CERRIDWEN SALON -- OPENING SPEECH

Gloria Feman Orenstein

(Note: The text below is reproduced as closely as possible to the original. It includes page numbers, which in the original appear at the top of the page.)
December 6, 1980

I welcome you joyfully to our new salon of the multi-arts, CERRIDWEN, named for the Celtic Goddess who presided over the sacred cauldron of wisdom and inspiration.

Were this the 18th century in France, we might have had to create separate salons for each of the arts. At least that is what Mme. Geoffrin was obliged to do, because the visual artists of her time simply did not get along with the writers and philosophers who attended her literary salons. Thus, she was forced to open a salon for painters on a different day of the week. But, in the Feminist Art Movement, a new vision has emerged from a consciousness affirming that women artists are enriched by the creative works of their sisters in every medium of aesthetic expression.

As a critic who writes about both literature and the visual arts, I have long been aware of the need that exists for women in the arts to meet in an interdisciplinary, multi-media setting, and it has long been my dream to make this possible. I feel that this salon is an important educational forum which can bring about many revolutionary transformations in the art world. One of my hopes is that women will now begin to cross artistic frontiers, to attend and participate in each others' events in a variety of arts. Such support for women's work should easily increase audiences for theatrical, musical , and dance performances, as well as potential readers, buyers, and reviewers for

p.2

books and for visual works. It should promote as well an exciting new collaboration among women working in a diversity of media.

An example of such a collaboration will be seen this evening, for we will be hearing the music that Roberta Kosse has composed for Karen Malpede's new play, A MONSTER HAS STOLEN THE SUN. I know several visual artists who have often expressed a desire to collaborate with a feminist playwright on the decor of a theatrical production, and I hope that CERRIDWEN will bring all of you together so that out of this salon many inspiring new works of women's vision will be born.

I am particularly happy that this new salon will feature previews of two theatre works-in-progress. I feel that this precedent of previewing new works should definitely contribute to the development of new audiences for them when they open. This is a feature of our salon that I should like to perpetuate in future programs.

I think that the International Festival of Women Artists which took place in Copenhagen this past summer (1980) gave those of us who attended it an excellent idea of just how exciting and important it is to bring women from the various arts together. It is that spirit of sharing, exchange, and communion--of learninq from each other and opening oneself up to new forms of expression that I wanted to bring back with me to New York. I was in Copenhagen with Marcia Miller, a personal friend, who was a regular frequenter of The Woman's Salon for Literature. Marcia is a writer and an active member of The Feminist Writers' Guild. In

p.3

Copenhagen we shared deeply the literary and artistic experiences of the festival and it is from this artistic friendship that there developed a desire to work together to create our new salon in the multi-arts. As in the great salon tradition of the past, I am delighted to transmit my salon experience to Marcia and to welcome her to our joint work on creating a new cultural vision. Marcia and I share many other interests as well. When she talks to you about her Goddess pilgrimages to the great Stone Circles last summer, I think you will see that we have a spiritual affinity, and that our work on the salon is one of deep respect for each other's ideas, tastes, and beliefs.

Our dream is to see this salon move from space to space, -to visit artists' studios or performance spaces, to make use of public spaces as well, and to travel throughout the city, creating salons on particular themes which show the parallelism and diversity in women is creativity today.

My research in Salon History has taught me that the creation of culture is more than just the sum total of the works produced by artists--it is a complete fabric that emerges in direct relationship to the institutions of a particular society. In the 18th century, salons supported those revolutionary works that challenged the establishment of church and state--the works that fomented the French revolution. Today, we are entering a period in which the salon will be more vitally needed than ever. As government funds and support for the arts diminish, the salon can provide visibility for works that might otherwise remain unnoticed, for innovative ideas that might be destroyed

p.4

in other settings. I invite all of you to sign our sheets indicating spaces and talents that you have, and we will contact you and plan programs for future salons, coordinating them according to theme, media, and space available. Now I take great pleasure in introducing Marcia Miller.


Do not reproduce information from this site without acknowledgement.
For questions, email to Ruth Wallach, USC Libraries


Back to Background Documents