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The mission of the Women's Caucus for Art is to create community through art, education, and social activism

Legacy Initiative

Sylvia Sleigh Legacy Campaign and Initiative

The Sylvia Sleigh Legacy Campaign and Initiative, facilitates donations and raises funds to ensure that women’s art will be cataloged, collected and preserved in museums and institutions throughout the country.

The Legacy Initiative has six goals:

                  • To educate women on the importance of their legacy and cataloging and archiving their work and their papers.
                  • To facilitate the placement of women’s art in museums and permanent collections.
                  • To publish articles, essays and catalogs on women artists.
                  • To continue to cultivate and grow current WCA’s programs that focus on legacy.
                  • To partner with and support other organizations that are working towards the same goals and mission of WCA
                  • To procure funding to meet these goals through development of WCA programs on fiscal receivership, sponsorship                      and planned giving.

This important initiative was made possible by the generous donations of the Estate of the late Sylvia S. Alloway. Sylvia Sleigh, an artist and life long advocate for women in the arts, was selected to receive the WCA Lifetime Achievement Awards in 2011, but passed away before receiving the award.

In 2011, the President of WCA, Janice Nesser-Chu, worked closely with the executors of Sleigh’s estate, Douglas John and Paula Ewin, to begin to develop and facilitate the Legacy campaign. The first donation to WCA was Sylvia’s piece “Turkish Bath.” This funding is the foundation for the campaign and will be the impetus to encourage others to follow in her footsteps. In partnering with the Women’s Caucus for Art, Sylvia’s legacy will insure that the work continues, that women are exhibited and written into history.

WCA looks forward to partnering with other donors and arts institutions in expanding its Legacy Campaign and Initiative. In November 2011, we facilitated a donation of Sylvia Sleigh’s piece to the permanent collection of a museum at a women’s college in Oakland, California – Mills College. Lawrence and Susanna Delgado in an Interior, 1968, will now be on view to be appreciated and studied by the next generation of women art historian and artists.

The partnership will also allow the WCA to be more philanthropic and aid others in making sure that women’s art is recognized and valued.

Donations from the Sleigh estate has given WCA the opportunity to help support other non-profits focusing on women and the arts, as well as, build a fund for future initiatives.

In January 2012, the donation of Kim Hardiman Nukua, The Divine Woman, 1984 allowed WCA to support the work of both Soho20Gallery and Masterpieces, a lecture series by Dr. Janetta Rebold Benton. And in February, the donation of Christine, 1969, allowed WCA to support the Art For Kids program administered by the Claremont Rotary who helps various local charities in Claremont, CA. which is in eastern Los Angeles County. In April, the donation of Demonstration Model at the New School, ND helped WCA fund the Sleigh tour. And in November 2012 the donation of Self Portrait with Lipstick, 1961 and Untitled Still Life, 1954 helped WCA support A.I.R. Gallery, support the WCA 2013 Lifetime Achievement Awards, and continue to build the Legacy Initiative Fund.

In the winter of 2011, the Legacy Initiative began to work with the state of Sylvia Sleigh on possibility of an American and European Tour of Sylvia Sleigh’s work. The WCA has been instrumental in supporting the tour, and WCA is listed as on all publicity and historical materials as a sponsor of the tour. The tour is the most comprehensive retrospective to date by Sylvia Sleigh (1916 -2010). It consists of works spanning more than sixty years. Amongst them are numerous portraits, which serve as a map of the dynamic art scene of the 1960s and 1970s in New York, still life and landscapes. The retrospective has already been on view at the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen and the Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux CAPC . The next stop is in February at the Tate Museum Liverpool. For more information on the Tate exhibition: www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-liverpool/exhibition/sylvia-sleigh

In the Summer of 2012, the Legacy Initiative worked on a partnership with Florissant Valley Contemporary Art Gallery to sponsor an exhibition and catalog featuring the work of 2011 Lifetime Achievement Honoree Beverly Buchanan. Buchanan is an African American women artist who explores Southern vernacular architecture in her Art.  Buchanan is also the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, a Pollock-Krasner Award, and two National Endowments for the Arts Fellowships. She was a Georgia Visual Arts honoree, a recipient of an Anonymous Was a Woman Award, and was honored by the College Art Association Committee for Women in the Arts.  Buchanan's work is included in numerous private and public collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NY, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA.

The exhibition that ran August 20 through October 13 was the first major retrospect of Buchanan's work in the St. Louis area. "Home- space place memory" included more than 30 works including oil pastels and sculpture.  A full color catalog, with essays by Lucy Lippard and Patricia Phagan was produced and is available on the WCA website. The Legacy Initiative is currently looking for other venues in the Midwest to travel this exhibition.

The initiative is currently working on a 2nd exhibition featuring WCA Lifetime Honoree Howardena Pindell that will open in March 2014.

On February 15, 2013, the Women Caucus for Art presented a panel at the College Art Association Conference in New York entitled, “Building a Legacy for Women Artists.” The panel was moderated by Barbara Wolanin and contained presentations by several prominent women in the art field.

Abstracts included:
Building a Legacy for Women Artists: Introduction
Barbara Wolanin
Women’s Caucus for Art
Curator for the Architect of the Capitol

Changing the Future:  The Women's Caucus for Art and The Feminist Art Project
Anne Swartz
Savannah College of Art and Design

Etched in Memory:  Rutgers Institute for Women and Art,
Feminist Art Activism and Legacy Building at a Public Institution
Ferris Olin
Professor Emerita at Rutgers University
Founding Co-director of the Rutgers Institute for Women and Art

Making History:  Art, Gender and the Women’s Museum
Susan Fisher Sterling
Alice West Director, National Museum of Women in the Arts

Women Artists’ Legacies: Forming Foundations and Documenting Works
Joan Marter
Board of Governors Professor of Art History, Rutgers University
Editor, Woman’s Art Journal

40 years of Building a Legacy for Women Artists:
From the Lifetime Achievement Awards to the Sylvia Sleigh Legacy Initiative
Janice Nesser-Chu
Past President, Women’s Caucus for Art, WCA Legacy Campaign Director
Chair, Art & Humanities Department and Professor of Art,
St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley

The WCA is currently working on a video of the panel and a possible publication on this topic.
To listen to the audio of the lecture: (Click Refresh Button if player does not show)


For more information on or to be a part of the Legacy Initiative contact
Janice Nesser-Chu
WCA Legacy Campaign Director 2012-14
WCA President 2010-12


SF Weekly recently published an article about Sylvia Sleigh's painting, Lawrence and Susanna Delgado, which was exhibited during Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze and afterwards donated to Mills College. WCA worked with the estate of Sylvia Sleigh to make this happen. This gift launched WCA's Legacy Initiative, headed by Janice Nesser-Chu, WCA Past President andChair WCA Legacy Initiative.



Body Hair Included: Mills College Gets a Painting by Feminist Artist Sylvia Sleigh By Alexis Coe Fri., May 4 2012 at 9:30 AM Categories: Art, History, Recent Acquisitions, Visual Art

The man's exposed ankle in Lawrence and Susanna Delagado in an interior (1968) is more significant than it looks. Cultural institutions in San Francisco continually search for new acquisitions. Alexis Coe brings you the most important, often wondrous, sometimes bizarre, and occasionally downright vexing finds each week.

In one painting, a nude man poses as a reclining odalisque, a female slave in an Ottoman seraglio. In another, a man's bare back meets the viewer as he directs his attention to five male companions. Sylvia Sleigh (1916-2010) had no problem challenging art history in her paintings, exposing traditional themes as stereotypical at best, and degrading at worst. Women had too often been "painted as objects of desire in humiliating poses," Sleigh once said. "I don't mind the 'desire' part, it's the 'object' part that's not very nice."

More at this link http://blogs.sfweekly.com/exhibitionist/2012/05/body_hair_included_mills_colle.php

Download the full article PDF