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Identifier: MC 1469

Rutgers University Collection of Women Artists' Visual Diaries


  • 1979-2008

Scope and Content Note

The collection is composed of one series, SKETCHBOOKS, 1979-2008, which contains 23 items of varying sizes. Almost every sketchbook is also accompanied by an exhibition label. The sketchbooks contain consciousness-raising notes, drawings/paintings/experiments, lists, and collected materials. Media types used include but are not limited to: glitter, water color, clippings, collage, ink, pencil, markers, paint, photographs, and nontraditional materials.

The items in the collection were donated to Rutgers by their creators after the Special Collections and University Archives' exhibition Bridging Generations: Women Artists and Organizations in 2009.

Three sketchbooks, by Mari-Claire Charba, Lynn Peters, and Michaelann Tostanoski are examples of alternative sketchbooks. Charba's sketchbook is a facsimile, but is housed in a painted wooden box tied with a ribbon. Peters' sketchbook is a handmade accordian-style sketchbook. Tostanoski's sketchbook is a hanging tier of two-sided sketches.


3 Cubic Feet (2 record center cartons, 2 newspaper boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is composed of 23 sketchbooks from feminist artist and educator, Nancy Azara's class "Consciousness-Raising, Visual Diaries, Art-Making Workshop." The students would draw and respond in their sketchbooks to women who were sharing their experiences as women and as women artists. Through this exercise, students strove to find an authentic artistic style.

Historical Sketch

Nancy Azara, a feminist artist and educator, taught the class "Consciousness-Raising, Visual Diaries, Art-Making Workshop" at the New York Feminist Art Institute between 1979 and 1990. She continued to teach the class at her personal studio through the 2000s. Azara had her students speak one by one in a consciousness-raising session while the other students drew or wrote in their sketchbooks. Azara encouraged the students to think of the sketchbooks as visual diaries, and to strive to find some kind of authentic mark-making that they could see in their other work. The consciousness-raising sessions were meant to be group talks about women's issues, as well as women in art issues. The visual diaries in our collection vary in size and content, but all attempt to create an authentic mark-making.

Related Collections

More visual diaries from classes taught by Nancy Azara can be found in the New York Feminist Art Institute Records MC 892 at Rutgers, Special Collections and University Archives.

Inventory to the Rutgers University Collection of Women Artists' Visual Diaries MC 1469
Edited Full Draft
Stephanie Crawford and Fernanda Perrone
July 2018
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.
Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.