Schapiro, The Poet #2, 1984, acrylic and fabric
on canvas. 108 x 72 inches.
Born in 1923 in Toronto, Ontario.
Schapiro found success early as a hard-edge geometric-style painter. Influenced
by the feminist movement of the early 1970s, she changed her style radically,
embracing the use of textiles as symbolic of feminine labor. She is credited
with establishing the movement called Pattern and Decoration (or P & D).
This art movement challenged traditional Western European art by foregrounding
decorative patterns and textiles from other cultures such as Chinese,
Indian, Islamic, and Mexican.
Schapiro coined the term "femmage," which stands for the female laborer's
hand-sewn work (such as embroidery, quilting, cross-stitching, etc.) that
rivals and precedes the "high-art" collage. The Poet #2 combines
pattern with painting. Schapiro comments, "I felt that by making a large
canvas magnificent in color, design, and proportion, filling it with fabrics
and quilt blocks, I could raise a housewife's lowered consciousness."
Her involvement with consciousness-raising efforts, for which she traveled
nationwide encouraging women to form support groups and emerge from isolation,
earned her the nickname Mimi Appleseed.