Artist, activist, educator and advocate Suzanne Lacy (b. 1945) tackles social issues, particularly those affecting women, through public and large scale art projects. She is notable for her work in raising awareness of women’s issues and blending performance art and community outreach.
In 1969 Lacy enrolled as a student in a new feminist art program begun by the pioneering Judy Chicago at California State University, Fresno. She absorbed herself in the study of female artists and discussed themes of the underrepresented, from racism to lesbianism to rape. In 1970, Lacy commenced “The Violence Series” (1970-1979), a grouping of artworks over the course of a decade all dedicated to making visible the issue of violence against women. For “Three Weeks in May” (1977), Lacy and her collaborators mounted over 30 events, many publicized by television and print outlets, to raise awareness and dialogue about rape. The events culminated in a “Rape Map,” which charted reported rapes over the course of the project. Another notable work is “Crystal Quilts” (1987), an elaborate, hour-long staged performance involving more than 400 female volunteers and a pre-recorded soundtrack. The event was attended by over 3,000 people and reached an even larger audience through its live broadcast on public television.
In 1991, Lacy started TEAM (Teens + Educators + Artists + Media Makers), another decade-long project on increasing awareness, resources and opportunities for the urban minority youth of Oakland, Ca. In 1999, for the culminating event of these efforts, TEAM assembled over 100 red, white and black cars that were then arranged on a rooftop according to color. Lit by car headlights, over 1,000 people roamed the rooftop enjoying dance performances and video installations, as young people and local authorities assembled in breakout groups for town hall-style meetings to discuss the breakdown of trust between the police and the community they were assigned to protect.
With her extensive background orchestrating such events, Lacy currently chairs the Graduate Public Practice department at Otis College of Art and Design.