MC 1477

Inventory to the Suzanne Benton Files on Positive Power

By Sarah Brown and Fernanda Perrone

July 2018

Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries

Finding aid encoded in EAD, version 2002 by Stephanie Crawford, July 2018
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.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Benton, Suzanne
Title: The Suzanne Benton Files on Positive Power
Dates: 1971 - 2003
Quantity: 1.5 cubic feet (3 letter size manuscript boxes, 1 newspaper box)
Abstract: Suzanne Benton is an artist, performer, sculptor, and feminist. Benton was an early member of the National Organization for Women (NOW) where she led the Women in Art Task Force, a member of both the Women’s Caucus for Art, Connecticut Chapter and the National Association of Women Artists, and creator of Positive Power, a series of forums that garnered a large audience exposing the public to women artists of Connecticut. The collection documents the Positive Power series.
Collection No.: MC 1477
Language: English
Repository: Rutgers University Libraries. Special Collections and University Archives

Biographical Sketch

Suzanne Benton, artist, performer, sculptor, feminist, and women’s advocate was born and raised in New York City. Her passion for the arts dates from a young age when she immersed in activities such as choir, piano, art, and dance. She received a B.A. in fine arts with minors in arts education and comparative literature from Queens College in 1956. Benton emerged as an artist in 1964 when her first solo show was exhibited at Yale University. It was through a series of life events that Benton became a leader of the feminist movement in the arts. Benton was an early member of the National Organization for Women (NOW) where she led the Women in Art Task Force, a member of both the Women’s Caucus for Art, Connecticut Chapter and the National Association of Women Artists, and creator of Positive Power, a series of forums that garnered a large audience exposing the public to women artists of Connecticut.

A resident of Connecticut during her adult years, Benton’s Ridgefield home became her studio where she created works in various media. Her work includes metal, painting, mixed media and performance art. In addition to creating work in over 25 countries including Bosnia, Germany, India, Spain, Kenya, and Tanzania, Benton has been the recipient of many prestigious awards and grants including Fulbright Scholar (India) and Resident Artist at Harvard University. In 2012, Benton continues to create, perform, and exhibit her work, lead various workshops, and travel worldwide with her creations.

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Scope and Content Note

The Suzanne Benton Papers on Positive Power are contained in 3 letter size manuscript boxes and 1 newspaper box, which totals 1.5 cubic feet. The collection consists of materials from the years 1971 to 2003. Most of the files are devoted to Positive Power, a series of forums that was created by Benton and led by her as artistic director. Positive Power consisted of four forums (2000 to 2001), and 12 artists sharing their work and promoting Connecticut women in the arts. These events included performances, videos, and exhibits of the artists’ work. A moderator also led a discussion panel with the 4 of the artists during the forums. The 11 artists who participated with Benton were Imna Arroyo, Deborah Boldt, Ann Chernow, Colleen Coleman, Camille Eskell, Janet Luongo, Cary McDougall, Kathryn Myers, Yolanda Petrocelli, Eleanor White, and Jean Woodham. The forums were held at Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Yale Art Gallery, Stamford Museum and Nature Center, and the Discovery Museum. Additionally, feminist art historian Arlene Raven gave a special lecture at the Yale Art Gallery forum.

The files in the collection include e - mail correspondence among the artists, volunteers at the events, and staff at the venues. In addition, much of the material relates to the Women’s Caucus of Art, Connecticut Chapter (WCA-CT), the not - for - profit association that supported and sponsored these forums. This collection also contains files from Benton’s career outside Positive Power. These are the files devoted to Benton’s WCA-CT, NOW, and Veteran Feminists of America (VFA) membership and activity over the years. Benton was a co - founder of the VFA organization, which was formed in the early1990s. In addition to her involvement in women artist organizations, Benton also collected journals, newspapers, and clipped articles relating to women in the arts.

This collection includes detailed documentation of Positive Power, allowing researchers to understand Positive Power’s creation and progression. In addition, there are a substantial amount of material focusing on feminists in art and women’s art organizations. This collection lacks materials that span Benton’s entire art career and is restricted mostly to 1999 - 2002, the time period of the Positive Power forums.

There are a total of 4 series in this collection. The series are arranged alphabetically. The first series, POSITIVE POWER FILES contain all materials from the forums. It includes Benton’s creation and research for Positive Power such as resumes, correspondence, and exhibit announcements of artists, and her research materials. The POSITIVE POWER FILES also contain funding and outreach related material such as documentation of Benton’s grant writing, fundraising lists and letters, and corporate sponsorship. Additionally, this series contains administrative records created by Benton which include timelines, meeting agendas and minutes, and budgets and bookkeeping. There is also substantial documentation of the individual forums consisting of correspondence between Benton and staff at venues, press releases, postcards and flyers. Furthermore, the POSITIVE POWER FILES contain records of the post - event discussion between Benton and WCA-CT how to best document the series as a website or a catalog. These records include a transcription of the meeting and the launch of the Positive Power website. This is the largest of series and is contained in 2 letter size manuscript boxes.

The WCA-CT FILES contain WCA, Connecticut Chapter documents such as newsletters, exhibition catalogues, membership forms and correspondences between Benton and WCA-CT. The OTHER WOMEN’S ORGANIZATIONS series covers Benton’s activities with women organizations, VFA and NOW. In 2003, Benton was honored and served as a co - chair for VFA’s event Salute to Feminists in the Art. These files document her involvement in creating the event as well as being an honoree. OTHER WOMEN’S ORGANIZATIONS also contains a few items from when Benton led N.O.W.’s Women in the Arts Task Force. PERSONAL FILES is a series that contains materials on Benton’s life and career including a personal calendar, a book containing her sculpture work in ArtPark, a state park in Lewiston, N.Y. heavily influenced by the Land Art movement, for which Benton created a sculpture piece, and collected feminist - related newspapers, journals, and articles.

The Suzanne Benton Files on Positive Power documents Benton’s tireless devotion to representing female artists in Connecticut through the creation and direction of Positive Power.

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Name and Subject Tracings

Researchers can facilitate access to related materials in other collections by searching the Rutgers University Libraries' online public catalog and other union catalogs under the following index terms used for organizations and subjects represented in these records.

Subject Headings

Performance Artists
Women Artists
Women Sculptors

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

The Suzanne Benton Files on Positive Power. MC 1477. Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries.

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Detailed Description of the Records/Container List

This section provides descriptions of the materials found within each series. Each series description is followed by a container list, which gives the titles of the "containers" (for example, folders, volumes, or cassettes) and their locations in the numbered boxes that comprise the collection. The availability of any digital items from a container is indicated with a hyperlink.

POSITIVE POWER FILES, 1992-2003, and undated
Arrangement: Arranged alphabetically. Oversize listed at the end of the series.
Box Folder
1 1 Aldrich Venue - press releases, announcements, articles, program timeline, exhibit list, 2000
2 American Association of University Women (AAUW) - directory, articles, correspondence, newsletters, brochures, 1999-2000
3 Arlene Raven - correspondence, articles, transcription of Yale talk, 1992, 1999-2000
4 Artist files - resumes, artist statements, correspondence, exhibition announcements, 1999-2001
5 Artist files - resumes, brochures, exhibition announcements, 1999-2003
6 Bookkeeping - ledgers, receipts, correspondence with treasurer, 2000-2001
7 Corporate sponsorship - letters, contacts, correspondence, 1999-2000
8 Correspondence - with artists, advisory board, contacts, correspondence, 2000-2001
9 Discovery Venue - press releases, postcards, articles, exhibit lists, correspondence, 2000-2001
10 Fundraising - letters, postcards, 2000-2001
11 Future P.P. Venues - articles, notes, newsletters 2000 and undated
12 Janet Luongo correspondence, 2000
13 Mailing lists - Suzanne’s contacts, directories, label proofs, 1993, 2000 and undated
Box Folder
2 1 Mailing permit - forms, correspondence, 2000-2001
2 March 15 meeting - correspondence, notes, transcription of meeting, 2001
3 Meetings - minutes of meetings, agendas, 2000
4 Notes and mind maps, undated
5 Positive Power miscellaneous - articles, grant research, contacts, correspondence exhibit announcements, notes, 2000-2001
6 Press releases - announcements, photographs, articles, 2000-2001
7 Promotional material - posters, postcards, quotes for exhibition catalog, mailers, 1999-2001
8 Special Project Arts Grant - drafts, notes, applications, letters of recommendation, 1999-2000
9 Stamford Venue - program timelines and notes, correspondence, 2000-2001
10 Timelines, 2000
11 Webpage - contract, correspondence, proofs, 2001-2002
12 Yale Venue - press releases, articles, announcements, correspondence, sign - in sheets, Suzanne’s performance notes, 2000
Box Folder
4 Aldrich Museum Positive Power Event videotape, 2000
Deborah Bolt videotape, undated
Positive Power Poster, 2000
2 copies.
Suzanne Benton and Janet Luongo CT public TV interview videotape, 2000
WCA-CT FILES, 1992-2002, and undated
Arrangement: Arranged alphabetically. Oversize listed at the end of the series.
Box Folder
3 1 Bylaws - WCA-CT bylaws and National Committee of United States of America - International Association of Visual Artists (NCUSA) Constitution, 2000 and undated
2 General information - certificate, application, minutes, correspondence, brochures, 1992, 1995, 1997-2002
3 Newsletters and exhibition catalogs, 1999-2001
Box Folder
4 ArtLines, Women’s Caucus for Art, April 2000
“Chicago 2001 National Conference… ArtLines, Special Pullout, Women’s Caucus for Art, 2001
OTHER WOMEN’S ORGANIZATIONS, 1974-1975, 1999, 2003, and undated
Arrangement: Arranged alphabetically. Oversize listed at the end of the series.
Box Folder
3 4 National Organization for Women (NOW) - newsletters, proposals, statements, 1974-1975 and undated
5 - 6 VFA - correspondence, 2003
7 Veteran Feminists of America (VFA) - newsletters, registration forms, bulletins, exhibit lists, event brochure, 1999, 2003 and undated
8 Veteran Feminists of America (VFA) - slides of honored artists, 2003
PERSONAL FILES, 1971-2006 and undated
Arrangement: Arranged alphabetically. Oversize listed at the end of the series.
Box Folder
3 9 Articles, 1971, 1975 and undated
10 Journals - Iris, Second Shift, Women’s Art Magazine, 1971, 1975 and undated
Box Folder
4 ArtPark: The Program in Visual Arts, 1976
Art Workers News, July/August 1974
“Sun Shines Brightly of Myriad ArtPark Activities”, Buffalo Courier Express, 1975
Women and Art, Summer/Fall 1972