhere. Yankowitz's 1970's Canvas Thread Reading painting was included in the first Whitney Biennial (1973). Her new media installations have blurred boundaries and interrogated both physical and virtual spaces. Like many artists, her collection evolved naturally. According to Yankowitz, "Most of the artworks I collected were of friends and those I respected in the community. I often purchased works at art auctions or benefits, and sometimes from an art gallery, although the Ree Morton Flag piece she made about me was included in her sailboat installation at N.Y. Harbor and years later I added it to my collection."
Joyce Kozloff (born Somerville, New Jersey, 1942) was a major figure in both the Pattern and Decoration and the Feminist art movements of the 1970s, and has continued her activist art practice since that time. In 1979, she began to focus on public art, increasing the scale of her installations and expanding the accessibility of her art to reach a wider audience. Since the early 1990s, Kozloff has utilized mapping as a device for consolidating her enduring interests in history, culture, and the decorative and popular arts. Speaking of her collection, Kozloff stated: "Like most artists, I own work by friends, mostly women... In recent years, I began to realize that altogether, these artworks represent a community at a certain moment in time. We were the first generation of American feminist artists, and as that period recedes, there is increased interest in our politics, collectives, dialogues and art."
Friends since the early 1970s, Kozloff and Yankowitz developed their collections separately. Yankowitz stated, "Our choice to donate to Smith came from merging goals to provide both museum exposure and astute educational investigations that spark inspirational inquiry for current and future generations to mine at Smith. I also hope our initiative inspires others to donate their personal art collections to Smith."
For both artists, these collections are very personal. According to Kozloff, "I have lived with these pieces, eaten on them, filled them with flowers, referred to them for information, and arranged them on my walls. They are my friends. It is sad to let them go, but the museum can take better care than I ever could, and they will be seen by a broad public. Wouldn't it be wonderful if other women artists donated their collections to [SCMA] and it became known as a center for this new kind of very personal collecting?"
The Yankowitz and Kozloff collections strengthen SCMA's ability to offer a deep and nuanced history of American Feminist art, substantively supporting research into the work and lives of creative women in the latter part of the 20th century. These important gifts also provide a springboard for SCMA to collect the work of artists who identify feminism as integral to their creative practice.