For a long time Helen and I have been talking about doing an interview on her art that could be added to her developing art web site. Last month, when Helen received notification that the Brooklyn Museum's Sackler collection of feminist art was interested in her donation of some drawings, an opportunity presented itself that could not be missed. I grabbed my little digital camera and visited Helen in her studio. After a several hours' long conversation about her life and work as a feminist artist for nearly five decades, I knew I had more than enough footage for several videos. But, in the video that follows, I decided to concentrate on the meaning Helen attached to the Pregnancy Series, a body of work Helen completed in the 1960s, a time when few, if any, women artists were working on this subject. And certainly none in the expressive way Helen was doing figurative work.
In the interview, Helen also explained why she is particularly excited about the work being in the Sackler collection. And how important it is to her that these particular works will be seen.
A lot more that could be said about the pioneering significance of Helen's art work. (I have written other essays on this blog about it.) But what is NOT in this portion of the interview is what Helen told me about the earliest reception her work received. She created this work while she was living in Paris and took the drawings to a Paris art dealer. His response? "I remember he just said, scornfully, Ugh; They remind me of Van Gogh." Needless to say, he didn't get the drawings!