Publication Date

Fall 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art and Art History


Dore Bowen


art, feminism, identity, performance, society, women

Subject Areas

Art history


Throughout the emergence of second-wave feminism in the 1970s, social and political activism inspired female artists to create powerful artworks that critiqued institutional discrimination and supported women's reproductive rights and workplace equality. Feminist artists raised the public's awareness of women's issues by making women the subject of their artwork. In California especially, these creators turned to performance art, often taking their creations to the streets.

This thesis focuses on Lynn Hershman Leeson's performance, Roberta Breitmore (1974-1978), and examines how, through the steps of the performance, the piece's fictitious title character became a living resident of San Francisco. It will explore how Roberta Breitmore mirrored her lived society to become both a "real" woman and a case study in defining female identity. In this research, Roberta Breitmore the character finds her place not only in the culture of her time, but in the history of art, feminism, and feminist art.