IRENE PESLIKIS

TOO SOON -- A LOSS FOR FEMINISM AND ART

Reported by Rosalyn Baxandall


There is so much more on Irene Peslikis

at the RedStockings' website!

www.afn.org/~redstock/irene

When we think of what it is that politicizes people it is not so much books or ideas but experience.
- Irene Peslikis

(Painting by Alice Neel)


Irene Peslikis, born 10/7/43 and died on 11/28/02 of all the pains and troubles that go with poverty, poor heath care, a devastating divorce and being crippled. She was feminist artist who was one of the principal founders and organizers of the entire women's art movement (especially on east coast). She organized the first show of 2nd Wave women artists, taught the first Women & Art course on a college campus, at the State University of New York at Old Westbury, and was a founder of the first feminist art school, the Feminist Art Institute, which ran a full-time radical feminist art education program for women for years. She was one of founders of the New York Studio School for Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, which broke away from Pratt in 1963 and opened in 1964 in the former Whitney and is still functioning. With another feminist artist, Pat Manairdi, Irene founded the journal Women & Art, which helped to make the great portraitist Alice Neel famous. (Alice Neel painted a portrait of Irene, which was just reproduced on the cover of the Summer 2002 issue of Feminist Studies.)

Photo: Jenny Brown, Redstockings Women's Liberation Archives for Action (www.redstockings.org)


She was also one of the founders of the NoHo gallery, one of the, if not the, first cooperative feminist art gallery. Her political cartoons, widely circulated in the early Women’s Liberation Movement years & published in feminist journals and in collections of the feminist movement like Dear Sisters, Dispatches from the Women’s Liberation Movement (Basic Books 2000). Irene was a founding member of Redstockings, the leading Feminist women’s theoretical and consciousness- raising group in New York City as well as a member of the earlier group NY Radical Women She wrote "Resistances to Consciousness" paper (printed in Notes from the Second Year), so important to the understanding of CR, and was a key organizer and participant of the infamous Redstocking Speak out on Abortion at Washington Sq Methodist Church. Anne Forer, an old friend from NY Radical Women described her as, "a loving, lively girl with spectacular generosity and helpfulness. She loved encouraging beginning artists. Because she loved art and the experience of doing art, she wanted everyone who wanted it to have it too. She was unique in understanding the uniqueness of each individual, and cherishing it above all.'' Before she became disabled she was a karate giant and long distance biker.

She taught at the City College of New York, the College of Staten Island, the College of New Rochelle and Ramapo College, was active in the Greek community and published art and art history and criticism in Rozinanta, Demokratia and Eleftheri-Patrida. Her brother and sister-in law, Michael and Cindy Peslikis of Bowling Green, Ohio, and her mother also of Bowling Green and her husband, Richard Castellana, survive her. The Peslikis family was raised in Jamaica, Flushing, and Richmond Hill, Queens. There will be a memorial at the Studio School sometime in the future.


Please visit the
RedStockings' website for more on Irene: www.afn.org/~redstock/irene

For more information call or send memories to:
Rosalyn Baxandall

E-Mail RosyBax@AOL.COM
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