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Joan Semmel papers, 1949-2013, bulk 1960-2013

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Catherine S. Gaines
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter Joan Semmel measure 5.9 linear feet and span the dates of 1949-2013 with the bulk of the material dated circa 1960s-2013. The papers reflect her career and activities as a painter, writer, feminist and educator through biographical materials, correspondence, interviews, writings, project files, teaching files, printed material, and photographic materials.
Among the biographical materials are awards, educational records,and audiovisual recordings about Joan Semmel and her work.
Professional correspondence concerns exhibitions, publication permissions, panel discussions, symposia, and visiting artist and summer school appointments. Also included are letters of recommendation for colleagues and students. A scattering of personal letters are from novelist David Markson and José Antonio, both of whom had personal relationships with Semmel. There are also a few letters from friends of a purely social nature and a few letters concerning routine personal affairs.
There are two interviews with Joan Semmel on video recordings, one was conducted for a television broadcast and the other is unidentified.
Writings by Semmel include the manuscript, illustrations, research material, and letters relating to her unpublished book about women's erotic art. Also found are articles, artist's statements, and notes for talks about her work. The writings about Semmel consist of several student papers.
Project files relate to two exhibitions curated by Semmel, Contemporary Women: Consciousness and Content (1977) at The Brooklyn Museum of Art School and Private Worlds (2000). One file is related to a project in which Semmel was involved to document the role and status of women in the arts.
Scattered teaching files concern a course about contemporary women artists developed and taught by Semmel for the women's studies program at Rutgers University, circa 1978. Also documented are summer programs at Skowhegan and Sommerakademie in Austria where Semmel served as an instructor.
Binders (now unbound) of printed materials were compiled by Semmel consisting of exhibition catalogs and announcements for solo and group shows, reviews, posters, and miscellaneous printed matter.
Photographs of people include Joan Semmel, friends and colleagues. Among the individuals pictured are: writer David Markson, painter John Hardy, José Antonio Nieto; and feminist artists: Judy Bernstein, Mary Beth Edelson, Eunice Golden, Nancy Grossman, Harmony Hammond, Miriam Schapiro, Sylvia Sleigh, and May Stevens. There are slides, photographs, color photocopies and digital images of Semmel's paintings. Of particular interest are photographs, photocopies of photographs, and digital images that served as source material for paintings, including portrait commissions.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Joan Semmel in 2014.
Processing Information
This collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared in 2015 by Catherine S. Gaines. The Archives of American Art has implemented minimal processing tactics when possible in order to increase information about and access to more of our collections.
Minimal processing included arrangement to the series and folder levels. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles, but not arranged further. Folders within boxes were not numbered. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders, but not all staples and clips were removed.