Torture of Women Series
Art 21 Blog on “Torture of Women” Series
on Nancy Spero
Nancy Spero Bio and Obit excerpted from Lime Blog:
Nancy Spero (1926-2009)
Nancy Spero was an American visual artist and activist whose career lasted for 50 years. According to the Michigan Chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art’s, Official Blog, when discussing the sexism evident in the art world, Spero once said, “I’ve always sought to express a tension in form and meaning in order to achieve a veracity. I have come to the conclusion that the art world has to join us, women artists, not we join it. When women are in leadership roles and gain rewards and recognition, then perhaps ‘we’ (women and men) can all work together in art world actions.” The PBS series Art21 (Art in the 21st Century) website describes Spero’s work as follows: “… an unapologetic statement against the pervasive abuse of power, Western privilege, and male dominance.” Spero’s work was mostly executed on paper and in large public installations worldwide. Using women as protagonists, Spero’s work focused on reinforcing her principles of equality and tolerance by drawing on historical events as well as contemporary news for inspiration including the extermination of Jews in the Holocaust, the torture of women in Nicaragua and the atrocities of the Vietnam War. Embarrassingly for me, I only became aware of Nancy Spero some time in 2004 when I was making the decision to become an artist. My research lead me to two of her most memorable works for me personally, Torture in Chile (1974) and the long scroll, Torture of Women (1976, 20 inches x 125 feet). Both depicted the horror and brutality inflicted on women using real oral accounts of torture taken from Amnesty International reports- the works represented previously invisible histories of real women and wove them with real events happening at that time. Spero died of heart Failure in 2009 at the age of 83.