Madden Library Mary Maughelli Exhibition

An exhibition titled “Mary Maughelli: Abstract Expressionism and Feminist Artwork” opened Nov. 4, 2016 in the Leon S. Peters Ellipse Gallery in the Henry Madden Library at Fresno State with a reception. Maughelli, a professor emerita, taught at Fresno State from 1962 to 1998. She died in October 2015. She was a prominent feminist artist, a contemporary of Judy Chicago and a founding member of Gallery 25.

The exhibition, presented by the Department of Art and Design in partnership with the Madden Library, examined Maughelli’s early work. Maughelli was a student of the first California art movement, abstract expressionism, at the University of California, Berkeley, under the tutelage of historically relevant artists. After graduating, she spent two years in Europe completing back-to-back Fulbright scholarships, competitive grants for international educational exchange students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists.

Upon her return, she began her 36-year teaching career at Fresno State. Maughelli and other teachers and artists helped set the foundation for the arrival of visiting artist Judy Chicago, which resulted in the formation of Fresno State’s feminist art program, the first of its kind in the United States.

The exhibition was aimed at educating millennials about abstract expressionism and the feminist art movement in the context of the cultural and political environments of those times. In addition to traditional elements, the exhibition incorporated elements of augmented reality, which allowed viewers to interact with the content in a deeper, more meaningful way. By using smartphone app Aurasma and scanning certain trigger images throughout the exhibition, viewers were able to access additional content to enhance their experience.

Other multimedia components — the film “Womanhouse,” which covers artwork by several of the first feminist program students in Los Angeles; the Hans Hoffman film “Artist Teacher, Teacher Artist,” which is both an explanation of modern art and the story of an artist and teacher of thousands; and several interviews with Maughelli — were available for viewing on three monitors in the gallery.

“Mary Maughelli is a trailblazer, and we are all indebted to her artistic vision,” said Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. “She transcended her own historical space and forged a new meaning for the female body, one that challenged the typical binary model that made use of an essentialist nature in order to limit the creative process and value of womanhood. She created a legacy that epitomizes the generosity inherent in art — the creative process envisions a new perspective of a better world.”

This free, public exhibition, curated by Nanete Maki-Dearsan and Robert Ogata, continued through Dec. 16, 2016.